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fun with ropes

the schooner's bowOn Friday I went with newlyweds elwing2000 and Brian for a day sail across the Chesapeake Bay aboard the Schooner Sultana [my pictures]. We left Chestertown around eight in the morning and motored down the Chester River, whose banks remain relatively undeveloped. There were seven crewmembers and six of us passengers, if I remember correctly. Except for the sound of our motor (without which it would've taken days to get down the river), it was quiet, with the captain handing us the binoculars every few minutes to get a good look at an eagle or other bird. elwing2000 took a turn at the tiller during this part of the trip, keeping us between the red and green navigational light structures along the river. Once we reached the bay, the crew unfurled the sails. The weather was nearly perfect. We leisurely ate our lunches amidships, got a tour belowdecks, peered at nautical charts modern and antique, tried our hands at using a quadrant to determine our latitude, learned how "knots" were used to measure the ship's speed, heard about oyster farming in the Chesapeake, read a copy of the original ship's log, witnessed the firing of one of the swivel guns, and helped furl the foresail as we approached our destination, Annapolis. Once we crossed under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, the Friday afternoon leisure boat traffic became noticeable, as smaller craft would approach us to take pictures. I took my turn at the helm around then, under the crew's guidance about where to aim. There weren't a lot of fine adjustments made in either direction or sail trim so far as I noticed, but then my prior sailing experience has been mostly in smaller boats on small bodies of water under rather more variable wind conditions. Upon reaching City Dock at Annapolis—the first place I saw the Sultana when I paddled by it last year—we said goodbye to our gracious crew and disembarked. We stopped by Capital Teas (cardamom tea for me!), dined at Middleton Tavern, and indulged ourselves at two different fudge shops before gathering our cars—a nontrivial task with one of them on the other side of the Chesapeake bay—and heading home.

me climbing "Highway" at Boy Scout LedgesThere was no sleeping in for me the next morning, though, as I joined co-worker (and veteran climber) Mark and several other people for some beginners' rock-climbing at Sugarloaf Mountain. I'm so out of shape that just ascending the mountain to the climbing area was a trial. We started out at Boy Scout Ledges, where Mark set up his rope for two people to climb (each with a belayer) simultaneously, one on "Highway" and one on "Bypass". I climbed "Highway", which is a bit easier, and really enjoyed it. Several participants had climbing shoes, which remind me of Vivo Barefoots, the minimalist shoes I've been considering buying as a next-best alternative to barefootedness. It was a shame that so much broken glass littered the trails in this area; I think it would've been interesting, if not actually easier than in my generic athletic shoes, to try climbing barefooted.

After a couple of hours, we ceded Boy Scout Ledges to some actual Boy Scouts and moved on to Middle Earth, which was much more daunting to my beginner's eyes. There were a number of climbers already there, but by the time we'd eaten lunch we had a spot. It went more slowly here, between the single rope, greater height, and tougher climb. It looked frustrating enough that I didn't attempt it. The others did, but they were getting tired, and I was giving myself a sore neck from looking up so much. So I pretty much just chilled out. It's a beautiful area, and I wished I'd brought a book. As it was, I'm glad I brought my camera; here are my photos from this climbing outing.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 5th, 2008 03:09 pm (UTC)
Sounds and looks like an awesome, active weekend.
May. 6th, 2008 02:34 am (UTC)
How scary is climbing? I guess this is a totally relative questions. I get freaked out when my feet are off the ground. I might seem really adventurous, however I really have a pansy resolve.
May. 6th, 2008 03:00 am (UTC)
Your feet are still on the ground when you're climbing, it's just differently-shaped ground. :P For the most part you're looking at the wall you're climbing and figuring out where the next good hand- or foothold is, so your mind isn't necessarily thinking about how high you are. There isn't much reason to be looking down, in my admittedly very limited experience.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )