Recollections - Part 2 - "We're Going to Need a Bigger Boat!"
I soon realized that if I wanted to start a charter business in Annapolis, I would need a bigger boat. The “need” for a bigger boat is a debilitating illness affecting millions of mariners every year. It usually starts with a mild feeling of inadequacy and sensitivity about one’s boat size. It is quite contagious and is transmitted mainly in marinas and boat shows, especially in cities like Annapolis. The first symptoms may occur as soon as the unsuspecting captain sees his boat docked next to a larger boat. As the disease progresses, it becomes impossible for the sufferer to even glance at his vessel without taking mental assessments of mast height, bowsprit length, cabin space and every other linear and spatial dimension. The misery can eat the injured party alive, and it becomes only a matter of time before he acts to ease his pain. He will most always buy a bigger boat, and thus, buy a little time before his bigger boat is assigned to a bigger slip, usually next to an even bigger boat, starting the cycle once again.
One day that fall I noticed an advertisement in the Philadelphia Inquirer for a 29-foot flush deck sloop, located in Rock Hall. The ad stated, “Owner must sell immediately - any offer accepted”. The very next day, we drove to Rock Hall to survey the boat on the hard at Gratitude Marina.
The drive from the Philadelphia area to Rock Hall is a calming experience, usually taking less than two hours. After breaking loose from the snarls of I-95 past Wilmington, you will soon cross over the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, arriving onto the Delmarva Peninsula. From that point, there exist only two other possibilities to reach the western shore megalopolis by automobile, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge tunnel to Norfolk, Virginia. Soon after reaching State Highway 301 heading south, you will turn right, into the direction of the Chesapeake Bay. The more scenic route meanders through thousands of acres of pristine farmland close to the Bay, through the small town of Galena on the Sassafras River. From there, Rt. 213, the scenic byway through Chesapeake Country will lead to historic Chestertown where Rt. 20 proceeds west twelve miles, until it suddenly ends in Rock Hall. It is surprising how few people in the Philadelphia area realize how close they live to some place so far away.
We arrived at the end of Rt. 20 where a 29-foot sailboat named Blitz was propped in the weeds at Gratitude Marina awaiting our inspection. The boat appeared rather unexceptional at first, with a pale blue top stripe and a somewhat oxidized white hull. However, I immediately discerned the sleek, unobstructed flush deck and the heavy, stable bulb at the bottom of the fin keel. The interior was comprised of striking, dark teak wood, quite spacious and comfortable looking. We agreed that with a little work, she would make the ideal boat. After some smart negotiating, it became an easy decision. The next weekend, my father and I drove back to Rock Hall where we scraped the name Blitz from the transom and replaced it with Blue Crab. (To be continued) ...