Posts Tagged ‘sailing’

Amazing grace. 5.15.10

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

I was truly humbled by the group of folks who came down to Southern Maryland for a daysail charter aboard Schooner Heron. These lawyers (I had to be really careful with my contracts and liability waivers!!!) work in immigration law half the time, at Just Law International, and do pro bono work the other half of the time, working on behalf of the Jubilee Campaign around the world. Ann and Bonnie and Valeria and Sonya and Jiyoon and Tarik, and others who were not on board that day, are doing tremendous humanitarian work — stopping genocide, rewriting laws to protect children, helping refugees, fighting human trafficking, protecting orphans, building homes, working against AIDS… the list goes on… — and I would recommend that people go to their website, learn about their work, and do what you can to support them.

Group Shot

Now, back to the charter. AGAIN, a whole lot of wind. But warmer than the last charter. This day, light jackets gave way to t-shirts. And there was plenty of sun.

Bonnie, Jiyoon and Sonya

The fixin’s were pretty good. Bonnie did a good job of putting together some snacks. And sandwiches were flying back and forth, faster than we could eat them. Ann hands out some of the plates of cheese and crackers.

Ann with good fixin's

We took the time to sail under the Solomons Bridge. Amazing perspective from down below.

Going under bridge

If you want to stay out of the sun, or wind, the place to be is under the dodger. Tarik found a nice spot and claimed it for his own.

Tarik under dodger

Valerie had a great time steering, and held the wheel for quite a good part of the day. She steered better than some of my friends who have been sailing for years. Some people pick it up fairly easily, feeling the wind, the water… the way the boat responds… Others don’t reach that level of comfort and harmony. Valerie was definitely in tune with the natural forces that were driving the boat.

Val at wheel

Being forward on the boat is one of the most exciting places to be. Everyone does the “Titanic” thing, with arms outstretched. You get a tremendous sense of the boat, from the bow, especially looking aft. Instead of being on the boat, looking out, you’re almost off the boat, looking inward. I call it the best seat in the house.

Bonnie forward

This turned out to be a perfect day. Perfect conditions. Wonderful and inspiring conversation. Lots of fun. We all went to dinner afterwards in Solomons Island where I was treated to my meal by the group, an unexpected and appreciated treat. Great sailing, great people… What more can you ask?

May 9th brought lots of chilly wind…

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Rescheduling from a previous weekend, Steve and Lara and friends came down to Solomons Island, in Calvert County, Southern Maryland, for a sailing charter aboard Schooner Heron on a day that started out chilly, stayed chilly, and had more than enough wind to go around. But, they were prepared, with lots of warm layers, ear muffs, gloves, hats… The day turned out to be quite exhilarating. Here, Catalina and Lara are huddling to stay warm.

Lara and Catalina getting warm

One of the most important features of a sailboat is the ability to reduce sail as the wind increases. Reducing sail means to put up smaller sails, reef the mainsail (make it smaller, by lowering a bit of it and tying that off), or in the case of furling sails (which roll up on themselves like a windowshade), to roll them in a bit.

Little bit of wind

Keeping the boat balanced, by adjusting the sail plan so you have the pull of the sails, the “effort” balanced between the front sails and the back sails makes steering the boat much easier. With a schooner rig on Heron, because we have two masts and a wide variety of sails, it is easy to keep the boat balanced and comfortable. Here, Nelson is hanging on, doing a great job at the helm. Nelson has experience racing on small boats, and he has a great feel of the water.

Nelson hanging on

Another point to consider, with sailboats, is that as the wind increases and the boat begins to heel (this is when it gets to be fun!), the wind is spilled over the tops of the sails, so this acts as an automatic way to counteract the effects of sudden strong gusts of wind. Lots of wind, on a properly sailed and balanced boat, means lots of fun. I can’t tell. Was Steve enjoying himself?

Steve at the helm

And even bundled up, sailing can be quite the romantic affair! Steve and Lara… they’re under all those layers somewhere.

Steve and Lara

Now, with all the motion and action, did anyone begin to feel queasy? Nothing worth mentioning!!!

Melissa nice shot

And this photo was definitely not staged. There was really something very important out there on the water.

Steve and Nelson staged

All in all, a great sail on the water with some great folks who loved the raw energy of the day. Another wonderful day for Schooner Heron Charters.

Patuxent Adventure Center - The Place for Outdoor Adventure

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

Schooner Heron edged

When you make a recreational visit to Southern Maryland, try to get in a schooner sail aboard Heron, our beautiful 60′ staysail schooner. Schooner Heron Charters offers the best deal on the Chesapeake Bay to take a personalized schooner sail out of Solomons Island. $390 for a 5-hour daysail charter for 6 people, including lunch! There isn’t a better offer like this, anywhere. Captain Aram Nersesian will do everything he can to make your personalized sailing charter a wonderful experience and a great day on the Chesapeake Bay.

Bikes on racks

Compliment your sailing experience with bicycling and kayaking. Patuxent Adventure Center has kayak and bicycle rentals, as well as lessons, tune-ups, and full repairs. Open six days a week, closed Mondays, Patuxent Adventure Center is your center for all your outdoor needs when you come down to Calvert County for a day or weekend getaway.

Kayak Demo day

May 8th, Patuxent Adventure Center will have a Demo Day at the Solomons Beach on the right side of the main drag going into Solomons Island. Current Designs kayaks will be there in force, and Hurricane and Heritage kayaks will be supports through rentals.

paddle boards

Also, Patuxent Adventure Center now carries Tahoe Stand Up Paddleboards, the lastest craze on the water. These great paddleboards are more for flatwater, and provide higher stability and higher speed/track than stand up paddleboards used in ocean waters.

Kayaks are available on the water, every day, ready for a test paddle. Just let them know what kind of kayak you’re interested in trying out, and they’ll arrange to have a few for side-by-side demonstration. This is really the best way to find the kind of kayak you’re looking for. A 1/2 day kayak rental is $35, and that fee is taken off the price of the kayak if you purchase one.

Sunday, May 16th, the Patuxent Adventure Center is helping to sponsor the Leonardtown Criterium Bicycle Race put on by the Pax Velo Cycling Club. This is a full day of bicycle racing on the square in downtown Leonardtown. Races go all day and the kids race is always a fun time.

Heron aerial

And don’t forget… a visit to Southern Maryland and Solomons Island isn’t really complete without some time out on the water, so plan a day sail aboard Schooner Heron and enjoy the natural beauty of the Chesapeake Bay.

Getting Schooner Heron Ready for Charter Season

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

Ice on Mill Creek

It was a snowy and cold winter… no need to tell anyone that. The cold and wetness put off maintenance and projects on Schooner Heron, so I’m rushing to get things done before our charter season opening on April 16th.

Schooner Heron bow shot

Projects for this spring include re-routing the main engine exhaust hose to prevent hydrolocking. This happened to us about 60 miles offhsore in sporty conditions when we made a quick September, 2009 trip to Block Island. Hydrolocking occurs when water is able to back up through the exhaust hose and enter the engine cylinders, preventing the pistons from moving. You can’t compress water! But the initial symptoms can be confused with other problems. When you turn the key, you hear a clunk, then nothing… so, perhaps a dead battery? Corroded connections? But my good friend and master mariner Karl Westby, aboard for the trip, diagnosed it properly. My 100 hp 2-stroke Detroit was hydrolocked. We were sailors, without an engine. No worries. We had plenty of wind. Anyway, back to the project, the cure is to put a raised loop in the exhaust line to prevent siphoning. Sounds easy, but when you’re working with 4″ rigid exhaust hose, and need to find room for the loop in very tight quarters with an aluminum infrastructure, it can get trying. I completed this job, after a lot of grunting and groaning and lots of cuts to the hands and arms, about two weeks ago.

Maintenance also includes new varnish for the toerails, oil for the teak in the cockpit and on top of the pilothouse… some electrical work, some plumbing… and LOTS of cleaning. We even need to bend on two more sails which have been plumped in a pile in a bedroom for the winter.

We’ll be ready, and our first booked charter is April 18th, the Sunday of the Tiki Bar opening, and the second day of the rockfish season opening weekend. It’s going to be crowded out there on the Bay!

Rockfish are coming… “We need a bigger boat!”

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

Giant Rockfish caught April 2010

Rockfish season opens in Maryland on April 17, and the big ones are already in the Bay. This 50 pounder was caught during a research fishing trip for the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Chesapeake Bay Biological Laboratory on Solomons Island, Maryland. From the looks of things, we’re gonna need BIG boats this year!!!

April Events… and… Tiki Bar 30th Anniversary Opening!

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

Schooner Heron Charters is opening its season with the greatest deal on the Bay for personalized private schooner charters, on April 16th. Plan your Southern Maryland getaway and include an afternoon sail for six people on our beautiful 60 foot schooner, Heron, and throw your cares to the wind!

Tiki Bar Opening Solomons Island

If you like huge crowds, great scenery, and an incredible Mardi Gras atmosphere, get anchored to the Tiki Bar on its 30th Year Anniversary opening party, Friday, April 16. The seasonal opening is always the biggest party of the year, but this year they will be celebrating 30 years of Tiki goodness. The Tiki Gods are planning it now and it will be a must-attend event. The Tiki Gods also remind you to drink responsibly and have a designated driver! See the website for details.

Jefferson Patterson Park Calvert County Tourism

Ever wonder what archaeologists do? Join the staff at Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum Saturday, April 17, for their 2010 season opening, Discovering Archaeology Day. Discover the where, what and how of archaeology. The park will be open from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. with demonstrations, tours, displays and hands-on activities for all ages.

Breezy Point Beach Calvert County tourism

On Monday, April 19, don your spiffy pirate duds and hit Breezy Point Beach to join Captain Jack for a real-life treasure hunt. There’s a pirate chest buried in the sand and it’s full of treasure. What sort of treasure you say? Aye, that’s for you to find out, Mate! The admission is free, but you must register by April 16. It’s easy to register – walk into any Calvert County Parks and Recreation office, phone 410-535-1600, ext. 2225, fax 410-535-2233 or go online, The program number is 460400A.

Looking for a fun way to stay fit? Breezy Point Beach has the sand, the ball and the net – all they need is you for beach volleyball. They are creating a summer league and if you are interested in keeping fit and having fun in the sun, call 410-535-0259 or e-mail the staff.

Lots of March activities in Southern Maryland

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Schooner Heron Charters is ready to take you sailing!!! Our season starts April 16th, and springtime brings great temperatures and great winds. Our $390 offer, for a five hour sail for six people, out of Solomons Island, is unbeatable on the Chesapeake Bay. Get out on the water and throw your cares to the wind!

schooner heron

Our local Department of Tourism hero, Joyce Baki, writes a column, ongoing, about activities and events in Calvert County. We’re privileged to be able to reproduce that column in the Schooner Heron Charters blog. If you want the latest information about interesting ways to spend your time in Southern Maryland, look here, or go to Joyce’s website: and click on “Tourism.” She is happy to help one and all get the most out of their recreational visit to Southern Maryland.

Spring is popping out all over! Crocuses are starting to bloom and you can actually smell the fresh scent of spring. We are moving from the dull browns and grays of winter to the colors of spring and there are many great events in Calvert County – it is time to get out of the house and enjoy life.

Make a date with Annmarie to enjoy an adult evening of art, wine and live music on Saturday, March 20, from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. at Annmarie After Hours: AAH! Annmarie Garden opens their newest exhibit Constructed Place, where you can interact and immerse yourself in the created spaces, built places and imagined environments designed and sculpted by the Washington Sculptors Group. Annmarie After Hours will feature the jazz music of Joyce Kinser, complimentary appetizers and tastings from the Blue Wind Gourmet and special sales in the gift shop. This is a perfect stop before or after dinner. (

The Calvert Artists’ Guild will host their Guild Art Show on the mezzanine at Annmarie Garden on Saturday and Sunday, March 20-21. An artists’ reception is planned for Saturday, March 20, from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. and artists from around Southern Maryland will be featured. Since its inception in 1978 the Calvert Artists’ Guild has promoted art in Calvert County and works to develop interest and appreciation in all media of art. (

Put on your Easter finery and hop down to Chesapeake Beach for an Easter Parade on the Boardwalk, Saturday, March 27, from noon to 1:30 p.m. The parade will begin at 17th Street and the Boardwalk and make its way down to Bayfront Park, where games await the children. The Easter Bunny will pass out treats supplied by the Town of Chesapeake Beach and local merchants so bring your Easter basket. Raindate – Saturday, April 3 (

The Solomons Business Association hosts the 10th annual Taste of Solomons on Saturday, March 27. Participating restaurants will showcase their signature dishes with tastings. Tickets are $4 per tasting and are available at participating restaurants and the Solomons Visitor Center. But that’s not all: Patuxent Adventure Center offers kayak rentals and classes with demonstrations on the Riverwalk. Stop by Bunky’s Charter Boats or Kingfisher’s Charters to learn how you and your family can enjoy a day of sportfishing. Explore maritime history and visit the river otters at Calvert Marine Museum. Sample tastings of recipes from the many cookbooks in the Calvert Marine Museum gift shop will also be available. Stop by Port of Call Liquors for a wine tasting. The Taste of Solomons brings many tasty and fun opportunities to see what this vibrant little island has to offer. (

Head down to Pepper’s Pet Pantry on Sunday, March 28, for a very special event sponsored by the Humane Society of Calvert County and St. Mary’s Animal Welfare League. “Black Tie/White Tails Event” will feature black and white canines and felines looking for a home. The event runs from noon to 3 p.m. Light refreshments will be provided for this free and fun event. Pepper’s Pet Pantry is located at 13858 Solomons Island Road, next to Solomons Vet and Patuxent Adventure Center. The store is full of wonderful items for your furry four-legged friends! For more information, visit or Learn more about Pepper’s Pet Pantry at

Get outdoors with the American Chestnut Land Trust on Saturday, March 27, for hiking trail maintenance and vine vindicator work day. From 9 a.m. to noon the group will work to improve the native plant species by identifying and removing non-native invasive plant species. Bring work gloves, loppers and clippers if you have them. Or help ACLT on Sunday, March 28, for Barn Work Day. Join the barn volunteer crew from 8 a.m. to noon as they maintain historic barns located throughout ACLT’s preserved property. To register, call 410-414-3400 or visit online at

Children in grades one through three can find out how spring is springing into our local parks. Join the staff at Battle Creek Cypress Swamp for the Spring Into Spring Mini Camp, Monday through Wednesday, March 29-31. Children will explore the woods, streams and swamps in this program, discovering if there are tadpoles in the pond and using binoculars to see birds singing in the woods. Songs, games, crafts and live animal observations will also be part of the learning experience. Bring a lunch and dress for the weather. Call 410-535-5327 for fees. (

Annmarie Garden and the United Way are teaming up with an afternoon of healthy and creative programs for all ages. On Sunday, March 28, visit the Garden Garden for “Sunday FunDay.” Take a walk, play with clay in the Ceramics Studio and enjoy other fun family-friendly programs. Annmarie Garden will offer free site admission from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and additional information can be found at

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Schooner Heron Charters is pulling the rug out of the bottom of the private charter business on the Chesapeake Bay. Times are tough, and we want to get folks out on the water, so we’ve reduced our price for a 5-hour daysail out of Solomons Island for six people, including lunch, to $390! There’s nothing on the Bay like this. Sail on Schooner Heron, our 60′ custom aluminum schooner, and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Bay.

Visit our website:

Also, look to this blog and on our website in the coming weeks as we post information about local restaurants, lodging, and special events.

2 spin during race

Looking forward to the sailing season! We are aiming to start our season by the weekend of April 16th. This also happens to be the opening of the “world famous” Tiki Bar in Solomons Island. An afternoon sail would be a wonderful complement to all the action on the Island.

See the tiki bar website for more info.