A Cult Following
Before we left Michigan in 2005 to begin our first Great Loop, we joined America’s Great Loop Cruising Association (AGLCA) and our close friends Mike and Lynn Borer quickly started referring to our new affiliation as that “cult” we’d joined. Well, as we headed north up the Intracoastal Waterway last spring we made a decision to become members of another faction of the boating community, the Marine Trawler Owner’s Association (MTOA).
|The turtle image shows up everywhere during an MTOA organized event.|
|New friends and old include, from left, Brantly and Brenda, Frank Irwin, current President of MTOA, and of course our good friend Louis.|
When we visited our friends Louis and Diane Wade, at their beautiful beach house in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, over the past Labor Day weekend, we made plans to next meet at the national “The Old Bay” Northern Rendezvous in Crisfield, Maryland. The Wades are also new members and we were all looking forward to a fun time in Crisfield learning about MTOA. In the months after we joined we received many emails welcoming us to the organization along with information about the upcoming rendezvous. After we signed up for the rendezvous we were notified about many of the activities such as the volunteer opportunities available during the rendezvous that we could sign up for ahead of time. We were emailed a tentative schedule of events and information on what to bring to the first night’s potluck dinner. Before we left for Crisfield we were given, not only our boat assignment for the duration of the get together, but the names and email address of our chosen “mentors” George and Hilarie Bliss, who in turn emailed us to offer their assistance and guidance the minute we arrived in Crisfield.
When Saturday September 12th came around, we were itching to head out across the Chesapeake Bay towards the Eastern Shore of Maryland not only for a planned reunion with our friends the Wades, who were coming by car, but to visit new boating territory for us. The Bay was fairly calm when we left our dock in Solomons but as we approached the Potomac River, we experienced bigger wave action and until the river was behind us, we rocked and rolled a lot. Our first night was spent peacefully on the hook at Smith Point, on the south side of the Potomac River, up into the Little Wicomico River. The next morning our one-night stop at Tangier Island was only a short hop away. Monday morning we made the last leg of the trip to Crisfield, we arrived mid-day and were greeted at the dock by two volunteer MTOA dockhands and welcoming committee. I have to tell you that our first impression of this organization was very favorable as we were promptly and professionally tied up and had all our immediate questions answered before we even set foot on ground.
|We first met Lee and Carol while out dinghying around Back Creek in the Solomons. We shared many dinners with them during the rendezvous and had a private tour of their beautiful Marine Trader trawler Carol Anne.|
The MTOA membership runs this organization, so volunteerism is an important element of this group. To promote this activity the organization has an interesting pin system to reward participation. It is amazing how people will work their butts off to obtain one of those pins and more importantly because they enjoy helping out. Jim and I had signed up earlier, by email, to volunteer at this event, Jim with the Facilities Committee and I with the Social Committee. Jim’s job was to help George Kay, the committee chair, to move chairs and tables, empty garbage, and just about anything else that needed to be moved or rearranged. I was assigned a night to help set up and host the beverage booth. I was happy to work with Pat Daniels on the last night pouring wine and meeting many people I had not yet had the chance to talk to. After dinner on Thursday night, all the volunteers received a green turtle pin in recognition of their service. Committee Chair people got a different colored pin in recognition of the added responsibilities of their jobs. These acquired pins are proudly worn on members’ name plackets and we could see how some members volunteered a lot with the many pins they had displayed on the plackets that they wear around their necks. It’s a helpful group of folks.
|Hurricane Hazel gave an amazing demonstration first on how we could pick a crab followed by how fast she could pick a crab when she is working.|
I really tried to sit still during a Basic Engine Room course I attended with Jim but as there was a sale going on in the Ship’s Store, just on the other side of the tent, I was a little distracted to focus completely. I had envisioned the course to be more of an introduction to engines, which in my mind meant showing a basic diesel engine and explaining its fixable parts and what basic maintenance/emergency issues might be encountered, why and what to do and so on. Instead, it was more about the inner workings of the engine with big diagrams, which Jim understood and found helpful. However, I did find some good sale items in the Ship’s Store as they were trying to liquidate their inventory, a stimulus sale of sorts.
|The members who volunteered to help with the Crab Race had to wear thick gloves because the crabs just did not want to cooperate and wanted to hang on for dear life.|
|There were at least four different flavors of this famous Smith Island layer cake served Tuesday night. It is very similar to an English torte and yes, it was as yummy as it looks.|
I attended Cooking Your Chesapeake Catch event with my friends Diane and Brenda given by Christie Chumley, an experienced fisherwoman and professional chef. Christie started her presentation with many samples of her cooking talent. We left this presentation with tips for fishing and recipes on cooking your catch. Christie also provided us with a batch of Arabian sourdough starter, which she gave to us back at her boat Mosey, where we also got a tour of their unusual boat. Later that day I attended a crab-picking demonstration with Hazel Cropper, aka Hurricane Hazel, who is not only a person of excellent character, but also the current reigning Crab Picking Champion of the World, having just won the annual Crisfield Labor Day crab-picking contest again this year. Hazel picks just over six pounds of clean crabmeat in fifteen minutes. She gave both the slow-mo and the high-speed versions of her craft at this demonstration.
|Old Bay was as sponsor for the MTOA crab evening. We were all treated to samples of many of the Old Bay products as we practiced our crab picking skills on trays full of freshly cooked crab.|
|There was a bounty of food this evening and it was very painstaking, messy, business picking crab but it was well worth the effort and once again we left the table stuffed.|