A Night on the Sultana while at port (Havre de Grace, Maryland)
edited: Thursday, April 04, 2002
By CC Colee
Posted: Thursday, April 04, 2002
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Cody did manage to get that night on board a sailing ship. Read about her experience of that night.
Upon the invitation of Captain Gioia Blix, I had the great pleasure and honor to spend the night aboard this fine sailing vessel as she was docked at Hutchens Park in Havre de Grace. First thing on the agenda was dinner. Natalie, the cook, had prepared Borsch and Reuben sandwiches. After dinner, we sat on the deck and Rowland, one of the crew, was playing his guitar and chatting with Michele, another of the crew. They were discussing historical Maryland and her place in the colonies.
I met Drew McMullen, the Project Director of the Sultana. He was the captain on board as Captain Blix was on leave. Mr. McMullen and one of the crew members, Josh Herman, a shipwright who helped to build this new Sultana, were discussing the aspects of navigation int eh days of yore before fancy instruments came into play. So you see, even in the off-hours, one could get an education on this vessel. (Might I interject here that Josh was reading a reference book about Captain Cook....well done Josh!)
Later in the evening, I was invited to sit in on a game of cards with the crew, Josh, Rowland, Natalie, Danielle, Michele, and Courtney. I politely bowed out and opted to watch instead. Indeed, I am sure that they were engaging in an age-old past time of seafarers that have preceded them. Soon, even with the annoying lights that dotted the dock at the park, it was too dark for them to see. The game broke up and they went to their respective bunks for the night.
I took a bunk farthest aft in the Seaman’s berth area on the portside below decks. I was given a little inflatable camp mat of sorts and even though it was on bare wood, I thought it was quite comfortable. Jos set up fans to circulate the air because of the heat and humidity and it made it quite comfortable for sleeping. By pre-dawn, I was scratching for my little blanket that I had brought!
I came up on deck at 5:45am before the sunrise the next morning. The Sultana was enveloped in quiet morning sounds and sights. Lapping waves just barely disturbed the water that looked like opaque glass. Land and sea birds were waking up. There was the call of a Great Blue Heron flying overhead. Spiders were still busy in their webs that had been constructed on the rigging the night before and, of course, the mosquitoes were out there for the meal of the morning too. A crow perched on the topsail and squawked. It reminded me of a line in our book, RB: The Widow Maker – Did you steal my bracelet? Aubrey Malone asked.
The shorelines of the Perry Point VA Medical Center across the river were shrouded in silhouette and the shorelines of Perryville and points south could barely be seen due to the humidity already this fine August morning. The moon set in the West to give way to the great ball of red fire that rose in the East and made a fiery alley on the water (another image from RB: The Widow Maker).
The crew was due to shake a leg at 6:45am to begin their day and make preparations for a tour group of teachers from an area school that would be boarding for the educational cruises. The first of the local dockside fishermen showed up shortly thereafter. I understand they were just a bit put out by the Sultana being here as she took up a good deal of their regular fishing space. Hang in there boys, she is only in town for a couple more days and then you can have your dock back! I promise you, the big ones are still hanging around the pilings waiting on you to drop your hook and line for them.
I disembarked for the Sultana at about 7am to get out of the way and return to my land life. I want to say that I thoroughly enjoyed that overnighter and that I appreciate Captain Blix, Drew McMullen, Rowland, Josh, Danielle, Courtney, Michele, and Natalie for their hospitality and the opportunity to share with them.