From the Bay

From the Bay, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

Learn To Sail in Winter?

By Beth Crabtree Learn To Sail in Winter? Yes. You. Can. For many sailors on the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries—that means you too, Potomac River lovers—October offered beautiful days on the water. There will no doubt be several days in November, as well, when the air is crisp and clear, fewer powerboats are on the water, and the light, fluky winds of summer have given way to steady breezes. At Halloween, most sailing programs in our area will have stopped running their on-the-water instructional programs, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait until next spring to learn how to sail. Here are a few ways for a mid-Atlantic would-be sailor to continue learning through autumn and winter. Take a ‘Learn to Sail’ Vacation During the winter months, some local sailing schools are in full swing with classes farther south. Sail Solomons, which runs summer classes out of Solomons Island, MD, also offers courses in the Caribbean, such as a flotilla in 2022 in Guadeloupe. Whether you’re looking at a Chesapeake-based school’s satellite program, or a school headquartered down south, such as Offshore Sailing School, look for schools recognized by the American Sailing Association or U.S. Sailing, organizations with high standards for safety and instruction. Visit winter sailboat shows The St. Petersburg Sail and Power Show (January 20-23, 2022) and Chicago Boat Show (January 12-16) are two such shows. (The U.S. Sailboat Show held in Annapolis in October has come and gone but worth plugging into your calendar October 13-17, 2022). Here you’ll find representatives from sailing schools and clubs who can help you get started as well as representatives from charter companies who offer learning vacations. You will also find informative, free seminars. If you’re willing to hire a captain, you could spend a weekend this fall sailing…

Continue Reading

From the Bay, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

When Leaves Leave: Autumn reveals trees’ true colors!

By Kathy Reshetiloff When Leaves Leave: Autumn reveals trees’ true colors! Autumn always seems to sneak up. Slowly, the heat and humidity of summer is replaced with cooler, drier days. Here and there, autumn colors peek out of the green landscape. Then, before you know it, nature’s festival of color is in full swing. And just as quickly, it seems, the brilliant fall hues are replaced by dismal browns, and leaves carpet our lawns and gardens. Actually, this leaf shedding process, known as abscission, begins before the colors appear. As summer’s heat fades, the cells where the leaf stem is attached to the tree toughen and begin to form a protective waterproof scar. The cells in the leaf stem swell, weaken and degenerate. This interferes with the flow of moisture and nutrients into the leaf, reducing the production of chlorophyll, which gives leaves their green color. The leaf is the food factory for the tree. Chlorophyll in a leaf uses the sun’s energy to convert carbon dioxide and water into sugar, which is food for the tree. As the days shorten, there is less sunlight to manufacture food. Nutrients and minerals are withdrawn from leaves and transported to the permanent parts of trees, such as the trunk, stems and roots. Chlorophyll breaks down. But leaves contain other pigments that give them their fiery fall colors. These colors are hidden in the spring and summer by the abundance of chlorophyll. Leaves reveal their autumn colors as chlorophyll breaks down and other pigments are unmasked. The pigment called xanthophyll gives leaves a yellow color, and carotene produces yellow-orange. Leaves continue to produce sugar during the day, but colder night temperatures prevent trees from withdrawing the food from the leaves. Sunny days and cool nights can produce anthocyanin, a sugar-related pigment that turns…

Continue Reading

From the Bay, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

‘God’s engineers’

By Tom Horton, Bay Journal News Service   Faithful readers know that I have become a beaver believer. For most of the time that the Chesapeake Bay has existed, beavers by the millions inhabited every nook and cranny of the six-state watershed (and most of North America). By damming, digging and ponding, the rodents controlled the continent’s hydrology and shaped the landscape in ways that delivered profoundly cleaner, clearer water to streams and rivers and estuaries. Their work also created rich habitats for a host of other denizens of the air and swamps. So the premise of a forthcoming Bay Journal film, Water’s Way: Thinking Like A Watershed, is that more beavers — virtually trapped out by the 1750s — could significantly and cost-effectively boost Bay restoration. But humans have expanded their presence in the region since the beavers’ heyday, from an estimated 165,000 Native Americans to some 18 million moderns, and that obviously precludes re-beavering to the max. Still, there is immense potential. Beavers are adapting to even highly developed locales; we have filmed wonderful wetlands complexes they have built behind a Royal Farms in the pavement-clad heart of Baltimore’s White Marsh-Middle River urbanization. And they are relentless, bundles of instinct and compulsion, constantly expanding their projects up and down every stream, always exploring around the next bend, and the next, and the next (kind of like humans). So what ecologists term “carrying capacity” — physical habitat — for beavers to return abounds. The real question is “cultural carrying capacity”: the willingness of landowners and governments to accommodate a critter who chews trees and plugs drainageways and floods landscapes for a living. The Bay Journal film I’m working on with Dave Harp and Sandy Cannon-Brown aims to expand that cultural carrying capacity, to show why we must champion beavers (and emulate them) and to show that there are relatively…

Continue Reading

From the Bay, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

The Chesapeake’s Sea Glass – A Treasure to Many

By Jeremy Cox The Chesapeake’s Sea Glass – A Treasure to Many Like a stalking predator hearing movement in the bushes, Linda Starling froze, her senses perched on a hair trigger. At first, the only obvious sound along this sandy stretch of shoreline was the dull rumble of jets idling on the runway across the Chesapeake Bay at Naval Air Station Patuxent River. But there it was again, unmistakable this time: a high-pitched tinkling emanating from the soft boundary between land and water. “Did you hear that?” Starling asked, with growing excitement. “You can hear the glass in the water.” Sea glass, as it’s called, whether it’s found in an ocean, bay or river, begins as litter in the water. Then wind, waves and sand intervene, shaping and sculpting, polishing and smoothing. Years, perhaps even decades, pass. On the far side of its journey, the glass morphs into something else, something more than an ordinary shard of silicate. Something collectible. Wherever in the world shells, driftwood or other debris wash up along the edge of the water, it’s a decent bet that sea glass is sprinkled in as well. With more than 11,500 miles of shoreline on the Bay and its tidal tributaries — more than the entire U.S. West Coast — the Bay is like a huge catcher’s mitt for floating detritus like sea glass. And it has a ready supply from a range of sources: junk jettisoned from cargo ships, cast-off glassware from long-shuttered waterfront factories and underwater caches of trash from when the Bay moonlighted as a de facto landfill. In the Bay and its rivers, as opposed to the ocean, glass generally takes longer to transform into sea glass (decades as opposed to years) because of the relatively gentle waves and lower salt content, avid collectors say. But…

Continue Reading

From the Bay, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

Celebrate Local Lighthouses Throughout St. Mary’s County During National Lighthouse Weekend!

Celebrate Local Lighthouses Throughout St. Mary’s County During National Lighthouse Weekend! Join the St. Mary’s County Museum Division in celebrating some of St. Mary’s County’s most significant lighthouses during National Lighthouse Weekend, Saturday, August 7 through Sunday August 8th at Piney Point Lighthouse in Piney Point and Blackistone Lighthouse on St. Clement’s Island, near Colton’s Point. Special activities and tours will be available at both locations during the entire weekend. In Colton’s Point, check out the St. Clement’s Island Museum before taking a boat ride out to St. Clement’s Island where visitors can experience a free tour of Blackistone Lighthouse (the replica of the original lighthouse that stood near the same location on the island) from the St. Clement’s hundred Blackistone Lighthouse volunteers. Regular museum admission and water taxi fees apply. At Piney Point, visitors can celebrate the oldest lighthouse on the Potomac’s 185th anniversary with tours of the museum. The Potomac River Maritime Exhibit features full-sized workboats, two floors of brand-new exhibits in the main museum building, the Piney Point lighthouse tower, Keeper’s Quarters and grounds. The Keeper’s Quarters and the Lighthouse will offer special tours featuring Light Keeper Yeatman and his wife. The National Capital Radio and Television Museum from Bowie will also be on-site with a special exhibit. For more information about St. Clement’s Island Museum, please call 301-769-2222 or visit Facebook.com/SCIMuseum. For more information about The Piney Point Lighthouse Museum, call 301-9941471 or visit Facebook.com/1836Light.

From the Bay, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

Shifts in Underwater Grasses Impact Humans as well as Wildlife

By Briana M. Yancy Shifts in Underwater Grasses Impact Humans as well as Wildlife Last year, I worked for the Chesapeake Conservation Corps, a team of young adults who gain environmental experience while working for a year at nonprofit organizations and government agencies across the Chesapeake Bay region. During my time with the corps, I soared in my kayak over beds of underwater grasses and stepped carefully among the beds to collect seeds for restoration. I watched fish follow the channels I made as I walked, had clumsy blue crabs brush up against my legs, and strategically avoided sea nettles caught in the grass canopy. The health of the Chesapeake Bay depends on maintaining high levels of biodiversity, and that requires protecting beds of underwater grasses, also called submerged aquatic vegetation. They are one of the Bay’s most valuable resources, supporting an abundance of aquatic life. They also provide many benefits for humans, called ecosystem services, which include healthy fisheries, improved water clarity and shoreline protection. Twenty species of native and non-native underwater vegetation are found in the Chesapeake. Unfortunately, their acreage has been declining for several decades due to human activity, climate change and pollution. Having a mixture of grass species is important for their resilience. But in the southern Chesapeake Bay, where salinity is the highest, only two species coexist: eelgrass and widgeon grass. Eelgrass populations have declined and are expected to keep declining as temperatures, disease and pollution increase. When eelgrass dies off, widgeon grass takes its place, but it is not clear if the ecosystem services provided by widgeon grass will be as beneficial as those provided by eelgrass. What changes in ecosystem services can we expect and what do these shifts mean for life in and around the Bay? Loss of eelgrass The loss of…

Continue Reading

From the Bay, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

The Verdict on the 2021 Blue Crab Stock….It’s Mixed!

From the Bay By Karl Blankenship  The Verdict on the 2021 Blue Crab Stock….It’s Mixed! The number of blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay this winter plummeted to the fourth-lowest on record, driven largely by the worst-ever showing of juvenile crabs since an annual Baywide survey began in 1990. Though the juvenile drop is concerning, fishery managers say the number of adult females remains robust. They hope the females will produce a better crop of juveniles when they breed later this year. This year’s winter dredge survey, which provides an annual snapshot of the health of the blue crab stock, estimated that the Chesapeake had 282 million crabs, the lowest number since 2007. That figure includes just 81 million juveniles, the lowest in the survey’s history. But the number of young crabs naturally varies from year to year. Females release their larvae near the mouth of the Bay in the fall, which then float into the ocean. The number of juvenile crabs that survive and return to the Chesapeake is highly dependent on weather conditions, currents and other variables outside the Bay each winter. Because those conditions cannot be controlled, fishery managers in 2008 adapted a strategy aimed at ensuring enough adult females survive harvest pressure each year to produce a robust crop of eggs. The hope is that the large number of eggs they produce will encounter favorable coastal conditions often enough to keep the overall population healthy. The survey found a healthy population of females: 158 million, the 10th best number since the survey began, and well above the 72.5 million threshold, the minimum number scientists believe is needed to protect the stock. “We’re comfortable with where we are currently with the abundance of females,” said Mike Luisi, director of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources fisheries monitoring…

Continue Reading

From the Bay, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

Underwater Drones In Chesapeake Oyster’s Future

Underwater Drones In Chesapeake Oyster’s Future By Tim Wheeler People have been farming oysters in the Chesapeake Bay since at least the 1800s, and some of the methods and tools in use today haven’t changed much. Now, some researchers and entrepreneurs are working to bring oyster aquaculture into the 21st century. Just as agriculture increasingly uses new technology such as airborne drones to monitor crop growth and equipment that applies fertilizer more precisely, scientists hope to boost the aquaculture industry’s output and profitability by employing remote sensing, robotics and other cutting-edge technology. Such innovations are important for both oyster growers and the Bay. With the Chesapeake bivalve population suffering from pollution, habitat loss and disease, oyster farming has become a vital complement to the wild fishery. And, if the new efforts succeed, the growth of aquaculture can further ease harvest pressure on ecologically important wild oysters and help restore their abundance in the Chesapeake.  Eyes underwater Working with a $10 million grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, a group of researchers from the University System of Maryland and other institutions on the Gulf and West coasts is developing a submersible drone that could increase the efficiency of planting and harvesting oysters on the Bay’s bottom. “Basically, what we’re trying to do here is very similar to land-based precision farming,” said Miao Yu, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Maryland College Park campus and research team leader. Oyster farmers, especially those who cultivate the mollusks the old-fashioned way — loose on the bottom of creeks and coves — often check on their crop’s progress by pulling some of them out of the water, using scissors-like tongs similar to what watermen wielded in the 1800s and 1900s. Or they may send divers down to inspect the…

Continue Reading

From the Bay, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

Core Value

Photo by Dan Phelps/SpinSheet From the Bay By Molly Winans Core Value Let’s try some guided imagery to start the sailing season. Take a deep breath. Relax. Imagine. It’s your first big day on the water and a sunny, 70-degree one. You slip on your new Maui Jims and work your way up on deck to rig up the new jib (this is imagery, right? It’s all shiny and new). Fast forward to envisioning yourself at the mast. Hoist! Later, you change a sail or two on the bow, mess with the pole, and run down below to pack a chute. Brace yourself for that puff! Whoa, that was a good one. Now you’re in the cockpit. Can you pass up that other headsail? Careful, it’s heavy. I got it. Can you hand me a winch handle? Trim, trim, trim. Ease, ease. Nice. Can you guys hike out a bit? Could you crawl out to skirt the jib? Such an upbeat sailing day goes by quickly. I’ll take a beer. Ah. Here, I can help you with the boom cover. Need a hand? Hand me that big duffel bag. Pass me the cooler. What a wonderful day, thank you! Fast forward to the next day. How does your back feel? Let’s slide out of sailing fantasy camp and into reality. How does your back really feel the next morning after the first windy day sail or race? Local sailor Kerry De Vivo knows about painting hulls, hoisting sails, hiking out, doing quick tacks, and how all of it affects the back and body. As a Pilates instructor with Excel Pilates Annapolis, she says, “We’re all trying to get our sea legs back. It’s important to get ahead of the curve and take care of yourself rather than wait until you…

Continue Reading

From the Bay, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

Celebrate the Inaugural Annapolis Oyster Fest  from March 1st to 21st

From the Bay Celebrate the Inaugural Annapolis Oyster Fest  from March 1st to 21st The Downtown Annapolis Partnership has launched a new event called the Annapolis Oyster Fest to help boost sales for local restaurants, Maryland’s Waterman, and a Maryland-based brewery this March 1st to 21st.  This event has also partnered with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to raise funds for Chesapeake Bay restoration projects, shell recycling, and oyster restoration efforts. The restaurants in the downtown Annapolis area will feature a wide variety of oyster dishes, oyster stew, oyster po’boys, oyster shooters, and raw and grilled oysters on the half shell.  A few of the restaurants are already announcing some of their menu items including Luna Blu Ristorante Italiano will be serving baked oysters with leeks, parmesan & bacon with a dash of cayenne, the Annapolis Market House will have a Tall Timbers Oyster Stew, Federal House is offering four different oyster dishes including the BOLT Sandwich: bacon, fried oysters, lettuce and tomato on wheat with spicy remoulade, and both McGarvey’s and Buddy’s Crabs will have local oysters for $1 each.  Expect to find another dozen or two more restaurants posting their oyster special menu items on the website. The oyster dishes will be available through participating restaurants for both dine-in and carry-out. Eastern Shore Brewing Company is partnering with the restaurants to create Maryland craft beer specials during the event that will complement their oyster dishes.  Most restaurants will have these specials available for both dine-in and carryout. Oysters have been a local favorite for centuries and with modern oyster farms, you can now have fresh oysters year-round in Annapolis.  With most oysters consumed in restaurants, this past year has been particularly tough for local oyster farms as restaurants had to cut back indoor capacity.  The slowdown in sales has not only impacted the restaurants…

Continue Reading

View More