July 5 - July 28, 2007
After meeting new cruising friends, we left Annapolis, Maryland on July 8 bound for Baltimore.  Since we had no schedule or appointments before July 30th our voyage was leisurely marked by an ever increasingly slower pace.  When leaving Annapolis we passed under the bridge pictured above.  The chart was marked with 75’ of clearance from mean high tide, but we couldn’t help holding our breath as we sailed under the bridge. It LOOKED like our mast of 65’ was going to crash into the massive steel structure.  Our fears were unfounded and we passed the Naval Academy glimmering in all of its glory by the morning light.  What a beautiful and patriotic moment.

The Sunday “sailing” was unremarkable because there was no wind.  We motored the short distance to Dobbins Island.  We were warned there were large crowds of boaters on the weekend and that was an understatement.  We passed the afternoon reading and rocking from all of the boat wakes caused by water skiers and jet skiers.  By 7 pm almost everyone had headed home and we enjoyed a spectacular sunset in seclusion. 

On Monday morning there was still no wind so we did chores and waited for afternoon winds.  At 1 pm the winds had picked up to 10-13 knots and we had a great downwind sail to Rock Creek. We took the opportunity to pole out the jib and run wing-on-wing.  It worked great!!
Tuesday found us arriving in Baltimore.  The Patapsco River extends all the way to the heart of downtown Baltimore where we dropped anchor (view in picture).  There were lots of boats in the marinas but we were the only one to be at anchor, not sure why? After spending so much
time in remote areas it was surreal to be in a major American downtown, in our boat!  The sounds of birds chirping in mornings were replaced with siren screams.  Oh well, it was nostalgic; the noise reminded us of when we lived on Main Street, downtown Dallas.
Baltimore is known to be one of the roughest, toughest cities in America but we found her delightful.  The houses surrounding downtown all had the styling of this part of the country and it was enchanting.  While in Baltimore we took in a baseball game, Orioles vs. White Sox, and it was a very boring game of a very boring sport.  Oh well, win some/lose some!  No Texas turkey legs could be found at the ballpark but everyone was lining up to buy crab cakes.  Chesapeake folks do love their crabs!
Pictured here is El Regalo at anchor in Baltimore Inner Harbor. As mentioned, we were the only boat at anchor, when picking up our anchor huge air bubbles started coming up churning the surface of the river.  I began to hum the theme song of the Beverly Hillbillies since it appeared us Texans had struck oil.  We really do not know what caused these giant bubbles but my theory is methane gas released when our anchor and chain penetrated the putrid harbor floor. 
It was time to get out of the big city and back into the country so we continued north to the Sassafras and Wye River and later to the village of St. Michaels.  Praise the Lord for such a bucolic paradise!  The pastures, trees, birds were all taken from a beautiful picture or a travel guide.  At least in the summer, this is one of the most beautiful locations in the world (and we can testify since we have been to most of the world).  The village of St. Michaels is one of America’s best kept secrets since it is a difficult to get to Maryland’s Eastern Shore without a boat.

After the past delightful week of wandering throughout Maryland’s shore we came to the conclusion that we share the same view as some of the most expensive and lavish mansions of America.  We drop our anchor and invite ourselves into the neighborhoods of the rich and famous of Maryland/Washington DC and Virginia.  We count our blessings everyday and give thanks for the blessing of spending time aboard El Regalo.
We do enjoy some funny and curious moments aboard El Regalo. 

A few days after the mysterious bubbles, one of our heads (toilets) ceased to function properly.  The way marine toilets work is that you manually pump sea water into the bowl to flush.  For some unknown reason, our head would not bring water into the system.  After two days of wishing the problem would disappear, JoDon, El Regalo’s “head” mechanic, decide to tear into the system to solve the pumping problem.  After about 20 minutes I heard JoDon cry a loud shriek.  I rushed over to find out what had happened and found JoDon now laughing at the small dead snake inside our plumbing.  The reason our head was no longer pumping was because this snake had been sucked into our sea water intake.  Apparently once inside it could not get out and it died inside our plumbing.  Wow!  What a surprise!  From now on we might consider turning on a light when using the head in the middle of the night!

We have made some observations about public transportation throughout the world since we have not owned a car for over two years.  Riding a bus in China is the same as riding a bus in Annapolis with a few exceptions.  The bus riders in Maryland are generally taller and darker than Chinese bus riders.  In Hong Kong, the same amount of bus riders do not speak English as Maryland bus riders, about 1/4.  In China, bus riders enjoy more freedoms on board their buses; they can eat, drink and smoke as they please. Also, dead pigs and live chickens are always welcomed for storage in the under carriages.  I suppose that when you add up all of the pluses and minuses of systems around the world, they have more similarities than most people think.

Next week we fly back to Texas and Oklahoma for three weeks while some modifications are completed to El Regalo. 

Until the next journal entry,
Brian and JoDon
Wednesday night races in Annapolis.
Journal 3; Annapolis to Baltimore and North