As I write this, the top of the Ditch is pretty quiet, with only the occasional yacht transiting. As you read this, however, the snowbirds will be gathering.
During World War II, the Army Transportation Corps needed a vessel that could serve a multitude of purposes on every body of water, in every theater of the war. Some were borrowed, some were bought, and some were created. One of the latter was the T-boat, a vessel that served in several capacities, including as a tugboat and lighter. It was designed by the legendary Eldredge-McInnis Co. of Boston and laid down with a 64-foot, 10-inch LOA, a 16-foot, 6-inch beam and a 6-foot draft.
We are in that hot and still, late-summer mode here at the bottom of the Bay, waiting for the weather to break into the fall pattern. Our big event, Norfolk HarborFest, has come and gone as I write this.
The launch Vedette is bouncing across the water at 17 knots, en route to the container ship LOA, when the driver advises the pilot, who is soon to guide the 878-foot freighter out of Baltimore harbor: “Gusts this afternoon of 40 knots, Cap.”
The northbound migration is in full swing at Mile Zero as I write this, the light-colored boats sporting brown mustaches from the tannin-rich waters of the blackwater rivers and swamps to the south.
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Jack has been cruising Chesapeake Bay and writing about the region for more than 25 years. His critically acclaimed book, "Maryland's Vanishing Lives," was published by Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University Press and is now in its second printing. Before joining Soundings, Jack was a feature writer at the Washington (D.C.) Star for nearly 20 years and a senior editor at Chesapeake Bay magazine from 1995 to 1998. His monthly Bay Tripper column focuses on the Chesapeake.