Volume 1 Issue 4 1993

Previously inaccessible archives from 1993-1997 now coming on-line, with more each week! Note that this is working copy (uncorrected text, no photos, including covers).

Chesapeake Beaches
Letters to the Editor
Racing Begins with the Right Boat Commentary
A Rag & Some Common Sense can Keep Your Boat Running Right
Bay Life
Weird Wind Reversals: Bay Sailor’s Plague Diversion & Excursion
Bytes on Board Who's Here
Keep Your Boat Ship Shape Laughing Gourment
Dock of the Bay News of the Weird
Editorial Not Just for Kids

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Chesapeake Beaches
by Todd W. Tyson

The toasty, sunny summer Sunday challenged us to leave our home in Riverdale, Maryland to “find and explore.” This day my four brothers, assorted friends, and I would pile into the back of Dad’s green and white ‘72 Chevrolet pick-up truck, searching for adventures someplace—anyplace—along the Chesapeake Bay.

Now, nearly two decades later, I remember my mother calling warnings to us to be careful, to behave, to keep an eye on Johnny— the youngest, to stay seated in the back of the pick-up, to be back for dinner.

I was 12 or 13 then, the oldest of five boys; after me came Jimmy, then Tommy, then Bobby, then Johnny—all blond, all blue-eyed. We all have the middle name William, and I was called Billy after that name.

Before this day’s trip, our explorations had led us down country roads in eastern Maryland, to many inlets of the Chesapeake Bay, and to tidal areas of the Potomac and Patuxent Rivers. We traveled down paved and dirt roads to falling, abandoned houses and barns; to a forgotten trash dump with old, oddly shaped bottles of many colors; to fishing spots on piers and bridges, and below them; to water and woods of different shapes and sizes. Again this day we were Bay-bound.

This day I felt we’d be lucky.

We drove east on Central Avenue. We knew the road well. Many times we came this way to get to our favorite fishing, crabbing, and swimming spot—Carr’s Wharf. We knew when we were getting closer because we'd count the churches; there were three then.

It’s funny the things you remember. I’d spent a lifetime at Carr’s Wharf. A progression of years followed me there. I first came as a small boy, crabbing, fishing, swimming, and generally running amok.

Later, I came as a young man to read, to think, to be alone, and to enjoy the feeling—the sense of the place. I delighted in the rippling water, the brackish smell, the cacophony of the sea gulls, the chug of the working boats and the zoom of the pleasure boats—even the loudspeaker from Camp Letts across the inlet.

But this time, 20 years ago, instead of turning right to get to Carr’s Wharf, we turned left onto a new and promising road that twisted and curved. The dirt road appeared on the right between the woods that stretched on both sides. There were no “Keep Out” nor “No Trespassing” signs, so we turned onto the road.

Dad drove slowly on the deeply rutted road while we grabbed overhanging branches and looked for rabbits, squirrels, frogs, toads, and box turtles. Ignoring Mom’s cautions, Frank and I stood behind the cab like tank commandos on a mission; Dad didn’t care—if someone else could have driven, he would’ve joined us. Standing back in that truck, we had not a care in the world.

After what seemed like a mile, the road ended. In front was a stump blocking our way, but a path continued on the other side. Dad parked the truck, and we scrambled off, eager to continue the adventure.

After about 75 feet on the path, those of us without shoes were hopping and yelping. The ground was covered with crackling, stiff and pointed, dead holly leaves. Gingerly, we made our way, searching under dead logs and in dark, dusty holes for creatures to observe and torment. The path twisted. The path rose and fell, rose and fell. Then it ended.

The waves gently lapped at the sandy stretch of beach 25 feet below. Here, the path suddenly veered to the left, dropping steeply. We ran and we stumbled. All of us wanted to be first to feel the cool, wet sand underfoot. Dad, too!

The path had ended in a marshy area. Our sudden and loud appearance upset some red-winged blackbirds that now flitted nervously from cattail to cattail. Their burst of black, red, and yellow relieved the cool grey, brown, and muted green of the woods. The narrow stretch of beach began to the right of this area and followed the cliff until it ended in a tangle of fallen trees and twisted, smooth driftwood. At its widest point the beach was 20 feet; it was 10 times that long.

Jimmy and Roger jumped in the water first. The rest of us scrambled to join Jimmy and Roger in the water. It was pleasantly cool, not too cold nor warm. We threw rich dark muddy clops of the Bay’s bottom at each other, only to dive and surface cleansed. Often, we’d find oyster shells and parts of other shells that pricked the bottoms of our feet as we waded. Boats offshore gently rocked. Although we could clearly see them, we pretended that they could not see us. In fact, we imagined that only by boat could someone reach this beach—our “private” beach.

I never had more fun than when I was on one of our trips like our deserted beach. There, my curiosity and my energy were satisfied.

While Dad slept on the beach, we roved like crabs and shrieked like gulls. We collected the dried shells of blueshell and horseshoe crabs. We found flat round rocks and shells to skim on the water. Tommy and Bobby kept trying to climb up the cliffside, but the sandy soil crumbled, tumbling them back to the bottom. But mostly we swam, undaunted by a few jellyfish stings. We swam and swam and swam.

Picturing Dad there on the beach sleeping, thoughts of another time at the Bay come to mind. At a backwater, off Route 50, near Annapolis, we stopped to fish. Dad, exhausted from the sun, snoozed in his truck, and snored (he always snored).

On this day, as Dad slept, Frank and I weren’t having much luck fishing from the shore. But a solution was nearby. We espied a small wooden boat in the bulrush; it was chained to a stake. We couldn’t pull the stake up, but we could and did break the chain. Soon, our problem solved, we were fishing from the middle of the water, yelling words of bravado to my shore-bound brothers. However, we soon discovered that the seaworthiness of our vessel was in doubt. As the boat sank, much to our chagrin, and my brothers’ delight, we had to swim for shore. Fortunately, somehow my brothers never told Dad.

Dad had been sleeping for a while now on our beach when we woke him because it was getting late and we were getting hungry. We gathered ourselves together and began climbing the path up to the woods toward home and the dinner we knew would be there.

But as we left the beach, our day’s excitement wasn’t over yet. At the top of the cliff and the beginning of the path, Tommy nearly stepped on a snake. We poked and prodded it into a cardboard box for the trip home. At home, I looked in my reptile identification book; it was an American red-bellied snake.

We returned to that beach six or seven times that summer, just as I return in my mind now to it—each time something new remembered, something new learned.

Eleven years after that summer, in my own car, I attempted to find that dirt road to that same beach. It took a while; I even passed the road a couple times before I recognized it. Barring my entry, a large new metal gate with a padlock was in place at the beginning of the road. Much of the woods on either side of the road was gone. A house sat back on the right and one was being built on the left side. I didn't attempt to enter. This time there were signs—“No Hunting, No Trespassing, Keep Out.” I remember I wasn’t saddened. though, because I knew somewhere children were still finding their own private “beaches.”

And, somewhere, adults were rediscovering and remaking their “beaches.”

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Racing Begins with the Right Boat
by Dale Bennett

A sailboat race is a chess game, pitting your tactics against your opponent’s. It hones your sailing skills to a sharpness you may have dreamed of—but never thought you’d reach. Ultimately you challenge yourself to go beyond your boundaries. You’re so in tune with nature that you can feel her every breath, understand her capriciousness. It’s a passion, a seduction.

And it all begins with the right boat.

The greatest sailors—Dennis Conner, Buddy Melges, Paul Cayard—are “one-design” racers. Their boats are one of a fleet of sailboats that are all exactly alike, within required tolerances. One-design sailing tests sailor against sailor, so that the equipment doesn’t decide the outcome of the race.

One-design keeps costs within reach of the average sailor, who can’t afford to pay development costs for a new boat. It keeps older boats from becoming outdated; with proper preparation, they can be made competitive. All in all, one-design racing brings together many people for great competition, from all levels—from beginner to pro.

Which boat will be yours?

Unless you’re looking for a relic, I suggest you stay away from wooden boats. I like the looks of a wooden boat as much as the next sailor, and I know I’m risking a ton of hate mail and burning stuff on my lawn, but they are just not competitive. Look at the competition. Fiberglass is the only game in town, and it takes a lot less maintenance, to boot. Likewise, wooden masts no longer have a place on the race course. Almost all classes use a bendy aluminum mast.

Stick with one of the old, established designs such as a Snipe, Comet, Sunfish, Laser, Lightning or Albacore. These generally offer many large fleets and a wide range of competition.

New or used? If you order a new boat, the dealer will work with you to get you on the course. On the other hand, a used boat is a cheaper way to get your feet wet. What’s more, you prepare yourself as you prepare your boat. Shop at dealers in used boats, boat auctions, boat club bulletin boards, and newspaper want ads.

Now comes the part I like—buying a boat that’s new to me. When you’ve found one that sounds good and is priced right, let’s look at it. I mean look at it.

Stand back and look at the lines of the boat. They should all be continuous, gently sweeping curves with no bumps or protrusions. Don’t take symmetry for granted: a lot of boats have been banged up while racing or docking and then repaired by less than proficient boat doctors.

So stand off to each side of the boat and study the long, gentle sweep of the sheer line, the chine and keel lines. Then stand forword and sight down along them. Next follow along the flats or curves of the sides and bottom. Make sure that all the lines are fair with no major bumps or hollows. Do the same from astern.

Don’t mind if you see patches of body filler. Racers often use it to fair their boats. You may see some small hollows that you can fill in. You need not refuse a boat because it needs some minor fairing, but you can offer less.

Discontinuities in the lines of a boat, on the other hand, may indicate more serious damage. Pay particular attention to the parts of the hull that make contact with the trailer. If the boat has sat on the trailer for a long time, this area may show deformation.

Look for cracks in the gelcoat. While a hairline crack may not be serious, many in one place may indicate more damage than you’ll want to bargain for. If the hull deforms to a moderate push, excuse yourself and slip out the back, Jack.

Don’t worry about the deck. Racing boats are lightly built, so there may be some give in the deck area.

Check the standing rigging to see that it is in decent shape, with no “fishhooks” or broken strands. Check the running rigging. All blocks and lines must move smoothly. As a minimum, you should have a mainsheet, outhaul, cunningham, and vang on the main, and jibsheet, adjustable leads, and cunningham on the jib.

Check the condition of the sails. Sails for a racing boat are generally stiff and smooth. If they are soft and rough, you will probably need new ones. Let your price reflect the lack.

Look for gouges or delamination in the rudder and centerboard. Finally, check the suction bailer and gasket. It can be mighty embarrassing to get your beauty out on the water and have it start sinking in front of the crowd because of a bad bailer gasket. I know.

One thing more—the measurement certificate. Make sure the papers are in order, for they can be a pain to replace.

Only when you’ve found the boat you can’t live without should you buy.

When you’ve taken your boat home, you make it your own. You want the bottom to be as smooth as possible, for every dent or nick causes turbulence that will slow your boat down. So it’s time to do some fairing.

Begin by taking it off the trailer and flipping it on its back, first laying down support to hold it off the ground so the spray rails don’t break.

Run your fingertips over the bottom: you’ll be able to detect discontinuities on the order of hundredths of an inch.

Next, get your sandpaper and start sanding. Start with about 100 grit; progress to 150 grit and continue all the way to 400 grit.

Finished the bottom? Start all over on the topsides, since a small sailboat spends much of its sailing life heeled. Finally, fair the centerboard and rudder, rounding leading edges and sharpening trailing edges.

After sanding comes sails. Buy the best ones you can afford. Good used sails are better than mediocre new ones. Some fleet leaders buy a new set of sails every year. Check with sailors in your club, fleet, and class, or try Bacon’s, on West Street in Annapolis, which carries a large inventory of used sails.

Finally, you’re ready for the water—but not yet for racing. Sail as much as you can to get the feel of your boat. Learn the controls so well that you can sail without thinking about it. Practice starting, accelerating, stopping, tacking, gybing and timed runs. Hone your sail trim. And dream of the day, not far away, when you’re as ready as your boat to make half a racing team.

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A Rag & Some Common Sense can Keep Your Boat Running Right
by Joseph Bulko

“If you take care of the little things regularly, you generally avoid a lot of the big professional service bills,” advises Owen Morgan “Rusty” Jones, descendent of Welsh kings, son of Naval Academy chemistry professor Owen L. Jones, and the best boat mechanic you could want.

He’s the 30ish redhead, now faded and thinning from years of searing sun and salty sea, who delivers straight talk and good service from Chesapeake Outboard and Marine Services, of Arnold.

A sample: “If you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t do it. Call somebody who does. Half of doing a good job is knowing what not to get your hands into to keep from goofing up in the first place.”

What’s the most important engine maintenance tool? A rag to clean your dipstick when checking the oil level. Next? The pair of reading glasses many boat owner need to read the owner/service manual, which details proper service and operation methods.

Other maintenance tips: Pull off and grease the propeller shaft spline at least once a year. Flush salt water out of the cooling system with fresh water. Why? Salt reacts with aluminum to create a mess in the cooling system, which eventually will clog passages and cause the engine to overheat.

If your boat is used infrequently, fuel problems can foul both in diesel or gasoline engines. Diesels are susceptible to algae, which enters the tank via water in dockside refueling tanks, condensation or even airborne spores.

“The algae live in the water, eat the diesel fuel and lie at the bottom of the tank,” Jones explains. When the infrequent boater goes out and things get stirred up, the fuel filter packs up with algae and the engine shuts down.

“Dead or alive, algae will clog your fuel filter,” Jones warns. The solution: kill the algae with an algicide chemical and replace the filter.

Gasoline’s main problem is aging. “Last year’s gas is basically a mixture of pickle juice and old varnish,” says Jones, warning of potential damage to the fuel system and key engine parts. “It smells about the same and does real nasty things to the motor.”

The lifespan for the gas-and-oil mixture used in two-stroke engines is about 30 days. After that, it will neither start well nor burn well. A good grade of gasoline and oil costs more but works better. “It’s a small price to pay for reliability,” Jones says.

Ever think of this one? Run aground and your water-cooled motor will suck up the sand and mud, storing up big problems for later. Dig your boat out and save your engine.

Fishing line is another expensive nuisance. Carelessly discarded nylon line wrap around propeller shafts, where it can slide up underneath the prop shaft seal and wear away the seal.

“The lube comes out, the water comes in and I get richer,” Jones says. One boater paid Jones $900 for parts alone to repair nylon line strangulation.

Both powerboaters and sailboaters suffer engine problems, but sailboaters make Jones suffer.

“Powerboaters respect their engines, respect their boats and respect the people who work on them and keep them going for them because, ‘no motor, no move’,” he says. “Sailboaters hate that lump of iron sitting in the bilge. They hate to pay for it...The only time they really like that thing to run is when they’re off a lee shore and their No. 3 jenny is blown out.”

He adds: “The wind blows free and sailboaters expect everything else to come that way, too.”

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Weird Wind Reversals: Bay Sailor’s Plague
by Fred B. Scott

My boating pal and I had just picked up my new 21-foot sailboat at Backyard Boats in Shadyside. That was a few moons ago, in the early 1980s. During our pleasant sail in the mouth of West River, we noticed dark clouds building up to the north.

We were happy with the boat’s performance and reluctant to leave. But periodically we cast a weather eye at those dark northward clouds. After 15 minutes, we decided to drop sails and motor the rest of the way.

I went forward to the bow pulpit to drop the jib. The wind was coming from the south, and our sails were starboard. Wham! A violent wind reversal hit us. The boom slammed from starboard to port.

The boat was heeled to the gunwales, and I found my self hanging to the bow pulpit, my body dragging in the water at my beltline. “What happened?” I asked my pal. He, hanging onto the tiller, wore a broad smile as he said something like, “I know it’s not the time to say it, but you look funny as hell hanging out there.” I retorted in my most eloquent sailor’s language.

The boat forgave our seamanship, pointing itself into the new direction of the wind and pulling me back on the bow. Years later, I understood what had happened to us.

The Chesapeake is noted for its sudden and violent summer thunder and lightning storms—and its wind reversals. It’s not unusual to have a light southerly wind blowing while dark cumulonimbus thunderheads are building up northward. Frequently, just before a storm hits, the wind will reverse with a jolt from a south to north. Expect rain, thunder, and lightning to follow close behind.

The best thing to do when you see a thunderstorm coming your way is to run for shore. If you can’t make it, prepare your boat for sudden wind reversal. Anchor and go below to wait out the storm. Avoid metal objects like stoves and sailboat masts. Unplug electrical appliances, and, if you have a telephone on board, don’t use it unless you must call for help. Why? To avoid becoming one of the few boaters hit by lightning every summer.

Safety is best remembered before you go out. Monitor weather reports before you cast off. (On the water, static on an AM radio can be an early warning that a thunderstorm is in the area.)

As an extra precaution against lightning , learn if your boat is grounded to water by checking with your watercraft dealer. If your craft is not grounded to water, consider attaching a heavy copper wire, like a battery cable, or a steel chain to the uppermost part of your boat, letting the other end hang in the water.

Today, I can laugh at myself as my pal saw me a decade ago, hanging on for dear life. But I don’t laugh at Chesapeake weather.

Freelancer Fred Scott lives in Clinton and sails out of Herrington Harbour North.

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Bytes on Board

Why Some Bay Boaters Keep a Computer in Their Gear
Got your ears on, good buddy?

No, sailor, but I just logged on to my computer.

The computer information era is hovering over the water and about to descend.

Sailors and boaters in eight regions in the United States and Canada are hooked into the new Ship to Shore Online Information Service, trading tips on everything from blisters to boat deals to the weather in Bermuda.

On S2S, the name the service goes by, boaters log on to their computers at home or on board and dial up a world of information.

They “gam” on computer bulletin boards, looking to see who won a regatta, where to cruise or who’s looking to crew next Sunday. There’s even a batch of tips on how to boat-break your dog. You type in doggie.do.

“I believe everybody will be doing this sooner or later. I just love it,” says S2S devotee Charles Stuart.

Stuart, who does his boating on the Chesapeake Bay, is the “sysop”—systems operator—hereabouts. The S2S computer phone line nearest the Bay right now is in Northern Virginia: 703/525-1458.

S2S is not a business. Rather, it’s a loose-knit collective of boaters, mostly sailors, and marine enterprises. Indeed, S2S is free, except for phone calls. What you need, of course, is a computer—which you may already have—and the necessary software.

Stuart logs on with his PC at home in Virginia or, with his Toshiba laptop, on his sailboat docked in Deale. With the newest cellular phone technology, members can dial in to S2S from sea.

S2S was born in Toronto four years ago, spread to the West Coast and then worked its way back to us. The Chesapeake Bay area already has attracted 350 members in the short time since Stuart set up the phone line in Virginia.

Fittingly, Stuart heads the maritime systems technology office in the federal Advanced Research Projects Agency. Even among government critics, his agency draws praise for practical successes.

Stuart, 50, a North Carolina native, was on the mend from back surgery a year ago when he created a wine-and-sail bulletin board. Laughlin Hughes, the Canadian who founded S2S, saw Stuart’s creation and asked him to be a sysop.

Of course, there are those who feel that boating and computing smacks of combining work with play. Some who stare at a computer screen every day might not be inclined to do so come the weekend.

If you do, you might have to endure the kind of good-natured taunts that Stuart heard on a recent weekend from his wife, Ann, a Missouri native.

“Get up on deck and have a beer with the rest of us and quit fooling around with your computer,” she chided.

Stuart is hooked. His back is fine now, but he’s aching to share the knowledge and pleasure that S2S can bring. He’s also looking for someone in the Annapolis area to be a sysop, which would enable Bay boaters to log in with a local phone call.

“We want to get to the point where we have many more people,” Stuart said. “The fun is having lots of people use it and trade information.”

Want to know more? Call Stuart at 703/525-1164.

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Keep Your Boat Ship Shape

About some of the best things in life have their drawbacks. Things that we’d rather not think about, let alone talk about.

Pleasure boats can be that way. Especially those with a head on board. Sometimes out on the water, that toilet’s worth its weight in gold.

But as that holding tank fills and ripens, it’s worth its weight in only one thing … something we’d rather not think about.

What are you to do here on the Chesapeake Bay, where it’s illegal and downright bad for the water to discharge human waste?

Chuck Holm has an answer. Holm, of Edgewater, will bring his ____-foot Boston Whaler to your boat at its slip or mooring and pump out your waste.

What led Holm, who is also an underwater diver and hull worker, to a career in holding tank pump-out?

“I realized that for the diving business to increase I’d have to spend more time in the water,” he said. “And the piles I see under people’s boats ….”

You get the idea.

This isn’t how Holm gets his thrills. He does charge for the service—an average of $1 per gallon, he says.

Holm isn’t the only one in the pump-out business. In fact, his biggest competitor is the state.

Since 1989 the Department of Natural Resources’ office of Boating Administration has been providing grants of up to $12,500 to marinas willing to purchase, install and run a pump-out station. However, the marina must agree to charge no more than $5 per pump-out to be eligible for this money.

There are currently 93 waste pump-out stations along Maryland’s docks and marinas, according to Don O’Neill, of DNR’s Boating Administration. Sixty-one of those were funded through the state’s grant program, he said.

O’Neill estimates that out of 190,000-plus boats home-ported in Maryland, 12,000 to 13,000 have holding tanks, which are capable of discharging waste. Thirty-nine thousand have portable toilets, which are basically porta-potties with no outward drain, he said.

“There’s no requirement that a vessel have an installed toilet,” O’Neill said. “But it is a violation of state and federal law to discharge raw sewage anywhere within Maryland water.”

Larger boats often have holding tanks that treat waste and these can legally discharge their waste into the Bay.

“But we would encourage all boaters to get their vessels pumped out,” O’Neill said.

Right now, encourage is all DNR can do.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency makes the rules and won’t declare the Chesapeake a “no discharge zone” until there are enough pump-out stations to handle all the waste. And enforcement is the U.S. Coast Guard’s jurisdiction.

In the meantime, the goal is to set up enough pump-out stations that it’s easy and painless for boaters to use them, O’Neill said. And at $5 “it’s low enough that boaters will pay.”

In fact, the price is so low that O’Neill wonders whether there’s a market for people like Holm.

“I don’t know whether they could make a living out of it or not,” O’Neill said. “We’d be rooting for them if they could get the sewage out of the water.”

But Peter Burlinson, who works for the Edson Pump Company in Massachusetts, thinks there’s plenty of room for entrepreneurs in the pump-out business.

“It’s a very viable business,” Burlinson said. “If you have dock-side pump-out and everyone comes in Sunday night with full holding tanks and they want to pump out, they don’t want to wait around, so in open water they might discharge [their sewage].

“Boaters will comply if it’s convenient,” he said. “And they’d be willing to pay for that.”

The value of convenience is what Holm is banking on. The whole procedure is short and simple, he said, so that if everything’s set up in advance the boat owner doesn’t even have to be around.

“People don’t calculate on a pump-out and you have to look for for those stations,” Holm said. “I’m on the water all the time and it’s nothing for me to do it.”

Still, whether you stop at a dockside pump-out station or hire someone like Holm to haul your troubles away, it’s a little inconvenient.

Why even bother? What harm can one person’s waste do?

“The discharge of boat sewage is just a small part of the overall pollution problem confronting the Bay,” O’Neill admits. “Except that boat sewage adds to the problem.

“You can rationalize and say ‘my little bit of sewage doesn’t hurt,’ but with all the thousands of boats here in Maryland, it does hurt.”

Holm estimates that people who use their marine toilets on a semi-regular basis, “wind up with 40 or 50 gallons a season.”

Multiply that by just a fraction of the boats on the Chesapeake and you could be up to your ears in it.

Burlinson supports a change in environmental consciousness. The goal: “To make it socially unacceptable to pump-out overboard, to throw garbage overboard.”

But changing the way people think can be slow, Holm counters. He suggests stricter law enforcement. “I think the greatest motivation is fear.”

Whatever the motivation, with nearly 100 Maryland pump-out stations and mobile services such as Holm’s, there are no excuses for discharging waste into the Bay.

“Boat sewage is something very easy to control,” O’Neill said. “You either make a conscious decision to pollute or a conscious decision not to pollute.”

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It's a warm, cloudless Sunday afternoon in May at Point Lookout State Park. Children wade in the water, but its still-icy nip keeps others out.

Except for 46-year-old Joe Stewart, who is about to come ashore after more than four hours in the Potomac River.

Just a few hundred yards more and he'll complete his 6.3 nautical-mile swim.

At first only the couple of dozen people gathered to greet Stewart seem to notice him or his canoe and tow boat escort.

But as Stewart nears you can't miss his fluorescent orange bathing cap, his black wet-suit and finally his face.

Stewart could stand if he wanted but keeps swimming instead.

Now, sensing that something is going on, a crowd watches.

Finally the water becomes too shallow and Stewart crawls, then stands and walks—a little disoriented—onto dry sand.

People whoop, cheer and reach out to shake his hand, to touch him.

"What did he do?" a little girl asks. Someone answers that Stewart just swam the mouth of the Potomac. "Why'd you do that?" the girl asks Stewart.

A smile crosses Stewart's stubbled, freckled face and he seems to regain his bearings. "For the river's sake," he replies. In fact Stewart's swim raised $1,296 in the river's name.

After a shower and change of clothes, Stewart returned to the beach to present checks to representatives from St. Mary's College, the Sierra Club of Maryland, St. Mary's County Watermen's Association, Point Lookout State Park, the Potomac River Association, and St. Mary's County Friends of the Chesapeake.

Stewart also hopes his swim will draw more attention to the pollution threatening the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay.

“Anything and everything helps,” said Bud Ridgell, who was born in St. Mary's County and has lived in the Point Lookout area most of his life. At 71, Ridgell said he's seen a lot of changes in the Bay and the river.

“As far as swimming’s concerned, it was getting to the point with the pollution that you couldn't swim in [the river].” Groups swam and even raced across the Potomac regularly in the '50s and '60s, Ridgell said.

Stewart hopes his swim will encourage others to join him next year.

This is not Stewart’s first long-distance swim. He’s participated in the “Bay Swim” and the “Swim for Life” on the Gunpowder River to raise money for AIDS.

And it won’t be his last. Stewart said he’ll be swimming in the “Bay Swim” July 13 and another “Swim for Life” AIDS benefit at Gunpowder State Park on June 19.

However, Stewart’s Potomac swim, “For the River’s Sake,” is twice the distance of any of his other open water swims.

Stewart, a recovering alcoholic, said he thought of his friends to keep warm and chanted to himself and the river to keep focused.

“The hardest part was about two-thirds of the way across. I just was getting really tired,” he said. One of his support team got in the water with him and gave him the will to keep swimming.

“I couldn’t have done it without my support team.”

—To join or donate to the 1993 Maryland Swim For Life, see Calendar and call 410/243-4418.

Big Bad Boat Taxes
Perhaps you don’t think much of President Bill Clinton’s deficit-cutting, fat cat-taxing, gas tax-hiking budget package. But it has a bonus for people along the Chesapeake.

Fine print in the bill would repeal that 10 percent luxury tax on boats with a price tag over $100,000. Clinton’s package squeaked through the House and now, with some deals being cut, looks like it will win Senate approval by July 4.

You and I probably don’t have $100,000 to blow on a boat. But there are more reasons to root for repeal. The tax has been a bust since it started two years ago, depressing not only boat sales but also services that depend on them.

The tax has drive boat hunters with fat wallets to the Caribbean and elsewhere to shop. It’s part of why one of every six jobs in the marine industry has been lost and why, in Maryland alone, 300 of 1,500 marine businesses have gone under.

We may grumble at the higher price of gas and diesel under Clinton. But as soon as the budget bill is signed, two welcome sounds will be heard: checks ripping out for big boats and money trickling down through the marine industry along the Bay.

Mystery No More?
Could it be, after all these years, that the mystery of the <Khian Sea> is solved? And that the answer to this world-famous puzzle lay all along in Anne Arundel County?

You may have forgotten, but the <Khian Sea > was the wandering waste ship that tramped to five continents in the 1980s looking for a place to deposit 10,000 tons of hazardous waste.

Like a shadow in the Bay mist, the ill-fated ship would appear in faraway ports in search of a dumping ground. Nearly all of Central America and the Caribbean turned it down, as did countries in the Europe and Southeast Asia.

Nobody, not even needy nations, wanted a cargo of Philadelphia incinerator ash laced with arsenic, mercury, cyanide and a combo of toxics. Some turned away the ship at gunpoint.

Along the way, the <Khian Sea > became a symbol of industrial nations shipping their danger to poor and unequipped lands. It hastened a United Nations treaty, bills in Congress and waste import bans in over 90 countries.

Weird things happened on its odyssey. In Haiti, a video camera recorded a crew member stuffing a handful of the grayish residues in his mouth and chewing. He thought he was showing the world that the ash was safe.

The Haitian government ordered the boat to get out of town. The <Sea >did, but not before leaving behind 3,000 tons of waste on a beach, where to this day it erodes into the ocean.

Finally, the rust-bleeding hulk turned up empty in Houston, with no clue about the fate of its cargo.

The mystery may be solved. In Delaware federal court this month, <Khian Sea >‘s captain fingered the Annapolis businessmen who dispatched the ship on its voyage. The captain said he was ordered to dump the ash in the ocean.

The Annapolitans, John Doud and William Reilly, who were officers of the now-defunct Coastal Carriers, Inc., face charges of ocean dumping and lying to a grand jury. They’re innocent, they say.

The moral? Exploit poor countries and some day you will pay.

“People who are engaged in waste exports will be held accountable, by the U.S. government, by us or by somebody else,” observed Jim Vallette, who heads Greenpeace’s campaign against toxic exports.

North Beach Touring
Not often amid life’s break-neck pace do we have a chance to step into another era, to move at slower paces and observe beautiful places.

An opportunity comes up on June 6 at North Beach’s eighth annual Home & Garden Tour. It all starts at Nice and Fleazy Antiques, where you hop into a Model A, Henry Ford’s enduring creation.

From there, you are carted to dreamlike destinations, among them precious cottages, a romantic inn and a restored barber shop. Or, you may tour one of the modern condos of North Beach and Chesapeake Beach with their panoramic views of the Bay.

The theme of this year’s tour—nostalgia to contemporary—is intended to broaden people’s view of Calvert County’s swiftly changing face. Yet the tour remains small and sufficiently concise to convey some of the old-time values that make this area special.

“We want to show what a loving, sharing, caring neighborhood we live in,” said Dale Thomas of Nice and Fleazy, who is coordinating the tour.

(Tickets are $5 in advance and $7 on Sunday. Call 301/855-5066.)

Way Downstream
Our Bay is not the only water where fertilizers bring problems. In Poland, algae growth from nitrogen and phosphorous has nearly shut down sewage treatment plants several times. Officials are tackling the problem in an enterprising way: holding a competition to develop products safe for Polish rivers...

Sister Bay Update—If you get to Los Angeles, you may have noticed warning signs out on the beach. About the only people who ventured into the water in Santa Monica Bay in recent years were diehard surfers and people who don’t speak, or read, English.

Good news. Thanks to clean-up efforts, Santa Monica Bay has just been declared swimmable...

In the Creatures Category, we have some uplifting bits of news for those worried about extinction. In California, breeders report that a Condor recovery program is succeeding. Only 27 of these giant birds remain, a decline viewed by many as a symbol of Earth’s problems.

But shortly, there will be 10 to 15 additional birds released annually from the Los Angeles Zoo to replenish the species.

Likewise, in Rhode Island, officials report recovery of the osprey, which they attribute to the ban on DDT pesticides. Over 40 osprey nests were spotted there recently; just two were found in the 1970s when pesticide problems were at their worst.

And in case you’re looking for some offbeat dinner conversation, try the rhinoceros. United Nations’ pressure to save the rhino appears to be working; the Nairobi Daily Nation reports that Kenya’s rhino population has increased to 420 from 340 two years ago.

It should be noted that poached rhino is a crime, not a dish.

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You don’t have to be an old-timer to recall schools of strapping American shad in the Chesapeake Bay. Or herring. Or the croaker, flounder, hardhead and bountiful sea trout (weakfish) that combined for angling joy and good business.

Some will tell you to sit tight, these things run in cycles.

Don’t listen.

Many factors make for declining fish populations. But truth be told, we Marylanders are victims. Victims of commercial intercept boats in Virginia that harvest shad en route to their spawning rivers. Victims of North Carolinians plundering sea trout.

The critical state of migratory fish in our region requires a fix that goes beyond the Bay. The best solution out there is legislation in Congress to force cooperation among states.

The bill, authored by Rep. Gerry Studds (D-Mass) requires fish management plans in the Atlantic coastal region. It has teeth to make them work: authority for the federal government to slap on fishing bans in states that drag their feet.

Don’t let anybody snow you with claptrap about this bill tramping on states’ rights. You’ll hear that in Virginia, where they’re opposing the Studds bill and fighting to protect their right to overfish.

The bill needs work. Provisions for sea trout should be sped up. The Interior Secretary needs to be given enforcement power equal with the Commerce Secretary.

But the concept is sound and badly needed. Maryland members of Congress ought to battle for this legislation. Simply endorsing it is not enough.

MVA (Many Vipers Afoot)
A caller asked if we write only about the Chesapeake Bay and its people. No. We are drawn to many issues, among them government’s maddening ways.

In this space today, we write about a plague that has afflicted many Baysiders—rudeness by the Motor Vehicle Administration. Our experience is fresh.

You’d think licensing a truck would be a simple dealing. In Maryland, think again. After waiting in line for 45 minutes, we were greeted by Clerk No. 1.

“Give me your papers,” she barked.

“What specifically do you need, ma’m?” we said.


She immediately declared our title no good, which was nonsense. Corrected by her supervisor, she grudgingly dispatched us to wait some more.

About 50 minutes later, we said hello to Clerk No. 2. She said nothing, until she found and chided us over her own imaginary problem. Finally, she handed over the tags, but not before berating us once more, this time for the way we had made out our check. A fat check at that.

Is this necessary? Could it be that some MVA offices hold rudeness competitions? After closing, they howl with laughter as they tell tales of misery inflicted. (“I sent this one fool all the way to Baltimore, then I locked the door just when he got back.”)

The solution is much too sensible. Put the MVA under an elected official, as many states do. How long will people act like jerks when their neck is next in line after their boss’s?

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Community Journalism
Dear New Bay Times:
Congratulations! The first issue looked great. It made me hungry for crabs and oysters.

Community journalism is one of America’s best traditions—but it is under siege from chains and corporations. I wish you all the best in your admirable enterprise.

—David Corn, The Nation, Washington DC

Breaking Even?
Dear New Bay Times:
As a former publisher, I looked through your publication with interest and noted, among other things, that you have enough ads. It looks like you have a real shot at breaking even.

- U.S. Sen. Paul Simon, Illinois

Dear Reader:
Sen. Simon is an old friend of New Bay Times’ founders. He is known, among other things, for his sense of humor.

- Editor, New Bay Times

Dear New Bay Times:
I really love New Bay Times. I like the conservation aspect, the fact that it’s centered on the Bay. I grew up here on the Bay, and I want to see the environment preserved. This is a good way to support peoples’ interests and concerns.

—Nancy Allison, Lusby

Dear New Bay Times:
What a great paper! It was a nice surprise to find it and know that we can read about what’s going on at the Bay before we come visit.

After reading about her in New Bay Times, we have to go see Vera and her restaurant. (Vera White Sands Restaurant in Lusby)

—Sherryl and Michael, Kirkpatrick, Madison, VA

Questions, Questions
Dear New Bay Times:
Okay, now that you are off and running and such a total success, I am sure you look forward to hearing from your readers about our interests in future stories. So here is my say:

  • Where do bats go in the wintertime?
  • Why do each of us (in Fairhaven) have to have our own wells?
  • What do you do with empty propane bottles?
  • Is there anything useful you can do with jellyfish?
  • How do we get more people to stop all the pollution run-off into the Bay?
  • What about a “riverboat” revival between Baltimore and North Beach?

This is just a start, but you are the first newspaper I could ask these questions of. While they may not be answered, I know they will not go unrecognized.

By the way, my arugula is doing great, and small green strawberries are readying themselves for June. The first crabs of the season were so tender and sweet I look forward to many more. It all makes me think of summertime and the “blues” fishing again!

Thanks for being a paper for us “Bay folks.”

— F.M. Peters, Fairhaven Cliffs

Worth Reading
Dear New Bay Times;
I finally got around to reading New Bay Times. I really liked it because it has a point of view. It isn’t bland, like every other newspaper around. The articles are about things that are worth reading.

—Gael Ensor, Silver Spring

Stab at Journalism?
Dear New Bay Times;
I have seen most of your issues when I was home from school, and I have a question.

How can New Bay Times be a newspaper if you don’t have the words “stab,” “murder,” and “crack” on the front page?

Seriously, I am enjoying reading about the Chesapeake and learning things, too. My favorites are “News of the Weird” and your horoscopes, which really are weird!

Will you pay more attention to local bands and the music scene so that I won’t need any other newspaper?

—Kate Quinn, Severna Park

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What Newspapers Can Do to Please Us
By Frank Denton

(Mr. Denton is editor of the Wisconsin State Journal and former chair of the literacy committee of the American Society of Newspaper Editors. His words are exerpted from the Diane Rehm show on WAMU-FM. We thank WAMU for permission to print.)

People think they’re informed by mainstream television. They convince themselves of that. But research shows that people who rely on television know less and do less about it than people who read.

I don’t think that newspapers are dull if the alternative is to make them more like television. Newspapers can’t compete with television. What we need to do is focus on what we uniquely can do that television can not or has not done. That has a lot to do with substance and with explanation.

Our research, which is probably the most thorough and controlled research ever done on newspaper writing, shows that the single most important thing newspapers can do is break free from some of their historical restraints.

That is reliance on the inverted pyramid, block paragraphs, artifical transitions and some of the newswriting conventions that we adopted in the last century for technological reasons that have disappeared.

We tend to stick to them because that’s the way we were always taught, and we condition ourselves to believe that that’s the way you’re supposed to write newspaper stories.

What is the inverted pyramid? The most important fact of a story goes at the very beginning and then there’s a descending order of importance of facts in the story. It was founded in the 19th century in part because the telegraph lines lines during the Civil War might go down at any moment, and reporters wanted to get out as much of their story as they could.

What editors and writers really ought to do is adopt a multiplicity of devices. Probably the most successful one, our research shows, is a story-telling style. Simply tell the story the way one would tell it to one’s spouse.

People like to hear stories. They like beginnings and middles and ends and they like character development. You don’t have to throw all the facts at them at the very beginning to keep them.

When one sits down at a computer or with a quill pen, one adopts false structures. But if you’re sitting down with a friend to tell them what you did today, you tend to tell it in a more compelling manner.

In a natural, storytelling style, one thing flows naturally out of another.

Courage to change is the issue. Newspapers really are traditional institutions and it’s hard for us to change.

The major factor in whether someone gets something out of a newspaper is whether it interests them or whether it affects them directly.

In many stories, it might be best to tell the story in a narrative storytelling style but then have what we call a sidebar, a little box next to it to lay out important facts in the story, define the terms and tell people where they can get more information. Then people can choose their method of communication.

Unlike television, newspaper reading requires a few quiet moments. Increasingly in this lifestyle and age, people don’t have them. And that’s the major reason that newspaper readership is flat, at best.

Shorter newspaper stories may be helpful. But if a story is good enough, if it’s about something people care about, they’ll find time to read a long story.

The benefit of a newspaper is that you can sit and choose and have a good time while you stay in touch with the world. Try to do that with CBS’s 20 minutes of news once a day.

A main goal is liberation; to free reporters from the old conservative restraints and style.

Ninety-some percent of what you read in a newspaper is true, and everything that goes into a newspaper is true to the best ability of the people who produce it under severe time constraints. But we’re human, and we foul some things up.

Trying to find instant truth is not easy.

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The Real “Mary Edna”
That draketail’s “just another boat,” to its namesake, 88-year-old Mary Edna Marshall, who can’t understand what all the fuss is about.

“I thought that <Mary Edna> was on the junkpile,” she retorts. And that’s not all “Miz Marshall” has to say: “Those draketails weren’t considered anything till that <Mary Edna> got turned over to the museum.” (In this same issue of <New Bay Times>, you can read about the <Mary Edna’s> new life with the Draketail Foundation.)

Boats were as ordinary to her as frying up a batch of chicken or crab cakes (turn to “Laughing Gourmet” for a loose version of her unparalleled crab cake recipe).

After all, her husband built boats everyday, and had done so since before he married his neighbor Mary Edna Ford until the day he died, at 55 years old, in 1958.

Bernard Alfonso Marshall—whom nobody but his wife and mother knew by his given names—had boat building in his blood. Dukey, as he was called, began as a boy, building workboats for crabbers and oystermen alongside his father. All his six brothers but one “followed the water.”

Dukey Marshall kept on building boats. Even when his boatyard shut down during World War II, he worked as a civilian shipwright for the Coast Guard at Curtis Bay.

The usual product of his Rockhold Creek boatyard (Gates Marina stands on the spot nowadays) was a wider, Bay-built wooden boat with a cabin sized for charter fishing. He’d build a boat and might run it a year or so himself, for he worked summers fishing. Then he’d sell the old boat and build himself a new one.

For Dukey Marshall, that draketail was an experiment. “He didn’t talk much about it, but he was thinking about it. Every once in a while, he’d say he’d like to do it,” his wife remembers. The boat Dukey named after his wife was modeled on an Eastern Shore style. The <Mary Edna>’s the only known old-time draketail built on the Western Shore during the style’s short heyday in the 20s and 30s.

“A draketail was a good workboat. It was narrow and could go about anywhere, though maybe it wasn’t quite wide enough to be a perfect charter boat,” says Tom Marshall, youngest son of Dukey and Mary Edna Marshall.

Dukey named his boats after the women in his family. Did he tell “Miz Marshall” his “experiment” would have her name? “No indeed. He just went and named it.”

Even after it bore her name, Mary Edna Marshall didn’t pay the boatbuilding much mind. “I’d walk down to the boat yard once in a while but there was always such a crowd of men I didn’t stay,” she recalls.

Her life was women’s work: raising three boys born at home, keeping house, cooking meals whose taste lingers in mouthwatering memory. “I just did what had to be done,” Miz Marshall explains.

When Dukey was not working on boats, he was most likely taking a party out fishing.

The <Mary Edna> took the family to a regatta at Galesville. On that and a few other remembered family boating excursions, Miz Marshall would fix dinner “and we’d eat on the boat.”

But boatbuilding infected her sons. Tom was kept out of trouble with a hammer and nails. “I must have driven 10 pounds of nails into the dirt floor of that old boathouse,” he remembers.

He’d like to have followed the water, but times were changing. Until his day, a man went crabbing and oystering each in its season, and raised a garden and chickens. After the 30s, when the roads brought the big cities nearer to the Bay, charter fishing gave a new income. Anymore, a man couldn’t expect to support a family on the water and land they lived on.
But Tom Marshall stayed close. Though his work as a nuclear plant inspector takes him around the country, he and his wife Lillian make their home in Tracy’s Landing. Nowadays, Miz Marshall stays with them while a hip, broken in April, is healing.

Brother Norman, the middle son, was infected, too. Though Deale’s Sunoco Station is his business, his hobby is building scale model boats to order. He’s planning a model of the <Mary Edna.>

The real Mary Edna hasn’t wasted much time on old times. What was, was, she seems think—and moves right along with the changes.

So she’s surprised that people would want to think about “that old <Mary Edna”> or hear her story.

“You’ve got more of me now than I’d remembered for a long time,” says Mary Edna Marshall.

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By Auto
Dipping into the Eastern Shore
by L. Peat O’Neil

Residents of Maryland’s Eastern shore claim their way of life is special. “Where the livin’ is easy,” locals say. And certainly watery.

Eight of the nine Maryland counties on the Delmarva Peninsula border the Chesapeake Bay or the Atlantic. And tributaries of the Chesapeake snake through the coastal lowlands.

This arterial system of rivers, creeks, channels and necks, as the small inlets are called, creates an extensive shoreline, perfect for boating, fishing, sailing and windsurfing, and seafood.

Stop at Stevensville on Kent Island to get into the Eastern Shore mood. Classic wooden storefronts have been lovingly restored for new life as antique emporiums and trendy cafes. But for a glimpse of authentic Eastern Shore living, shuffle over to No Place, on Main Street, for a beer and a round of pool.

Follow Rt. 50 down to Talbot County, in the center of the Eastern Shore, for more small towns long on history, charm, and hefty servings of the price of the Chesapeake watermen: oysters, crabs, clams, and mussels.

Wye Mills is best knows for the 450-year-old Wye Oak, largest white oak in the the country and much revered by the locals. There’s a picnic area near the tree.

Easton, Talbot County’s seat, is a tidy mix of old and new. Walking tours are offered by the historic society. The Tidewater Inn is the place to stay.

From Easton, it’s just 10 minutes on flat, straight country roads—great for bicycling—to Royal Oak, deep in the heart of the Eastern Shore. Royal Oak is just a country crossroads marked by a general store, some houses and a couple of churches.

Dedicated browsers will want to check out Oak Creek Sales, a creaky emporium of collectibles and bric-a-brac from local attics.

Royal Oak’s centerpiece is the Pasadena Inn, a former plantation with a private dock where country calm has married European charm. Rooms at the Pasadena are not too chintzy, not too Ashley, but an artful mix of convenience and country.

This inn isn’t for the claw-footed crowd; no rust stains and dripping faucets here. Recently renovated bathrooms are spacious and sleekly plumbed, and the suite comes with a Jacuzzi tub.

The art of cooking is respected here, too. The Pasadena’s menu features creative American cuisine.

Graceful white egrets and herons, best seen in the cool gray of early morning or a misty day, mirror the gliding sailboats below. They’re likely flying home to Blackwater Wildlife Preserve, secreted near Cambridge.

Minutes by car from Royal Oak is St. Michael’s. Situated on a broad arm of the Eastern Bay, St. Michael’s has to some people become a cliche stopover for Sunday sailors who jib the hot air of Washington, DC during the week.

The Chesapeake Bay maritime Museum there, well worth a visit, features an authentic lighthouse, skipjacks and other restored skiffs and a collection of antique decoys.

St. Michael’s does not lack for historic inns. Wade’s Point Inn on the Bay and the Inn at Perry Cabin are expensively loaded with laid-back ambiance and are reliably attentive to guests’ needs.

To experience the nuances of life on the Eastern Shore, you’ve got to get out on the water. Guests at the country inns on the waterfront can sometimes arrange to borrow a boat and cast off from the hotel’s private dock. Almost every waterside town on the Eastern Shore has a boat charter or rental company.

Another way to savor the waterways is on the Bellevue-Oxford Ferry. Reckoned to have begun operating in 1688 and in continuous service since 1836, the Bellevue-Oxford is chief contender for the title of oldest ferry service in the country. The spanking bright, white-and-green Talbot trundles bicyclists, walkers and up to nine cars at a time across the Tred Avon River.

The Bellevue Store, close to the ferry dock on the Bellevue side, is an oasis of sophisticated handmade crafts and gifts—musical instruments, cards, blank books, T-shirts, and jewelry.

On the south side of the Tred Avon, Oxford is a pretty waterside village of near-storybook tidiness. Stores like the Tender Herb on Tilghman Street, or Irish Creek Trading Co. and The Towne Shoppe on North Morris Street offer an eclectic mix of regional crafts, sailing gear, gifts and hardware.

Dine on the Oxford wharf at the low-key, moderately priced Town Creek restaurant and marina where the specialties are, not surprisingly, oysters, crab cakes, clams, crabs, and fresh grilled fish. The Masthead Restaurant dresses up the same basic ingredients with uncommon flair and prices to match.

Oxford’s best address is the Robert Morris Inn where James Michener, author of <Chesapeake>, preferred to eat his crab cakes. The Robert Morris Inn advises that their accommodations are not suitable for children under age 10 or pets.

For more modest lodgings, try The 1876 House Bed and Breakfast, furnished with Queen Anne reproductions.

Throughout the Eastern Shore, old, new and reproduced combine to please the visitor.

RESOURCES: (all numbers are 410)
  • Bellevue: The Bellevue Store: 745-5282.
  • Cambridge: Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge: 228-2677;
  • Easton: Talbot County Chamber of Commerce: 822-4606; The Tidewater Inn: 822-1300.
  • Oxford: Robert Morris Inn: 226-5111; The 1876 Bed and Breakfast: 226-5496; The Masthead: 226-5303; Town
  • Creek Restaurant & marina: 266-5131.
  • Royal Oak: The Pasadena Inn: 745-5053.
  • St. Michael’s: Inn at Perry Cabin: 745-2200; Wade’s Point Inn on the Bay: 745-2500.
  • Maryland Department of Tourism: 333-6611.
  • Outlet Shopping: Two centers are just over the Bay Bridge, gateway to the Eastern Shore: Bay Bridge Market Place (757-9181) and Chesapeake Village at Queenstown (827-8699).

<L. Peat O'Neil usually writes for the> Washington Post (Sunday) Magazine.

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In the water:
There are plenty of crabs mid-Bay. Soft crabs, that is. With the season’s first shedding coming on, males are avoiding pots and the company of their cannibalistic brethren who’d gladly eat them when they lost their shells.

Females, on the other hand, who can only mate in the soft stage, head for the pots hoping for males. That, explains crabber Scott Smith of Herring Bay, whose shedding business is thriving nowadays, is why so many soft-shell crabs are female.

On the Patuxent, soft crabs are “nice, though not abundant,” says R. J. Jones, of Benedict, who runs the only bait and tackle shop on the river.

It’s a good thing there are some crabs around because fish are so scarce that Bay fishermen have to eat their words or buy dinner at the fish store. Trophy rockfish season, of course, is now closed, and many fishermen are left dreaming.

In the air:
Osprey eggs should be pretty well hatched by now, according to observer-teacher Steve Cardano of Nanjemoy. The young birds are just about doubling their weight each week. Feeding the bird-like appetites of two or three young (per successful nest) keeps Papa busy.

On the water, you can see him trolling, circling a school or single fish at about 50 feet. Targeted, he’ll fold his wings and dive straight down, crashing into the water talons first. Then, with tremendous power and most likely a fish clutched in his talons, he’ll beat up and out. Menhaden are Bay osprey favorites, while river osprey are likely to dine on catfish, eel or perch. Nanjemoy Creek osprey enjoy gizzard shad.

The young will be adult sized by July 4, soon ready to spend their first year in South America before returning to the Bay to build their own nests and mate till death do them part.

In the garden:
The news is strawberries. Fields and roadside markets are filled with the sweetest, fattest berries we’ve seen in years. Plain berries, berries with cream, strawberry shortcake and strawberry jam are making happy families and neighbors.

At Johnson’s Berry Farm (Swanson Road off Rt. 301 between Rts. 4 and 214 in PG County), the bounty intoxicated young pickers, who sang:

“Look at those strawberries!”

Rubbing belly: “Those berries are good for me. Make me a big boy.”

“I’m going to eat every one of those berries! People gonna say ‘where’d all the berries go? He ate ‘em!’ ”

“Umm! Good Berries.”

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Breaking Bread along the Bay
Having grown up poor and Italian, my mother never forgot her stepfather’s warning that she must not swallow a single mouthful of food without bread. I’ve known her to miss a plane waiting for a hot, fresh, crusty loaf to emerge from the ovens of a bakery she’d discovered on her infrequent travels.

I inherited both her appetite and her inability to find the time or skill to bake my own yeast breads. So I’ve known years of famine, exiled to Wonderbread, and the rush of discovering—sweeter for its rarity—a really good loaf of bread.

No more. In the 90s, good bread is all around us, nearly everywhere.

Not always were we so lucky. Not that long ago, you could live within the sound of the Chesapeake or you could eat good bread. That choice drove many a Baysider to Washington or Baltimore. Nowadays, you can have your bread and your Bay, too. I wonder if that isn’t why so many relative newcomers have given up their city jobs to work at home or in the local economy. Thought of that way, bread’s a powerful force for economic development and pollution reduction.

What accounts for the rise in good bread? Credit goes to super markets, according to Richard Savel, owner of the Bread Place Bakery in Annapolis. “Bake-offs”-the commercial practice of exporting frozen dough from a central location to be baked on local premises—“have educated people about bread,” Savel says.

Here are some of your choices:
The Bread Place Bakery, Annapolis
Savel and his daughters, Jane and Stephanie, share some responsibility for that education. On busy days, his bakery (plus gourmet deli and sweetery) turns out as many as 800 loaves in, say, 50 rotating varieties. The variety can make your head spin. In this heyday of sourdoughs, his might be flavored with olive, sun-dried tomato paste, walnut and onions, even chocolate. And, he notes, they’re “light enough that they go down easy.”

Want your bread fat free? Choose from French, sourdough, six-grain, marathon, oat-wheat-honey, Krautiner, tomato basil, creole, raisin pecan, or sour rye.

Where can such imagination come from? “My production manager—German-born, French-trained Philippe Bind—and I both have tremendous affinity for food. Our recipes are a cooperative effort. We make New York trips specifically to see what other bakers are doing,” says Savel. Though not a baker himself, his whole career has been in the food industry, where he’s leapt from Murry’s steaks to Vie de France before settling in Annapolis.

Savel’s personal favorite, it turns out, is “just French bread.” (He notes, however, that what we mean by French is not what the French mean. Bread is defined by the grain and water of its region. His high-gluten flour is grown in Nebraska, not France. Nor is American French so hard and quick to stale as French French.)

“I’d rather be known for the basics. Bread is an everyday thing. You want to be able to eat it all the time,” says Savel.

Pat’s Country Bakery, Churchton
The love of bread is oft inherited, and family’s the first thing your learn about from Vera Port, of Arnold. Recently, Port added her “European” breads to Katherine Mercer’s American varieties at Pat’s.

Brazilian, Italian, Czechoslovak—the multi-ethnic Port inherited her love of bread from her father, who carried his tradition from Europe to Brazil, where he trained the servant his daughter copied. “Baking and eating good old fashioned bread was part of our family tradition,” she says.

All her life she dreamed bread, studied bread and baked bread. But she says she never sold bread until “I needed something to do and money to help send my son to medical school.” Mercer and Port—whose husbands share Naval Academy backgrounds—met through an ad, and now Mercer’s country style breads are loaf to loaf with Port’s ethnics. In fact, they emerge from the same ovens.

Mercer’s French and Viennas, whites, wheats, multigrains, and ryes are distinctively American: softer, airier, lightly crusty. Alice Howes, the baker, imparts a country touch.

In contrast, Port’s three-nation breeding informs her 40-some odd breads, which are crusty and substantial, whether from whole grains, tangy spices, or savory herbs and flavorings. One day you might get onion, another garlic, another olive, another—well, it’s surprise that keeps people coming back.

What’s more, each has a subtle tang derived from Port’s custom of baking from “sponge” or already risen, slightly fermented dough. Her true sourdoughs age a couple of days longer for a more decided flavor.

“Bread is life. It’s religion. It’s peace and friendship. There’s nothing else in the world like a good loaf,” says Port.

Smiling, Mercer agrees.

Nick’s Bakery and Deli, Deale
Down the road a mile or two, Nick Mangos bakes the French and Italian bread that keeps our family happy. I can still remember when and where I first met Nick’s bread. My neighbor was serving her husband’s crabs, cold beer, and—wow!, where’d that bread come from?

Crusty on the outside, soft, thick, and chewy on the inside, fresh and fragrant: yes, that’s bread.

Nick’s father was a baker before him, in Greece. In 40 years, Nick has never changed jobs, though he’s changed locations. His move from Eastport in 1989 provoked a printed lament from customer and Washington Post outdoors’ sports writer Angus Phillips.

What did Nick—who earns more income from his sandwiches and pizzas than from his bread—learn from his father?

“Keep the same recipe. Never give it away. Never change it. If you change you lose your friends and customers.”

Bay Country Store, North Beach
Bobby Russo’s mother Ann baked for the love of it. In the basement of their Farrell, PA home, her love poured into the loaves and rolls and cookies. Christmas baking began at Thanksgiving; by the holiday two or three hundred kinds of cookies would have crisped in her ovens. People would lie in wait at the farmers’ market for Ann and her baking to arrive.

So when Bobby and her husband Ron discovered North Beach and poured themselves into it, the empty High’s Dairy Store had to have a bakery. And Bobby traded her paint brush for a pastry brush and submerged her creative energies in dough.

Juggling a deli, carry-out, cafe, ice cream fountain, wine and liquor store, souvenir shop, and bakery convinced Bobby she couldn’t bake from scratch. She signed on with Vie de France “bake-off,” took their training, and bakes their breads, rolls, and sweets fresh every weekend.

Loaves range from French to chop-block specialties flavored with Bobby’s mother’s ingenuity. You might chance on ham and cheddar one weekend, roasted Italian pepper the next, and nacho a third. You might take potluck or, like many customers do, you might order ahead and be sure.

As in her mother’s, there’s an extra ingredient in Bobby Russo’s bread: it’s love for the community she knows she’s helping to create.

“This is a pleasant little town,” she says. “It’s a village where people can walk on the sidewalks and the Bay boardwalk, feel the warm breeze and see the waves. But we’ve got to have something to keep them here, to bring them here…”

Bread, she believes, is that something.

Chesapeake Station Bakery, Chesapeake Beach
As a teenager in Northeast Washington, Sharon Packett learned to bake from Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Sliwicki at their Benning Bakery. She’s done other things with her life—cut meat for Safeway, where she met her husband, Russ, for example. But when she started out on her own, baking got her all over again.

“I love people and making them happy. That’s why I’m here. Fresh, warm, good smelling bread doesn’t only taste good. It makes people happy,” says Packett. And she’s smiling even though her days often begin at 3 or 4 a.m. and don’t end until 7 p.m.

She bakes for Mama Smilardo’s. She baked for the movie, <Avalon.> She bakes for nearly everybody who drives or walks into Chesapeake Station.

Try a round of her sourdough—just heavy enough, just light enough, crusty and full of flavor. Or maybe a loaf or round of her corn meal bread, which is light and almost disintegrating, but with so satisfying a flavor. You’ll love her bread—and her, too.

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To get the best of the Soft Crab season, follow crabber Scott Smith’s recipe:

First clean the crab. Since fresh soft shell crabs are alive, squeamish people may prefer to soft freeze crabs before cleaning. With a sharp knife, cut away face. Open top shell and cut out the lungs or “dead man’s fingers.” Some scrupulous cleaners will also remove internal organs and “mustard.” Flip the crab over and cut off the middle “apron” (broad for females, narrow on males).

You may, or may not, rinse. Finally dry thoroughly.

Cook the crab in a frying pan sprayed with Pam. Arrange soft crabs in hot pan and lightly sprinkle with cayenne pepper and salt. Fry over medium heat 4-5 minutes on each side.

Going gourmet? Pour 1-2 T brandy over finished crabs. Flame and serve hot.

When Hard Shell Crabs are abundant, it’s be time to enjoy this adaptation of Mary Edna Marshall’s old fashioned crabcakes.

Catch your own crabs. Steam on a rack over salted and peppered boiling water—no vinegar, please, for Miz Marshall. Eat all you can hold; pick the rest.

For about a pound of picked crab, add 1 and 1/2 slices of dry, crumbled bread, a chunk of melted butter, the “fat” tucked into each point of the shell, and just enough milk to bind the mixture. Season with salt and pepper.

Make into patties about the size of the palm of your hand.

Fry in just enough butter to keep from sticking (Miz Marshall used Crisco) in an iron skillet. Start hot but lower the heat to avoid burning. Serve on homemade rolls, or try our next recipe.

Bobby Russo of Bay Country Store, North Beach offers her ever-baking mother’s recipes

Ann Bobby’s No-Knead White Bread: For three loaves
1 1/2 C scalded milk
1/2 C shortening
1/4 C sugar
2 T salt
1 1/2 C water
9 cups sifted flour
3 eggs
3 cakes compressed yeast (or powered equivalent)

Combine milk, shortening, sugar and salt and cool to lukewarm by adding 1 1/2 C water. Add yeast and mix well to dissolve. Blend in eggs. Add flour gradually. Mix till dough is well blended. Place in large, greased bowl. Chill if not ready to bake, or shape immediately into three loaves on well-floured board. Place in bread loaf pans, and cover.

Let rise till double (about 2 hours for chilled, 1 hour for unchilled dough).
Bake at 375 for one hour—but check as the hour advances for your oven may be quicker.

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News of the Weird

New York Newsday> reported in April that a 46-year-old Worcester, Mass., man inexplicably began speaking with a French accent immediately after he was involved in an automobile accident last year. Dr. Majis Moonis told the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology that about two dozen cases of “foreign accent syndrome” have been reported in this century, caused by a change in the brain circuit involved with motor control that affects the vocal cords.

—A high-speed train was halted for several hours en route from Paris to Toulouse, France, in February when the emergency-stop mechanism jammed. An unidentified man had yanked on it to stop the train because his wallet had fallen into a toilet, and when he reached in to get it, his hand got stuck.

— Ken Charles Barger, 47, accidentally shot himself to death in December in Newton, N.C., when, awakening to the sound of a ringing telephone beside his bed he reached for the phone but grabbed instead a Smith & Wesson .38 Special, which discharged when he drew it to his ear.

—In April, a San Francisco coroner’s office “senior investigator,” on the scene to investigate a downtown traffic fatality, got back into his van, put it in reverse, and accidentally drove over the dead man’s body, to the screams of bystanders. Apparently bewildered by the crowd, he then drove forward over the body.

—Jane Bryne, 42, was arrested in Clayton, Mo., in March and charged with possession of cocaine. She had been in the second row of a courtroom attending the robbery trial of her boyfriend when her purse fell out of her lap, sending the contents rolling underneath the seats of the first row. A police officer sitting in front of her gathered the lipstick and cosmetics to return them when he noticed one of the items was a vial of cocaine.

—According to a lawsuit filed by Jack Darcangelo of Littleton, Colo., exotic dancer Robin Nicholson, aka Autumn, tried one night in December to demonstrate her athletic prowess by leaping over him while he was standing near the stage, but failed to clear the hurdle, and according to Darcangelo, caused him a neck injury that forced him to miss two months’ work.

—In April, just after Steve Morrow scored the goal that gave the Arsenal team England’s League Cup Soccer championship, his teammates tossed him into the air in ritual celebration of their victory. However, they failed to catch him when he came down, and Morrow was carried off the field on a stretcher with an oxygen mask on his face. It was later determined that he had a broken arm.

—In Grants Pass, Ore., in early May, Michael Kennedy tried to shoot a beer can off Anthony Roberts’ head with a bow and arrow in what Roberts later described as an initiation rite for Mountain Men Anonymous. Kennedy missed, and the arrow went through Roberts’ right eye, penetrated eight inches of brain, and came within a millimeter of severing major blood vessels that would have caused instant death. Roberts never lost consciousness, was later fitted with a glass eye, and suffered no diminution of brain function from that which he had before the accident ocurred.

—New York state police recovered $5 million in suspected drug money from the home of Orlando Jaramillo, 44, in January after he was stopped by a police car going the wrong way on a one-way street. A satchel containing $300,000 was found in his car, and when he couldn’t give anywhere near a good explanation of why he had it, police obtained a search warrant and found $4.7 million more behind a false wall in his home.

—In October, as two University of Chicago students were walking down an alley near 57th St. and Kimbark Ave., they were hit on their heads by a flying dishwasher. The landlord in the building they were passing, not noticing the two students walking by, had pushed an old dishwasher off a second-story balcony onto a garbage pile.

—In September, in Irvington Township, N.J., Joseph Frajkor, 45, was trapped in his car for 20 minutes after a suicide victim leaped from an overpass on the Garden State Parkway and landed on the car, crushing it and preventing Frajkor from being able to free himself.

Jeffery Ham was convicted in New Orleans in April of shooting his girlfriend to death. One police officer testified that Ham told him he had shot her after watching a presidential debate on TV because “she chose the wrong side” and because she wanted to watch a sex tape right after the debate, which Ham allegedly said would be disrespectful.

A Reading, Pa., kidnapping victim was freed in Philadelphia in April after two suspects, who had attempted to get $200 from the victim’s daughter, told her to call back when she had the money and gave her their home telephone number. Police matched the phone number to an address, went to the house, arrested Claude Smith, and freed the victim. Smith’s partner fled.

In March, three weeks into the David Koresh standoff in Waco, TX, a SWAT team in Tucson, Ariz., drove Mark Allen Anderson, 35, from his armed, barricaded position in a metal house trailer by hurling so many bricks at the trailer that he soon gave up because of the noise.

—Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 8306, St. Petersburg, FL 33738.

—Chuck Shepherd’s three paperback collections, News of the Weird, More News of the Weird and Beyond News of the Weird, are available at most major bookstores.
© 1993 Universal Press Syndicate

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This year our class has been learning about the Chesapeake Bay. Last week 20 students, our science teacher and three parents went on a camping trip at Patuxent River. We went on a hay ride, did a stream survey, and went on a night hike.

One of the funnest things we did was to go canoeing. Rosa, my Mom and I were in one canoe. We were asked to pick an exotic plant. Rosa and I got out of the canoe thinking it was shallow. Oops! We ended up in mud up to our knees.

On the way back our leaders took us into a marsh. Soon our canoe got stuck. I got out to push the canoe. Instead I got stuck, too. Soon everyone was slipping and sliding.

I learned a lot about the wetlands and the Chesapeake Bay. The wetlands prevent erosion and flooding and are fun to be in.

Eve Sawyer, Age 11

Eve’s trip was sponsored by the Clagett Center of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Chesapeake Young Artists
More than a dozen youngsters “colored the Chesapeake” at < IT New Bay Times’> booth at South County Festival on May 22. Here’s who: Matthew and Tyler Broyles, Deale; Bryan Doeg, West River; Jessica Doren, DC; Crystalle Frazier, Rose Haven; Ashlee Graves, Deale; Morgan Kupfer, Annapolis; Danielle Langford, Edgewater; Nicole Langford, Deale; Andrea and Gregory Lentz, Churchton; Lizzy McErlean, Columbia; Justin Wood, Friendship.

All are on display at <IT New Bay Times.> Come see them!

Winners Crystalle Frazier, Danielle Langford, and Lizzy McErlean should pick up their prizes at < IT New Bay Times’ > office, 5861 Deale-Churchton Road, Deale (410)867-0304.

Special thanks to Jonathan Harberts, Cape St. Claire, whose illustration for our premier issue cover was colored.

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