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Stories of Boat Related Mishaps and Experiences | Soundings Online Column

Building Pintail: A tale of the (drake) tail

baywatch_leadIt’s 5 o’clock one cool, misty September morning on Crab Alley Creek. The fog is so thick we have to feel our way upstream in our weather-beaten skiff, using the sound from the cantankerous outboard bouncing off the shoreline.

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The Hooper Island draketail

The first true powerboat on the Chesapeake Bay.

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Oysters are to the Bay as grapes are to Napa

bottom_bayHigh above Mile Zero of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (well, not that high), I find myself switching the thermostat to cool as the sun pushes the interior temperature toward 80 on this 60-degree day. Though warmer than normal, today is the cool break in a stretch of way-above-normal temperatures, with mid-70s forecast for the coming week. Periodically, I hear an optimistic boat owner fire up a slumbering engine for a harbor cruise, and the liveaboards are asking when the summer water is coming back on.

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The Chesapeake is their oyster

baywatch_oystersOyster farming on Chesapeake Bay is on the rise thanks to the opening of new oyster grounds and the streamlining of regulations. Once home to the most prolific oyster grounds on the planet, the Chesapeake’s oyster harvest today is just 1 percent of its historic highs, the victim of a century’s worth of overfishing, pollution, habitat destruction and disease. But despite the doom and gloom picture that number seems to paint, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic.

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Winter blues — as in crabs, catfish and boat sales

bottom_bayThe end of 2016 was nice at the bottom of the Bay, with a couple of cruising rallies to the islands getting off on time on a good weather window. It’s fun to walk the docks and see the variety of boats preparing for the 1,500-mile voyage. Every year a part of me wants to do it again, and I may yet.

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