I did a guest crew passage on the Pride of Baltimore II, from Baltimore to Chestertown, Maryland, on Halloween weekend. After a day of her cutlass-blade hull slicing through the waves under a vast cloud of sail, with Schooner Virginia appearing occasionally on the dark-blue horizon, Pride dropped anchor off Eastern Neck Island National Wildlife Refuge. I had paddled my kayak there often, but had never seen the island and her surrounding waters under a night sky in late fall.
I set up my Pentax K1000 (good ol' basic film camera with one 50mm lens) on a tripod on deck. Shivering in my parka, I watched the sky, glittering with thousands of stars not seen in more civilized places. The only lights were a few vague ones far away, the distant glow of Baltimore on the far horizon, and soft lights high on the masts, marking Pride, and Virginia at anchor. One meteor arced overhead (I had to capture that on Photoshop later). When I saw the print later, I wondered why the stars made arcs across the photo...I had used exposures of half a minute to two minutes...not long enough to capture the movement of stars across the sky.
Then it occured to me: I had captured the gentle swing of Pride herself at anchor on the Bay's night ripple.
I live in the Bay watershed, in farm country far from open water. I came to her shores late, carried there by my sea kayak, searching for green, open places to paddle. I've paddled her backwaters, and occasionally sailed bigger water on hulls that creak and groan with the waves, with rigging that sings in the wind...and dragged friends, relatives, and kids out on adventures with me. I've considered turning back when a huge cartilininous fin surfaced by my paddle (it turned out to be a cownosed ray). I've explored the fossil-laden cliffs, the big waves offshore. Eaten oysters and crabs and wondered if we can restore the sturgeon.
I can only hope the Bay will be here for the next generation, and the ones after that.
Do you have a favorite Bay photo you'd like to submit to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Photo of the Week contest? Send your digital images to CBF's E-Communications Manager, Emmy Nicklin, at enicklin [at sign] cbf.org, along with a brief description of where and when you took the photo and what the Chesapeake Bay means to you. Please also join our Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Flickr group and post your pics to our Facebook page. We look forward to seeing your photos!