Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Boat Ramp Follies
Our house sits just above the Deep Creek boat ramp. We have a partial view of what goes on down there. When we were initially looking at the house, the guy who was selling it had written out a list of "house likes" - things that he enjoyed about the house. One of them was what he called "Boat Ramp Follies". We weren't entirely sure what he meant until the first summer holiday weekend after we moved in. A lot of funny stuff goes on at the boat ramp - from people falling into the water to boats falling off of trailers. I know much of this is not funny at all when it's happening to you, but hopefully it makes for a funny story down the road.
I would not feel entitled to chuckle if I hadn't been there myself and put in my time at the boat ramp. When we first moved to the Cape, my husband and I were desperate to get on the water by whatever means possible. Access to the water was the main reason we chose Cape St. Claire, but we didn't have a boat of any kind (a small 1960s Montgomery Ward outboard motor that my husband would lovingly run in a large garbage can full of water to tune it up, but no boat). We would crab off of the Lake Claire pier and swim at the Main Beach, but we were desperate to get out on the water.
Our first attempts were small inflatable dinghies. We would paddle off of the Lake Claire beach with a plastic tub between us to hold the crabs and a cooler of beer and throw chicken necks over the edge. It was a very tight fit, and if a crab ever got loose or we missed the bucket, it became a fiasco. It was NOT ideal. We recently saw a young couple out doing something very similar, and we smiled knowingly.
After living in the Cape for two years, we bought a 21 foot used Crownline from a guy over on the Eastern Shore. We were beside ourselves. We had no idea what we were doing, but we finally had access to that whole other world of Chesapeake Bay life that happens out on the water. We didn't care that our boat was kind of an ugly red and that it was a million degrees in the heat of July. We were boating on the Chesapeake. How much better does it get than that?
We fished out by Baltimore Light and overnighted behind Dobbins. We navigated Kent Narrows to get to Red Eye's on weekends and made our way up through Eastern Bay and down the Miles River to St. Michael's to reach the Crab Claw. We even tied up in Fell's Point for the night (always risked waking up with a stranger sleeping in the cockpit in Baltimore). And most importantly, my husband earned his Annapolis boating "wings" by negotiating the fraught waters of Ego Alley.
All of these adventures started and ended at the boat ramp (and sometimes the ramp was part of the adventure). We're VERY lucky to have this ramp in the Cape. There are not a lot of public access points to the Bay, which would become abundantly clear if the piers committee didn't do such a good job of monitoring the parking lot for stickers. I can remember when we were first using it, and it wasn't being watched as closely, there were times when we couldn't find a place to park our trailer.
The bulkhead and pavement have recently been replaced down at Deep Creek, and it's in better shape than ever. Even if you haven't found a way to get out on the water, a stroll down to the boat ramp and marina is a great pastime. You can always find someone to chat with about the comings and goings. There are a few "regulars" down there who keep it from floating away. As soon as you're able, get yourself a boat and come be a part of the Boat Ramp Follies. Notice I said boat and not car... (hope nobody was hurt).