We left Rock Hall early in the morning, as I was eager to head to Baltimore to photograph a few women who agreed to participate in my current project. We also wanted to get going early as there were storms predicted for that evening which we hoped to avoid and my friend Vicki, was arriving by bus that day to spend the night aboard Bear.
Coming out of Rock Hall, we had to retrace the same steps we made yesterday, which meant heading South down the channel to avoid a large field of crab traps, and then turning North toward our destination.
As we came up the Patapsco River, I received a text from Vicki that said she had arrived at the bus station. We were still a couple of hours away at that point, so we decided that we would rendezvous at the National Aquarium later in the afternoon.
The exact location of S/V Bear when Vicki texted and said she had arrived
On our approach to the Francis Scott Key bridge, we passed a rookery with hundreds of cormorants watching our transit just before we gave way to the super freighter Michigan Highway making its way South.
Just as we slipped under the bridge, a small cutter vessel appeared to be coming toward Bear. We both became a bit frazzled, assuming that we were about to be boarded by the Coast Guard. Luckily, the vessel stopped just off our port side and we realize that is was the Army Corp of Engineers, not the CG, surveying the channel. Though we have nothing to hide, and the CG has the right to do random safety checks, we did not have time to spare, as Vicki waited patiently for us ashore.
Large container ships and other commercial vessels lined the docks, dwarfing the dump trucks that carried away their cargo. Through my telephoto lens, these vehicles looked like Tonka Trucks rather than heavy duty machinery.
To our left was Fort McHenry, high atop a grassy hill. Key wrote the Star-Spangled Banner while held as prisoner aboard a British ship during the Battle of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812. He was inspired by the bombardment, hence rockets red glare and bombs bursting in air. Despite that, in the morning, the star spangled banner still waved above the fort.
I should mention two distinct smells that permeated the air in the Patapsco. The first was a noxious smell emanating from the sewage treatment plant on the South side of the river near the bridge. The second, and much more pleasant, was the molasses-like odor seeping from the Dominos Sugar processing plant. As the only working factory on the river, ships filled to the brim with sugar cane arrive regularly, which is then processed into the delicious granules for our favorite confections. We saw the precious cargo being unloaded from this ship below.
As we meandered up the river, we checked the potential anchorages, in search of a spot that would be protected from the copious amounts of wake and floating debris. We lucked out when our top choice of anchorages was empty, putting us right in the center of the Inner Harbor. As we set the hook between the USS Constellation and the National Aquarium we noticed that a few groups of tourists were taking pictures of Bear. Perhaps they thought we were a pirate ship or a part of the USS Constellation museum. Either way, it didn’t hurt our self-esteem one bit.
Just off our stern was the rental dock for the foot-peddled dragon boats. Our time in Baltimore was spent surrounded by purple and green monsters, who often brought curious families over to Bear to ask us questions about the boat.
Once we were content that the anchor had set, we took the dingy over to meet Vicki, who at this point, had spotted Bear, and was waving to us from shore near the Aquarium. Despite being hot and sweaty, we all exchanged hugs and pleasantries, and brought Vicki out to the boat to drop off her bags and freshen up a bit. Then we went ashore in search of libations and sustenance.
We picked a spot to eat based on who had the best happy hour specials within ear shot of where we had illegally tied up the dingy. With drinks in hand, we watched Brazil get humiliated as we scarfed down crab dip and caprese salad.
Around 5 o’clock, I packed up my camera gear and had Jeff and Vicki dingy me over to Harborview Marina, where I had plans to photograph two liveaboards. As they ferried me across the river, the sky grew ominously dark, and big grey clouds quickly rolled over the skyline. I knew that I had very little time to shoot on the dock, so as we pulled up, and I became assured that the women I was meeting were not actually men who had trolled me on FB, I bid a quick farewell to Jeff and Vicki who were going to explore the Domino factory.
The shoot went well, though I am sad to say that I was not able to coax the woman who was living aboard with her pet monkey, to be part of the series.