OYSTER WARS

Post #54:  OYSTER WARS;  Day 387;  May 23, 2015.  On board:  Tom McNichol;  Hank (my Dad);  Jim K

Chesapeake Bay is an enormous body of water, stretching 200 miles north from its mouth at the Atlantic Ocean to the Susquehanna River and measuring 30 miles at its widest point. One hundred fifty major rivers and streams empty into the Bay, and its shoreline is nearly 12.000 miles long. It is relatively shallow, however, with an average depth of just 21 feet. It was first explored in detail in 1607 and again in 1609 by Captain John Smith of Jamestown fame.

Two critical battles occurred on the Chesapeake. The “Battle of the Capes”, described in a previous blog update, occurred in 1781 and resulted in America’s French allies controlling the mouth of the Chesapeake, setting the stage for General Cornwallis’s surrender at Yorktown, effectively ending the American Revolution. The second was the failed bombardment by the British fleet of Fort McHenry at Baltimore, inspiring Francis Scott Key to write The Star Spangled Banner.

Less well known are the “Oyster Wars” that continued on the Chesapeake for nearly 100 years. The Oyster Wars started in 1865 when Maryland passed a law requiring annual permits for oyster harvesting within its territorial waters. Permits were restricted to only Maryland residents. By the 1880’s, the Chesapeake supplied almost half the world’s supply of oysters. Ignoring the permit requirements, New England fishermen started harvesting oysters in the Bay when their local oyster beds became depleted. In response, Maryland formed the Maryland Oyster Navy, the predecessor to today’s Maryland Natural Resources Police. However, it was inadequate to compete with the more heavily armed watermen. Virginia made its own attempts to control oyster harvesting, including license fees, seasonal limits, and a ban on dredging, Its enforcement efforts were also inadequate, and illegal harvesting continued. However, the Governor of Virginia, William Cameron, needed publicity to boost his popularity, so he left his office in the state house to personally lead an expedition against illegal dredgers. In February of 1882, his fleet of two boats, a freighter and a tugboat, engaged the illegal dredgers at the mouth of the Rappahannock River, resulting in the successful conviction of 41 dredgers and the seizure of 7 boats. The Governor’s popularity soared. However, a year later his popularity diminished, so he decided to undertake a second expedition. This one failed, as captured dredgers were acquitted in court and the Governor was blamed. Further, the opposition press mocked him for failing to capture the “Dancing Molly”, a sloop run by three women who managed to outrun the Governor’s fleet (I’m not making this up). The embarrassment increased when the Norfolk Academy of Music lampooned the Governor in a comic opera entitled “Driven From the Seas;  or The Pirate Dredger’s Doom”. The Governor’s popularity never recovered.  The Oyster Wars continued until, in 1959, an officer of the Potomac Rivers Fishery Commission killed a Virginia waterman who was illegally dredging. The Commissioner ordered that the fisheries police be disarmed, and the violence finally ended.

Our next stop on the Chesapeake was Annapolis, Maryland. Founded in 1649, Annapolis grew rapidly in the 18th century as a port of entry and a major center for the Atlantic slave trade. However, it declined rapidly when Baltimore, with its deeper harbor, became a port of entry in 1780. Annapolis became the temporary capital of the United States in 1783 for about a year upon the signing of the Treaty of Paris granting independence from Britain. In 1845, the United States Naval Academy was established in Annapolis. The entire campus is now a National Historic Landmark, and its presence is omnipresent in the city.

Today, Annapolis is a thriving tourist and college town. There are over 100 restaurants in the city, and Main Street is a collage of boutiques, pubs, and specialty shops. There is a very active night life, fueled in part by the Academy.

We docked at the Annapolis City Docks, located in the heart of downtown Annapolis. Here are some images from our two-day visit:

The United States Naval Academy, as seen from the harbor on the way in.

The United States Naval Academy, as seen from the harbor on the way in.

The chapel at the Naval Academy

The chapel at the Naval Academy

The presence of the Naval Academy pervades Annapolis.  Cadets in the first two years are required to wear their dress uniform whenever they are out and about.

The presence of the Naval Academy pervades Annapolis. Cadets in the first two years are required to wear their dress uniform whenever they are out and about.

Main Street in Annapolis as seen from the bridge of the Joint Adventure docked in the Inner Harbor

Main Street in Annapolis as seen from the bridge of the Joint Adventure docked in the Inner Harbor

Strolling Main Street in the evening

Strolling Main Street in the evening

This statue is located at the waterfront of Annapolis Harbor - the plaque reads: "To commemorate the arrival in this harbor of Kunta Kinte, immortalized by Alex Haley in ROOTS and all others who came to these shores in bondage and who by their toil, character, and ceaseless struggle for freedom have helped to make these United States."

This statue is located at the waterfront of Annapolis Harbor – the plaque reads: “To commemorate the arrival in this harbor of Kunta Kinte, immortalized by Alex Haley in ROOTS and all others who came to these shores in bondage and who by their toil, character, and ceaseless struggle for freedom have helped to make these United States.”

 

On Sunday night, we had the pleasure of entertaining Tom's nephew Brian, his wife Anna and extended  family members, along with my college roommate Jerry Solomon and his wife Sheila. We posed for a "groupie" before we had dinner at a the Federal House on Main Street. Unfortunately, Jerry & Sheila were stuck in traffic and aren't in the picture.

On Sunday night, we had the pleasure of entertaining Tom’s nephew Brian, his wife Anna and extended family members, along with my college roommate Jerry Solomon and his wife Sheila. We posed for a “groupie” before we had dinner at a the Federal House on Main Street. Unfortunately, Jerry & Sheila were stuck in traffic and aren’t in the picture.

From Annapolis we ran 40 miles up the Patapsco River to Baltimore, about 10 miles each way off our route. We docked in the Baltimore Inner Harbor, located in the heart of downtown Baltimore. The waterfront/Inner Harbor has been transformed in recent decades, and is home to many shops, restaurants, and attractions, including the Aquarium and the Science Museum. We planned to stay for two days in Baltimore, but stayed an extra day due to high winds. Here are some pictures from our stay:

The Baltimore skyline as seen from the water, entering Baltimore Inner Harbor

The Baltimore skyline as seen from the water, entering Baltimore Inner Harbor

We docked at the City Docks in the Inner Harbor in Baltimore , in the heart of downtown. This is a view from the bridge of the Joint Adventure, looking across the Inner Harbor at the Aquarium and other harborfront buildings containing restaurants, pubs, shops, etc.

We docked at the City Docks in the Inner Harbor in Baltimore , in the heart of downtown. This is a view from the bridge of the Joint Adventure, looking across the Inner Harbor at the Aquarium and other harborfront buildings containing restaurants, pubs, shops, etc.

I boat name I hadn't seen before - it expresses the sentiments of many....

A boat name I hadn’t seen before – it expresses the sentiments of many….

One of the classic ballparks is Camden Yards in Baltimore, home to the Orioles. This iconic part of the park dates from the 1700's, but the stadium itself was built in the 1980's. However, it was designed in the style of the original ballparks like Fenway Park in Boston and Wrigley Field in Chicago, and therefore has real character.

One of the classic ballparks is Camden Yards in Baltimore, home to the Orioles. This iconic part of the park dates from the 1700’s, but the stadium itself was built in the 1980’s. However, it was designed in the style of the original ballparks like Fenway Park in Boston and Wrigley Field in Chicago, and is recognized as one of the great parks to watch a ballgame.

We took a tour of Camden Yards - this is a view from the third base line looking across the field with the warehouse in the background.

We took a tour of Camden Yards during the day – this is a view from the third base line looking across the field with the warehouse in the background.

Hank in the dugout, waiting for his turn at bet....

Hank and Tom in the dugout, waiting for their turn at bat….

Taking in an evening Orioles game at Camden Yards - the O's beat the Mariners 9-4.

Taking in an evening Orioles game at Camden Yards – the O’s beat the Mariners 9-4.

The Baltimore Arts Tower - otherwise known as the "Bromo Tower" - It was built in 1911 by Captain Issac Emerson, the chemist who developed the headache remedy Bromo Seltzer. The tower was part of an 8 story factory where he manufactured huge quantities of the remedy. At the time it was the tallest building in Baltimore and housed the world's largest four-dial gravity clock with faces 24 feet in diameter. An unabashed promoter, Emerson crowned the tower with a 51 foot revolving replica of a Bromo Seltzer bottle - illuminared with nearly 600 lights, it could be seen by seamen 20 miles out to sea. In 1986, the bottle was removed due to structural deterioration.

The Baltimore Arts Tower – otherwise known as the “Bromo Tower” – It was built in 1911 by Captain Issac Emerson, the chemist who developed the headache remedy Bromo Seltzer. The tower was part of an 8 story factory where he manufactured huge quantities of the remedy. At the time it was the tallest building in Baltimore and housed the world’s largest four-dial gravity clock with faces 24 feet in diameter. An unabashed promoter, Emerson crowned the tower with a 51 foot revolving replica of a Bromo Seltzer bottle – illuminared with nearly 600 lights, it could be seen by seamen 20 miles out to sea. In 1986, the bottle was removed and demolished due to structural deterioration.

Fort McHenry, as seen from the water while entering Baltimore Harbor. In the War of 1812, the British intended to burn Baltimore as their next target after having just burned Washington DC. However, they first had to capture Fort McHenry, which guarded the harbor. After 25 hours of bombardment from a fleet of battleships in the harbor, the fort held and the British withdrew. Francis Scott Key, having been captured earlier and imprisoned on a barge anchored in the harbor, awoke in "dawn's early ligh" and saw the American flag still flying over the fort - inspired, he sat down and wrote "The Star Spangled Banner".

Fort McHenry, as seen from the water while entering Baltimore Harbor. In the War of 1812, the British intended to burn Baltimore as their next target after having just burned Washington DC. However, they first had to capture Fort McHenry, which guarded the harbor. After 25 hours of bombardment from a fleet of battleships in the harbor, the fort held and the British withdrew. Francis Scott Key, having been captured earlier and imprisoned on a barge anchored in the harbor, awoke in “dawn’s early light” and saw the American flag still flying over the fort – inspired, he sat down and wrote “The Star Spangled Banner”.

Images from Fort McHenry -

Images from Fort McHenry –

Looking downriver from the Fort towards where the British warships and Francis Scott Key were located and

Looking downriver from the Fort towards where the British warships and Francis Scott Key were located during the bombardment.

Hank explaining to the Colonel how he should be defending the fort -

Hank explaining to the Colonel how he should be defending the fort –

There is a really cool modern sculpture/art museum near the Baltimore harborfront called the American Visionary Museum. They display art that is unusual and unexpected. This is the outside of one of the three buildings.

There is a really cool modern sculpture/art museum near the Baltimore harborfront called the American Visionary Museum. They display art that is unusual and unexpected. This is the outside of one of the three buildings.

A cool statue in the museum -

A cool statue in the museum –

A man on a treadmill, built from old coffee cans -

A man on a treadmill, built from old coffee cans –

A man at his desk -

A man at his desk –

My nephew Jimmy Southerton, his lovely bride Heather, and their two beautiful children - Jameson and Nora - drove from their home in southern Pennsylvania to visit us on the Joint Adventure in Baltimore - a wonderful visit!

My nephew Jimmy Southerton, his lovely bride Heather, and their two beautiful children – Jameson and Nora – drove from their home in southern Pennsylvania to visit us on the Joint Adventure in Baltimore – a wonderful visit!

Jimmy and Jameson in the Science Museum -

Jameson in awe at the Science Museum –

My new nice, Nora - what a beauty!

My new nice, Nora – what a beauty!

The following day, the wind in Baltimore had finally diminished, but it was cold and rainy. However, we wanted to move on, so we ran 50 miles in steady rain to Chesapeake City. The bridge on the Joint Adventure has a bimini top and clear plastic windows that can be zipped into place, so we dressed warm and stayed dry during the run. Chesapeake City is located on the C&D Canal, which connects Chesapeake Bay to Delaware Bay. The map below is the best way to describe the geography:

The bay on the left with a line showing a route is Chesapeake Bay. The bay on the right is Delaware Bay. The C&D Canal , 14 miles long, connects the two bays at their northern end. The map also shows the route we took - instead of running along the Atlantic coast, which would have been shorte, we went north into Chesapeake Bay, then through the C&D Canal, then south through Delaware Bay to Cape May, which is on the tip of the peninsula at the southeast end of Delaware Bay with the Bay on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other.

The bay on the left with a line showing a route is Chesapeake Bay. The bay on the right is Delaware Bay. The C&D Canal, 14 miles long, connects the two bays at their northern end. The map also shows the route we took – instead of running along the Atlantic coast, which would have been shorter, we went north into Chesapeake Bay, then through the C&D Canal, then south through Delaware Bay to Cape May, which is on the tip of the peninsula at the southeast end of Delaware Bay, with the Bay on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other.

Chesapeake City is a hidden gem – a small, historic town with buildings dating in the early 1800’s with some surprisingly good restaurants and a vibrant marina with a large restaurant/lounge that has live music 5 days a week. Here are some pictures:

Originally a bank constructed in the early 1800's, this building has been fully restored and now houses a stained glass window shop with a huge stained glass window displayed inside.

Originally a bank constructed in the early 1800’s, this building has been fully restored and now houses a stained glass window shop with a huge stained glass window displayed inside.

The General Store in Chesapeake City, established in 1861

The General Store in Chesapeake City, established in 1861

No trip to the Chesapeake would be complete without a meal of hard-shell crabs - all you can eat for $29, but you'd better have time and patience, as each crab doesn't yield a great deal of meat. Oh, but so good!

No trip to the Chesapeake would be complete without a meal of hard-shell crabs – all you can eat for $29, but you’d better have time and patience, as each crab doesn’t yield a great deal of meat. Oh, but so good!

The rain cleared but the forecast called for winds increasing to 20 knots with gusts to 30 knots and small craft warnings, so we left at dawn the next day to run 70 miles down Delaware Bay to Cape May, New Jersey. The wind and waves kicked up, but the waves were on our stern so the passage was a bit rough but doable. On the way, we passed the nuclear power plant that my nephew Jimmy Southerton operates:

Jimmy's nuclear power plant has three reactors, but only one utilizes a cooling tower. The other two, of earlier vintage, use water directly from the river for cooling.

Jimmy’s nuclear power plant has three reactors, but only one utilizes a cooling tower. The other two, of earlier vintage, uses water directly from the river for cooling. I texted Jimmy to look out the window and wave, but he threatened to call security if we got too close (just kidding…).

Cape May, New Jersey is unique. Located on a peninsula which separates Delaware Bay from the Atlantic Ocean, it was the country’s first seaside resort. Several large hotels were constructed, and it became the summer playground of socialites in the 18th century. In 1878, a five day long fire destroyed several city blocks, including several of the hotels. Nearly all of the homes that were built during the reconstruction were Victorian style, and today Cape May boasts the second largest collection of Victorian homes in the nation, after San Francisco. In 1976, the entire town was designated a National Historic Landmark, the only city in the nation so designated. Today, the city is a thriving tourist town with tours of the historic homes, great restaurants, and a fantastic beach. Here are some images:

An image from Cape May Harbor, as seen from the bridge of the Joint Adventure

An image from Cape May Harbor, as seen from the bridge of the Joint Adventure

We went for a trolley tour and a horse and buggy tour to see the incredible homes in Cape May

We went for a trolley tour and a horse and buggy tour to see the incredible homes in Cape May

A sign at the horse/carriage tours -

A sign at the horse/carriage tours –

My Dad at the helm of the dinghy as we toured Cape May harbor

My Dad at the helm of the dinghy as we toured Cape May harbor

The next series of pictures are of some of the incredible 19th century homes of Cape May - no further commentary needed

The next series of pictures are of some of the incredible 19th century homes of Cape May – no further commentary needed

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From Cape May, we work our way north on the New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway towards New York. We’re told that the channel is often narrow and shallow, extensive shoaling exists, and some debris from Hurricane Sandy still remains submerged and unmarked. If it gets too precarious, we’ll head into the open water and run outside the shoreline, but we prefer the interesting channels of the ICW if it is safe enough. More to come!

 

 

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2 thoughts on “OYSTER WARS

  1. Barb says:

    One correction-USNA students are Midshipmen, not Cadets. And, I hope you enjoyed some ice cream there! Some of the best shops ever are on Main Street! Makes me miss naptown even more!

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