Friday, September 18, 2015

City Tells

(tells— mannerisms that give clues to your opponents' cards.)

Kintala has been resting easy to her anchor in Back Creek, Annapolis since last weekend. The rush for the boat show has yet to go into full swing, but it is moderately crowded in here. On the second day, after we had moved to make a little more room between us and some piers, one of the Harbor Masters came by. He suggested that we were too close to another boat but, if we were only going to be here for another day or so, we shouldn't worry about it. A few hours later we took advantage of a good spot that opened up a few hundred yards down the river.

Back Creek Annapolis near sunset.

The next day a different Harbor Master came by. I spotted him off our stern writing down our ship's name and asked if he needed anything. We ended up chatting for a couple of minutes. He suggested, if we were going to be around for a few days, that we register with the office. There is no limit as to how long we can stay, and no requirement that we do register. But, if one does, they write down a phone number. That way, should they spot a problem with the boat during one of their several-times-a-day passes through the anchorage, they have a number to call. Some might call it Big Brother.  To me it feels more like the sailing clan looking out for one another.

The form we filled out did ask when and where our last pump-out occurred, which seems like a reasonable question. I don't want to live in shitty water any more than those who live on land want to live next to shitty water. To make it easy on everyone the Harbor Master runs a pump-out boat on call, every day, at $5 a visit. They come by Back Creek in the afternoons after lunch. It is safe to assume that $5 a visit doesn't cover all the costs of the running the pump-out service. It must be subsidized, just like water treatment plants on land are subsidized. Some might call it socialism.  To me it feels like a fair way to address a common desire for clean water.

There is an ordinance in this town that has to do with dinghy docks and access. More Big Brother? This ordinance requires, (requires!) that any street which dead ends at the water have a dinghy dock. The one at the end of Sixth Street, just a few hundred feet from Kintala, has two solid ladders, several big and secure cleats, and a trash can. Providing dinghy access is the law of this land. As a result the town is full of cruisers walking around, spending money, and soaking up an obvious welcome.

There is a set-back rule here, 75 feet. Our experience is that they enforce it on a “need to” basis, the “need” being to ensure there is enough room for boats to move around. So long as no one is blocked in, a boat length here or there never seems to raise an eyebrow. It is suggested that everyone lay to a single anchor so all the boats swing, more or less, together. In this crowded and busy harbor everything seems to get done, boats go where they need to go, and all with very little drama. The set-back rule is being used to every one's advantage, with no intent to disadvantage the minority. Make no mistake, as busy as this place is, the cruising community is still a minority. Around Annapolis that makes us another part of the community that needs services rather than making us a target.

Photo courtesy of Google Earth

Deb and I stopped into the Harbor Master's office on our last walk-about. Friendly, courteous, and helpful, they did share that there is a problem with derelict boats in a place called Weems Creek. The city line lies in the middle of that bit of water and (I think I have this correct) the far side is referred to as the Wild West Weems. Yet the story was told with a hint of a smile. Problem? Sure. Huge problem that can only be fixed by driving all cruisers away? Not even close.

We never got to know Annapolis as well as we should have, coming here for the Boat Show. That show is big, gaudy, and pitched to the well-heeled. During its run it overshadows the town, masking the subtle, the routine, the tells. Being a gypsy sailor in this town when the show isn't around gives one a chance to get a truer feel of Annapolis.

It is a place to make a cruiser smile, and feel at home.

A typical welcoming front porch on the streets of Annapolis


Mike Boyd said...

Thanks for the post. Makes me want to come see Annapolis outside of "the show". So far, we have only been there during the show and by land. Good to hear that they understand the cruising community.

Looking forward to seeing you again.


ELLIDA said...

Makes me wish I was there - hope you guys get to visit Chick and Ruth's for breakfast and the morning Pledge of Allegiance. See you one of these days. :)