High 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.
Oyster 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.
The 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.
The first few times I worked with photographer Jay Fleming, I began to toy around with the possibility that he might be a vampire. “Meet me at my place at 4 a.m.,” his text read after I asked him to tag along for a story I was writing about a World War II ship graveyard off the Potomac River.
The cover date of the Soundings issue you’re reading is January 2017. As I write this, I wonder where 2016 went, a question that pops up frequently as I age. To figure that out, let’s revisit a few Bay topics from the past 12 months and make a Bottom of the Bay “Hopes and Dreams List” for 2017.
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