Dock of the Bay

Vol. 8, No. 48
Nov. 30-Dec. 6, 2000
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Time to Watch for Deer

Over the hills and through the woods to grandmother's house we ...


So goes the gut-wrenching refrain of autos pummeling deer which, according to the American Automobile Association, over 500,000 motorists across the nation do each year. Especially now, in November and December, when deer are in the midst of fall's mating season as well as taking advantage of their last chance to forage for food and shelter before winter sets in. When such motivated deer cross paths with the steady rush of holiday traffic, body shops get busy.

"Probably a third of everything we do is a deer hit right now," says BJ Sisk of Sisk Auto Body in Owings. Most hits, she reports, are relatively minor - for the car, at least - messing up a fender, bumper, headlight and hood. Small fixes, says Sisk, run as little as $500; AAA cites $2,000 as the repair cost for the average deer accident. In extreme cases, totals can climb pretty steep. "One time a repair cost $12,000," says Sisk. "The deer landed on the hood and rolled up on the roof. We had to replace the hood, the sunroof, roof, everything."

There is no way of knowing for sure exactly how many collisions happen in Maryland. Department of Natural Resources' spokesman John Surrick calls any totals unreliable. Maryland's DNR draws its stats from county counts, which vary wildly: Last year, Montgomery County reported 1,900 accidents while neighboring Prince George's County counted only 35.

Don't expect a potentially harsh winter to keep deer from their rounds, either. "Deer have been around for hundreds of thousands of years, so don't expect a little cold weather to stop them," advises Surrick. Some tips to keep the road and conscience clear of victim deer:

  • Never seen a deer at the deer-crossing sign? The State Highway Administration has. Pay heed: Signs mark known problem areas.

  • If you see a deer in the road, honk your horn. Flashing your lights might make the deer fixate on your car and continue to stand fast.

  • Where one deer crosses, another will likely follow; deer often travel in packs.

  • Hood-mounted deer whistles are uncertain deterrents.

  • Remember spots where you've seen deer cross before. Deer use the same paths over and over again

  • A deer standing to the side of the road could jump at any moment.

  • Slow down and brake to avoid a deer. That's better than swerving, even if you still hit the deer. "It usually does way more damage if you swerve," says Sisk. According to AAA, injuries to people increase in swerving accidents.

  • Be most alert in the early morning and late afternoon hours, the most active times for deer.
    If you've felled a deer despite best efforts to the contrary, take solace in the fact that some counties, such as Anne Arundel, salvage struck deer and use the meat to feed needy people. And that auto body repair shops like Sisk have had plenty of experience fixing problems like yours.

-Mark Burns

In Season: Downy Woodpecker
by Gary Pendleton

The leaves have fallen and the landscape has changed. Summer's green monochrome is a hard-to-conjure memory. October's multi-colored hues have been replaced by the dry browns and tans that dominate the winter palette. White-throated sparrows, juncos, winter wrens and kinglets have taken up residence in woodlands and thickets. It's a good time to get out to see the changes.

So on a recent November Sunday, I was motivated to get out for a long walk in the woods at Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary. I was amply rewarded: It was a good day for woodpeckers. Seven species of woodpeckers winter in Maryland, and I found six of them within 15 minutes: the northern flicker; yellow-bellied sapsucker; downy, hairy, pileated and red-bellied woodpeckers. The uncommon true red-headed woodpecker was the only one missing. The others seemed to be part of a mixed flock of woodland birds. The sudden cold seemed to stimulate their appetite and activity. In the overcast light, their brighter colors - white, red and yellow - seemed to glow.

Later, with dusk encroaching, I paused in the woods. Suddenly a woodcock shot from the ground a mere three to four feet from where I stood. I heard the sudden sound of wings and watched the round silhouette disappear. If I had not stopped, surely the well-camouflaged bird would have stayed on the ground. I stared at the leaves and wondered how many others I had walked past; then, as if to answer, another bird took off. I rebuked myself for all that I had missed that day, but thought again. I had noticed a lot: Have I mentioned the eagle, red-tailed hawk and the flock of blue birds? It was time to hurry to get back before dark.

Bringing in the Boats

It's that time of year in Chesapeake Country when Santa's sleighs come out and boats go in.

"At our office in Port Annapolis Marina, two weeks ago you could still see open spaces," reports Beth Kahr, executive director of the Maryland Maritime Trades Association. "Now it's all fiberglass."

Not every boat comes out of the water. Some boaters so love the Bay that - though they intend to pull their boat - they hold out for balmy boating days in December. They're not just chasing rainbows. In recent memory, both 1999 and '98 offered such days.

To reach spring in December, however, they have to get past the chill winds in November. Many don't.

"It's always the same," says Tom Wilhelm of Herrington Harbour North, in Tracys Landing. "There's a lull. Then the first cold snap pushes over those who've been sitting on the fence."

Last week's cold snap pushed over so many that Herrington is scheduling now for the first week in January. Before they're finished hauling boats from as small as 20 feet to as big as 70, the yard at Herrington will be stuffed full of some 1,300 boats.

The rush is underway, too, at Turkey Point Marina on Ramsey Lake on the north side of the Mayo Peninsula.

"We're inundated," says Sandy Zimmerman. "We're going nuts. They all waited till the last minute, like they always do. Now that this snow's predicted, the phone's ringing off the hook. They don't seem to realize we can only haul one boat at one time."

With 125 slips and land room for some 80 boats, Turkey Point Marina is on the small side as marinas go. With one hydraulic trailer rather than the team of trailers and Travel Lifts prowling big places like Herrington, hauling goes slowly and, occasionally, eventfully.

"Getting a boat out of the water is not a big deal," explains Zimmerman, "unless there's no water and you can't get the boat up the ramp. Or if it weighs more than 16,000 pounds, and you have to chain two trucks behind the trailer to keep from sliding back into water."

No water is one of the perils of winter on Ramsey Lake, where, Zimmerman says "I've seem it where you could walk across on the bottom." Still, some boaters will, she says, "hope for the best, that the tide won't go out and leave them on the bottom."

Boaters who have their boat hauled, Wilhelm adds, "choose to have peace of mind of not worrying in freezing temperatures and severe weather while they're an hour or two away." Wintertime's also when many do routine maintenance and upgrades. Hauling at Herrington includes powerwashing and setting the boat on blocks in the storage yard. Then engines, fresh water system and heads are winterized. At the same time, many owners ask for a service inspection.

Increasingly, winterizing includes shrink wrapping. That, explains Rod Jabin of Bert Jabin's Yacht Yard in Eastport, is because "shrink wrap works. It stays in place the entire winter, while 90 percent of blue polytarps fail in the first couple of months. When we get those northwestern cold fronts and it blows like stink, they get twisted and act like a big sail."

A well-fitted cover, whether of shrink wrap or canvas, keeps the sun and weather off, preventing ultraviolet deterioration.

But winter's other woes are less likely to be felt by the 250 or so boaters, nearly 90 percent of them sailors, who slip at Jabin's.

"We're very protected with no wind, current flow or wave action," says Jabin, "so ice has never caused damage to boats in the water here, even though we have had damage to piers."

In that safe haven, figures are reversed from other marinas, and as many as 80 percent of boats overwinter in the water.

Even so, says Jabin, their yard is "pretty full. It's a substantially different landscape than summer."


For $200, This Charter Could Be Yours

Imagine, if you will, a boat. A charter boat, powered by two 600-horsepower Caterpillar turbo motors with a 25-knot cruising speed. A really big charter boat with a full galley (microwave, refrigerator and sink) plus a full bath, below-deck bunks, global positioning system, 48-mile radar, shore power, auxiliary generator, am/fm stereo and other nice touches stuffed into a hull 46 feet long with a 15-foot, six-inch beam and a three-foot, five-inch draft. Enough boat that the Coast Guard certifies it for 46 passengers.

It's available, to keep, for $200.

"I tell you, it's really awesome," proclaims Betty Duty, of the Maryland Watermen's Association. She's already cruised the Bay aboard the brand new 2001 craft designed by shipbuilder David Mason. "It's really grand. Beautiful."

The grand charter, product of Chesapeake Boats, is up for raffle at $200 per ticket to benefit the Maryland Watermen's Association in their First Annual Charter Fishing Boat Drawing. Only 2,000 tickets will be sold; some 500 are already gone. "We're getting tons of calls," says Kelly Clemens, who handles the flood of interest for the Association's raffle. "Yesterday I probably sent out about 100 brochures."

So far nobody's complained to the Maryland Watermen's Association about the price of a one-in-2,000 chance, which is tax-deductible should you lose. Besides, the boat has a retail worth of $300,000. The Watermen's Association comes out winning with a hefty fund-raiser to benefit, says Duty, "restoration projects to make sure our watermen keep working."

You can get your ticket until noon February 4, 2001, the day a winner is chosen at the association's trade expo in Ocean City. If you win, you'll have to get your boat home from Crisfield and pay sales tax. Find out more: 800/421-9176 ·

-Mark Burns

On Target: Dart League Scores Frolic, Friendship

photos by Jennifer A. Dawicki
Jonna Heacock, from North Beach, has been stepping to the line four and one half years.

Bull's-eye. The Southern Maryland Traveling Dart League hits the bull's-eye each time they gather around the dart board. Aiming for fun, the clan of throwers have found frolic and friendship in the circles of the dart board.

"The best thing about the dart league is when I run into team members in the summer and they cannot wait until September to shoot darts again," says Joe Sperrazza, president of the league. Growing from six teams in 1996 to 25 teams currently, the league spans three counties. Prince Georges, Anne Arundel and Calvert counties are all pegged throughout the 34-week season split into two 17-week sessions.

Darts, as its name suggests, is more than one game. A night's play for the league combines 301, Cricket and Stacked Cricket. All have the same object: hitting the prime areas of the target, which radiate out in value from the bull's-eye. But some games, like Cricket, give victory to the high scorer, while others, like 301, favor the low. Throwers, standing eight feet distant, must not only hit their target but choose their ring. They may not hit one another or by-standers.

Ten restaurants and bars are in range of the throwers, who gather from 7 to 10pm each Monday of the fall and spring season. The league stretches its tips as far north as Top of the Hill, in Upper Marlboro; south to Stetson's in Owings; east to Brick House in Shady Side; and west to Wyvill's in Upper Marlboro. The cozy corners of South County oblige the guys and gals of the league with an area to throw and one house drink for each player.

"This league is based on having fun. The best thing about it is meeting people," laughs Jimmy Dadisman, part of the league since its start and member of a team that has stayed together since the beginning. "The structure of the league is representative of me," continues Sperrazza. "Fun first, and ensuring that everyone gets something in return."

For $6 per person per match, that return includes prizes down to the last-place team, which receives about $160 in prize money to split among the six to eight players. Not only teams win prizes; so do individual high averages and other specialties.

Along with frolic and sport, true democracy gives muscle to the league. Captains of each team gather once a month to introduce new challenges for the throwers and execute the standing rules. "This is why it grew so fast. I gave them all the power to play the way they want," says Sperrazza. In consequence, more people throw, and handicaps put all throwers at the same level.

All are welcome to join the throwers of South County, a group right on target, aiming at a good time and competing in a circle of friends.

-Jennifer A Dawicki

Thanks Given

"Everything went wonderful," said Jennifer Jordan of Lighthouse Inn Restaurant's 10th Annual Thanksgiving Meal in Solomon's. Thanks to all who planted the seeds of the season, Chesapeake Country reaped full bellies at Thanksgiving.

"This was the best Thanksgiving so far," says Jordan, who, flanked with 60 volunteers, was able to nourish and comfort almost 600 people, including those to whom carry-out orders were taken. Jordan, elbow deep in soapy suds most of the day, was still able to reflect with gratitude and joy. "Everyone who came to help this year was happy to be here. It is the people who make it so worthwhile, including the media who helped spread the word to those in need."

Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake filled Asbury United Methodist Church in Annapolis with about 300 people, leaving just enough room for the lasagna and salad donated by Three Brothers Pizza. This was the 11th year Cindy Piazza and Flora Taylor have teamed up to win the race against holiday hunger. "The whole day of activities gives me such a good feeling. I am so glad to be doing this," said Taylor. Thirty volunteers helped get the food on the table and fill many hearts with joy.

At We Care & Friends, Thanksgiving dinner 2000 was smaller than in past years. "We served the Thanksgiving works," said Leslie Ireland, who serves on the board of the group renowned for opening the doors to almost 3,500 people each Thanksgiving for the past 10 years. This year's table was set for only 650 to 700 people.

"The decrease in numbers was due to the change of location," explained We Care vice president Mike Flanagan. This year's dinner was served at the Stanton Center in Annapolis, where We Care now has its headquarters, instead of the familiar American Legion Post 141, where it had been for a decade.

Almost 200 volunteers helped orchestrate the holiday meal donated by numerous local establishments. "We really want to thank the local businesses for their continued support, especially Adam's the Place for Ribs and Chart House," said Flanagan.

Dessert sweetened guard duty over the holiday at the Naval Academy, where 40 fresh-baked pies were delivered to posts and duty sites. Those on duty during the Christmas holiday are already looking forward to the cookies, already in the cutters, promised by the same Navy-Marine community and citizen pastry chefs who sweetened Thanksgiving.

-Jennifer A. Dawicki

Way Downstream ...

On the Eastern Shore, some watermen aren't thrilled about a $4 million oyster restoration project starting next month in which new oyster reefs would be designated as off-limits sanctuaries. Calvert County oysterman Kenny Keen told The Washington Post "If they're going to do nothing but dump oysters on sanctuaries, we're going to get them. They don't have enough marine police to enforce this"...

In New Hampshire, the election is finally over, and the winner is - the moose. To adorn the Granite State's new license plates, voters picked a bull moose standing alongside a lake with mountains in the background ...

In West Virginia, a debate has erupted over plans to build a windmill farm at Blackwater Falls State Park. But conservationists are upset about erecting 79 windmills, each 311 feet tall and topped with flashing red lights. It would provide electricity for 20,000 homes, but a woman named Judy Rodd complained to the state's utility commission about "viewshed pollution" and a "large, cleared industrial site with blinking lights going day and night" ...

In California, they're so worried about an electricity shortage that the California Independent System Operator declared a "Stage Two Electrical Emergency" last week and asked people to curtail Christmas lighting this season ...

Our Creature Feature comes from Seattle, where efforts to save salmon from extinction have led to creation of a sperm bank for fish. We know this from a story in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on Sunday that had no byline because the reporters there are on strike for higher pay.

Because of the strike, an editor probably wrote this story, so it might have errors. But it said that the number of chinook and steelhead sperm samples has grown from seven to 1,826, and that they're kept at Washington State University and the University of Idaho at temperatures 20 times colder than your freezer. Let's hope the papers in Seattle don't keep their reporters in the cold, too.

Copyright 2000
Bay Weekly