Sardine City -
October 3, 2002
"Little Gidding" at a premium parking spot in Back Creek, Annapolis
The US Sailboat Show held every October in Annapolis is the world's oldest and largest in-water boat show. This year it's scheduled for October 10th to 14th. Anybody who's someboby in the sailing world will be there, especially if they have something they want us and other boaters to buy. By a happy coincidence of timing, the show just happens to occur at that time of the year when cruisers from the eastern seaboard are migrating south through the Chesapeake towards warmer climes. Annapolis already has one of the highest rates of boat ownership in the country and with the influx of transient boaters at boat show time, the local waters become positively choked.
We visited Annapolis back in the summer when Eileen was lining up some fall gigs and David was researching drinking establishments (see our July 4th log entry). At that time, we anchored in the upper reaches of Spa Creek, the waterway running through the middle of town. It was tranquil and quiet up there. People told us, "Just wait until the boat show. You won't be able to see the water for all the boats that'll be anchored here." The local chapter of Women Aboard had asked Eileen to perform for them at the Eastport Yacht Club a week before the opening of the boat show. When Eileen raised the question of where to anchor, Marilyn Henderson, one of the key organizers, said, "No problem. I'll arrange with my neighbourhood association for you to tie up at the transient slip at one of our docks in Back Creek."
A couple of days ago, we returned to Annapolis with a detailed set of instructions on how to find Marilyn's dock. Back Creek is next to Spa Creek and follows the south-eastern boundary of Annapolis. With the boat show more than a week away, Back Creek was anything but tranquil and quiet. In some ways it was like a homecoming. We threaded our way among a lot of familiar boats as we nosed up the creek. "Hey, there's "Cayenne III", still looking pretty sharp since we saw her in Trinidad last year. And "Sandpiper", didn't we meet them in the Bahamas? Oh, I don't believe it, there's "Jane G"! I wonder where they've been since we saw them in St. Maarten two years ago?"
There were too many boats to see the channel markers. "Don't worry," David said. "We'll just stay inside of the boats that look like they draw at least as much as we do. I'm more concerned that we won't be able to see Marilyn's dock." Eileen answered, "That should be easy. It'll be the only one with a vacant space."
Sure enough, as we neared the head of the creek, we spotted an empty slip with a big blue ribbon tied around one of the pilings. Marilyn was walking down the dock to greet us. David looked at the space available. It was about 25 feet long. "Little Gidding", with her bow sprit, is 41 feet long. "This is going to require some creative docking techniques," he muttered.
With Marilyn's help and the use of all of our dock lines and fenders, we finished up perched on the end of the dock with our bow sprit riding above the wheel house of a wood fishing boat and our transom-mounted wind vane steering mechanism almost grazing the cockpit of the little fibreglass sloop behind us. "I hope neither of these guys want to leave for the next two weeks," Eileen worried. "Beginning tonight, I've got shows scheduled right up to the 15th."
David looked down the creek. "I don't think WE will be the issue. After a few more boats anchor back there, NOBODY is going to be moving out of here."
(PS - click here for Eileen's Annapolis performance schedule)