Saturday, July 31, 2021

Done Sailing for the Season, Back in Washington

On Thursday (July 29), Peter and I packed two suitcases apiece (one of his contains only tools) and personal bags and worked on getting everything ready for hauling out the boat on Friday. Among the jobs were getting all the lines off the deck to keep them cleaner (my task) and pulling the two outboard motors out of the forepeak so that Peter could get them ready for storage until next spring. On Friday (July 30), we got up at 6 a.m. to do final tasks. I needed to launder all the sheets and towels we had been using as well as a load of our clothes, and Peter had to shut down systems and do other jobs. The boatyard was ready to get started around 9:30. We cast off the lines and motored over to the travel lift. I dogged down all the hatches and closed all the durades while Peter coiled lines and got other things on deck ready. And then Mantra was lifted out of her natural habitat, the water, and put up on tripod stands on the hard. Forlornly, she rests on the land, longing, I am sure, for the open sea. 

Mantra on the hard

While the boatyard people were getting here secured on land, Peter and I went out to lunch at Capsize Restaurant nextdoor to the marina. Then, I finished laundry before joining Peter on the boat far above the ground, to drain the water tanks, secure the protective tarp and do final preparations for abandoning her in Maryland. Peter will be back on the fall to work on hatches and deck repairs and many other items.

Then we drove to Washington, D.C., arriving at 8 p.m. at Lori's house, where she had prepared a delicious dinner for us of a squash casserole and a colorful salad with produce from her garden. 

This morning, we slept in and enjoyed breakfast and conversation with Lori before departing around 10 a.m. for downtown. We caught a bus to the Renwick Gallery, a jewel among the Smithsonian museums. On the first floor is exhibited the works of the four winning artists of the Renwick Invitational 2020: Forces of Nature. The first installation was composed of hundreds of suspended rows of squares of cotton dyed with indigo in subtly different values. The artist, Rowland Ricketts, grows and processed his own indigo in Indiana, having apprenticed with Japanese growers and dyers, and then creates his art installations in collaboration with others.

The second artist, Laren Fenterstock, also exhibited a single piece entitled The Totality of Time Lusters the Dark. Stylizied clouds and a glistening comet with a tail stretching to the end of the piece are suspended over a garden comprised of ponds among grasses and other plants, all in shades of black. Encrusted in crystals, glass and obsidian, the room-size piece of art is glittering and ominous. 

The Totality of Time Lusters the Dark

The third gallery contains a stunning series of four trees--a magnolia, a cherry, a winter plum and a wisteria--glass sculptures by artist Debora Moore. Colorful, luminous, peaceful and amazing in their fine detail, they awed us with their beauty, and we circled among them for some time. 

Magnolia bloom in glass

Magnoia tree



The works in the final installation, by Tim Horn, takes inspiration from seventeenth century jewelry patterns, baroque decoration, and patterns found in nature, such as those made by lichen and coral. While some of the works are crafted from bronze and glass, others are made of crystallized rock sugar over frameworks of metal and wood. One of these is a ornate chandelier while another is a carriage modeled after one found in the home of Alma Spreckels, the wealthy wife of a man who made his fortune in the sugar industry. 


Crystallized sugar carriage

After being wowed by the art on the first floor, we visited the second floor of the Renwick to enjoy the contemporary crafts on display there. I have seen these works during previous visits, but they are well worth viewing again. Peter was particularly impressed with The Bureau of Bureaucracy, a large piece exhibiting superb carpentry skills as well as whimsy and satire. 

Janet Echelman's 1.8 Renwick

The weather in Washington today was magnificent, warm and sunny but not hot. There are many, many more tourists than there were just a couple weeks ago but it still did not seem crowded. I don't think the tour bus industry is in full swing. We walked past majestic federal buildings and the White House and encountered a memorial sculpture for the Boy Scouts of America. We walked along the Mall to the Sculpture Garden of the National Gallery of Art, where we had a satisfying lunch at the cafe there. 

Peter at the Monument to the Boy Scouts of America

Peter was interested in going to the Rodin sculpture garden, but I assured him that it did not exist in Washington. He was sure that it did, and I finally realized that he was remembering the Rodin sculptures in the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden, so we walked across the Mall and strolled around there, admiring not only Rodin's Burghers of Calais, Walking Man and Balzac as well as work by other modern sculptors such as Henry Moore and Jean Arp. 

Peter and The Burghers of Calias

We caught a bus back to Glover Park and returned to Lori's, where she and her "friend" German were preparing a dinner of pisto (Spanish vegetable stew), rice and salmon. It was nice becoming better acquainted with him over a fine meal.

More museums tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Back in Oxford after the Beach and another Sojourn in Washington

Except for Matthew, who is trapped in England, and my brother-in-law Rich, who is trapped by his work as an oral surgeon, everyone in the Rodgers family was at the beach in Ocean City, Maryland: my dad and his 5 children and 4 spouses; 9 out of 10 grandchildren plus 3 spouses and 1 boyfriend in that generation; and all 8 of Dad's great-grandchildren. Joining us, as usual, was my good friend Lori and her 2 children plus 3 of their friends, and, for a couple days, Lori's boyfriend and 2 of his children. We were very fortunate to have consistently great weather all week, and we enjoyed lots of time on the beach, kayaking on the bay, dinner out one night, an evening of putt-putt golf, a pirate ship ride for the little kids and their parents and grandparents one morning, and lots of good food. On Thursday of beach week, Terry and Karen came with us to Oxford and we spent a few hours sailing on Mantra. 

The whole gang

The putt-putt golfers

My brother Terry and his wife Karen on Mantra

Terry at the helm

Zofi becoming a mermaid

Katya, Peter and I returned to the boat on Saturday, July 24, and took advantage of having three people to take down the mainsail and the sail cover and put up the enormous shade tarp that extends from the bow to the pilot house. It keeps the boat cooler and stops the rain from leaking in through the failing deck hatches, but it's like a tomb down below. Katya declared that her definition of a boat is: a lot of work! 

Peter and I were unable to take down the headsail on Sunday (July 25) morning because of gusty wind, so Katya and I were able to get an early start to Washington, D.C. Our first destination was the National Arboretum. Katya was interested in seeing the National Bonsai and Penjing exhibit. The museum is currently closed due to COVID-19, but there was plenty to admire in the gardens. We also visited the Herb Garden and the meadow with the Capitol Columns. These 22 sandstone Corinthian columns once graced the east portico of the U.S. Capitol, from 1828 to 1958. The columns were removed when an addition to the east side of the building was added in the mid-20th century.

Penjing garden with figurine

Katya admiring bonsai

Bonsai forest

Bonsai with stripped bark

The Capitol Columns

Katya in the Herb Garden of the National Arboretum

We planned to spend most of the day at the Museum of Natural History, perhaps our favorite Smithsonian. However, when we approached it after having had lunch in Penn Quarter, we found a line from 14th Street to the central entrance on the Mall side (about two blocks) and an equally long line on Constitution Avenue. We estimated that we would spend at least an hour waiting to get in, so we sadly walked away and decided to visit the National Gallery of Art instead. Katya roamed around in no orderly fashion while I took up where I had left off a couple weeks ago and visited the galleries of the eastern side of the main building in proper order. By 4 p.m., our legs and feet were tired and our minds really did not want to absorb anything else, so we drove to Lori's house in the Glover Park neighborhood. 

Katya by the fountain in the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

Lori fixed a great dinner for her daughter Elizabeth, her friend Zofi, Katya, me and herself. Elizabeth had discovered a venue where art and technology are merged, and the five of us had tickets for the 9:00 entrance to Artechouse, a place that features a themed, interactive experience. Inspired by the cherry blossom festival, the visuals evoke scenes of Tokyo now and 100 years from now, and imagines the impacts of climate change and pollution and the roles of AI. Through movement within the various galleries, the audience could produce change, including blossoming trees and flocks of butterflies, bringing hope to what were otherwise colorful, magnetic yet disturbing scenes. We stayed for an hour immersing ourselves in the experience.

Butterflies in response to Sherri's movement

Trashed Tokyo with emerging cherry trees

Katya creating movement in a pan with her hand

A place to create chime-like music with hand movements

Cherry trees and butterflies in the main exhibit

Unfortunately, the Smithsonian is just in the process of re-opening. Many of the museums, such as Air and Space and the Hirshhorn, are still closed, and those that are open are on a reduced schedule. None of them is open seven days a week as usual. Unfortunately, the Natural History is not open on Mondays and Tuesdays, so Katya and I had to make another choice. The building of the National Botanic Gardens is closed due to the pandemic, but the outside areas are open, so we went there first before it became too hot. As we made our way to the Freer Gallery, we also explored various small but colorful and delightful Smithsonian gardens including the Mary Livingston Ripley Garden, the Kathrine Dulin Folger Rose Garden, the Moongate Garden and the Enid A. Haupt Garden outside the Castle. 

Katya and Sherri at the National Botanic Gardens

Mother of thousands plant


Crimson pitcher plants

At the Freer, we discovered many interesting things about Asian and Middle Eastern art through the pieces on display; learned about the life, styles and techniques of the Japanese artist Horusai; admired atmospheric landscape and portrait paintings by Whistler and Dewing and other turn of the previous century American artists; and delighted in the bold interior design and display of Freer's Asian vases and other ceramics in the Peacock Room designed by Whistler. 

Katya and I had lunch downtown and then took the bus back to Lori's. Katya had received a text notification that her flight at 5:25 p.m. was delayed an hour, which only gave her 10 minutes to make a connection in Charlotte. Luckily, I was able to change her routing and get her home via Dallas/Ft. Worth on a flight leaving at 5 p.m. and I still had enough time to drive her to Washington National airport by 4 p.m. 

That evening, Lori and I were joined by Mary (whom I had never met), who is visiting with her daughter Zofi (whom I have know for several years) from Vietnam. With champagne, cheese and crackers and a salad using delicious ingredients from Lori's garden, we passed several hours in lively conversation. They are both single and dating, so there was plenty of "girl" talk.

The next morning, I drove to Annapolis so that the body shop that will be repairing the damage to Peter's car could take photos and make and estimate for the insurance company. We will leave the car at this shop when we depart the east coast next Tuesday by plane, and Peter will pick it up when he returns in late September or early October to spend a month working on the boat. 

Peter has been sick for the last couple of days with a sinus infection, so he probably was not as productive as usual during the two days I was gallivanting around Washington. Several family members have post-vacation colds and illnesses and he is among the afflicted. Although it is unlikely COVID, he is getting a test tomorrow. 

He continues to work on the autopilot and other projects. Yesterday, I sewed the gaping seams in the cushions for the navigation table seat, a task that should have been done long ago. This morning, wind conditions allowed us to remove the genoa (headsail) and that and the main are now stored in the boatyard's sail loft. I have washed the cushion covers for the pilot house seats and will be doing some minor sewing repairs later today. 

Our short summer of sailing has winded down. On Friday, Mantra will be hauled to spend another fall and winter on the hard. Next year we have plans to cover hundreds of miles of water and explore new places, including Maine, Nova Scotia and possibly Greenland, Iceland, Scotland, England, the Atlantic coasts of France, Spain and Portugal and finally the Med. 

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Beach Hiatus

Katya, Peter and I left the boatyard at Oxford yesterday beach, and now we are at the beach in Ocean City, Maryland, with my large family as well as Lori, her kids and their friends. This blog will be on hiatus until next Saturday!

Friday, July 16, 2021

Back in Oxford after a Brief Stay in Washington

While Peter and Katya were forced to motor all the way from Solomons to Oxford yesterday (Thursday, July 15) and then suffer in the heat and humidity of the Chesapeake after docking, I thoroughly enjoyed another day in Washington, D.C. Eager to have more cultural experiences, I was up by 7:30, and, after spending some time with Lori at home, was out the door well before 9 a.m. I walked a few blocks in her neighborhood of Glover Park and caught the convenient DC Circulator bus, which is currently free, to downtown, alighting at 7th Avenue NW and I Street. I passed the entrance to Chinatown and walked toward the Mall on 7th. This street used to be lined with shops, restaurants and bars, but it seemed that over half the storefronts were permanently closed up. Usually bustling with government and other workers on their way to work and tourists getting out early, the sidewalks were not crowded at all, and the majority of those I saw were either street people or people out for a run. I walked by the National Archives and the National Gallery of Art to emerge on the Mall, finding it also virtually deserted. Running my gaze from the Capitol at one end to the Washington Monument on the other, I saw not a single person on the grass, and there were only a handful of people on the paths. By that time of day, the lawn is usually swarming with people; tour buses are usually parked all along the Mall on Constitution and Independence Avenues, but there were none at all. 

The empty Mall toward the U.S. Capitol

The empty Mall looking toward the Washington Monument

Some but not all of the Smithsonian museums have reopened with a reduced schedule, and free timed passes have to be obtained in advance on the Internet for admission. The more popular ones such and the Museum of Natural History and the Museum of American History, had no passes available through the end of August. The National Gallery of Art, which is not part of the Smithsonian, is now open regular hours and no passes are required, so that was my destination. I don't mean to imply that I settled for that, because I absolutely love the museum. 

The rotunda of the National Gallery of Art with no visitors in view 

Visiting the National Gallery of Art allows me to stroll through the history of Western Art, beginning with 13th century Italian painting and sculpture. Every time I visit this museum, I fondly remember Dr. Henry Wolf, my college art history professor. At some times a crotchety old man in the offices of the Department of Humanities, where I worked part-time, he was passionate about art and culture in the classroom. He was well-traveled, well-educated, well-read, and he was an accomplished classical pianist whose free concerts in the campus auditorium were unfortunately not well-attended by the student body. He ignited my desire to travel and observe and experience the cultures of the world. 

Being at the National Gallery also revived my appreciation for industrialists of the 19th and early 20th century who took advantage of their great wealth to amass astounding collections of art from around the world and then chose to share their collections with the public. In Baltimore, this was William Walters and more importantly his son Henry, who donated not only the family collection but facilities and funds to make great art from throughout the world available to the public for free. Two days ago, I experienced this largesse at the Phillips Collection. Yesterday, I silently recognized the generosity of Paul Mellon, who created the National Gallery, as well as numerous donors of significant works of art on display there. 

I spent three hours at the museum. The collection is arranged in a very orderly fashion by centuries and countries of origin, and the building is designed so that, starting with Gallery 1, it is possible to follow the development of techniques and styles and subject matter over the ages. There are approximately 100 exhibit rooms on the main floor, and I made it through 50, remembering previously learned art history lessons and appreciating the beauty of each work of art anew. From early Italian art, I strolled through 15th through 18 century Italian, French and Spanish art; 15th and 16th Netherlandish and German art; and 17th century Dutch and Fleming painting. All the famous artists are represented at the National Gallery, including Leonardo da Vinci. His Ginervra de' Benci is the only painting by the artist in the U.S.

I could have spent all day--or maybe two days!--at the National Gallery, but Lori and I had plans for later in the afternoon, a visit to the Washington National Cathedral to see a temporary art installation entitled Les Colombes (The White Doves). German artist Michael Pendry has created an arrangement of over 2000 origami doves which were hand-folded by people around the world. They hang in a wavy line along the Gothic nave. Since 2015, this installation has appeared in Jerusalem, London, Salisbury, San Francsisco and New York as a message of hope, peace and freedom. The entire art piece seems like a flock of birds flying overhead; the visual effect is complemented by continuous mystical music.

Les Colombes

Gothic architecture of the National Cathedral

Sherri and Lori in the National Cathedral

Sunlight streaming through a window in an array of colors

Clerestory windows

Les Colombes  and windows

The installation was inspiring but did not require a long visit. Since we were already in the cathedral and had time to spare, Lori and I took the opportunity to explore memorial niches and look at each and every stained glass window, from the three rose windows to the large clerestory windows and the lower ones between the soaring vaults. In addition to admiring the sheer beauty, vibrant colors and luminosity of the windows, we took the time to examine the symbolism in some of them and wonder at all we do not know about them. We discovered that the only U.S. President to be buried in Washington, D.C., Woodrow Wilson, is interred here and read the (hard to read) gothic style texts of memorial niches of church benefactors and public figures. It was interesting to discover how the interior of the cathedral is always being modified and to notice the differences in color of stone between old sections and newer ones. We were delighted to find a statue of Eleanor Roosevelt nestled in Human Rights Porch. The more slowly we walked and pivoted our gazes, the more was revealed to us. 

After our time in the Cathedral, we walked in the nearby Bishop's Garden, which tumbles down the hillside from the church. Along the winding paths are various types of greenery and stunning flowers in bloom. 

National Cathedral from the Bishop's Garden

Orange gladiola

pond in the Bishop's Garden

Bishop's Garden

After dinner at Lori's house, I left and drove to steamy Oxford, where the temperature, even late in the evening, was in the 80s and the humidity was in the 90s and the wind from the south was negligible. Unfortunately, the generator needed work, but, fortunately, Peter figured out how to us shore power for the AC even though the electrical systems on the boat are European, not American. 

Earlier today, Katya and I drove into Easton. We walked around part of the old commercial section of the city where we found a new, airy and delightful independent bookstore where we were able to find a couple of books for birthday presents. By the time we returned to Oxford Boatyard, Peter, the genius, had repaired the generator and the AC was functioning, although it struggled to get the interior temperature even as low as 80. We have enjoyed the swimming pool and the nice showers and are now staying out of the heat, all attached to devices in the air-conditioned lounge.

This evening, we will go to dinner a the William Morris Inn, a couple blocks away. It will be interesting to learn more (I hope) about the history of this place that has been in operation since 1710 (making it quite old by American standards).

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Land Detour to Washington, D.C.

Yesterday (July 13), we pulled up anchor and headed down the Potomac, out past Smith Point into the Chesapeake. It was another great day for sailing, and we enjoyed the wind on an otherwise hot and humid day. We anchored on the Great Wicomico near the home of our friends Mick and Christine, tidied up the boat and got ready for them to join us for drinks (which they generously provided!) and snacks. The breeze was negligible and the humidity was still high. With sweat beading our faces, I suggested a retreat to the air-conditioning down below, and no one objected. As always, we enjoyed visiting with them.

This morning, Mick picked me up at 8:30 in their launch and transported me to their dock. We climbed the hill to their lovely home, and I took off in Peter's Tesla, which they had been kind enough to keep for a month. I am driving to Oxford, Maryland, while Peter and Katya are sailing there. Since it's less than a five hour drive but a two day sail, I have stopped in Washington, D.C., to visit my good friend Lori Shoemaker. This afternoon, we enjoyed a visit to the Phillips Collection, and this evening we walked over to Wisconsin Avenue to buy pho for dinner, which we brought back to the house in Glover Park. Due to the pandemic, it has been over two years since I have seen Lori, and while we have spent hours watching films streaming online and discussing them afterwards over the last year, getting together virtually is just not the same as being together in person. 

Tomorrow morning, I will do some sightseeing, and in the afternoon, Lori and I plan to go to the National Cathedral to see "Les Colombes" (The Doves), a cascading exhibit of over 2000 pieces of origami before I drive to Oxford.

Peter and Katya, unfortunately, had to do a lot of motoring today. When the wind finally picked up in the afternoon, they still had to use the engine because thunderstorms were approaching. They safely anchored on Mill Creek before the rain began.

Heavy rain on Mill Creek at Solomons, MD

Monday, July 12, 2021

St. Leonard's Creek and Mill Creek at Solomons, MD, and the Glebe on the Coan River, VA

Sunday, July 11, was a hot day, and Katya and I stayed below decks reading, coloring mandalas and playing a card game called Quiddler while Peter checked all the spare belts, measuring them, checking whether they were still good and cataloguing them on our inventory of parts. He was down in the engine room a lot and got very hot, sweaty and filthy while Katya were just hot and sweaty. He had said this job would probably take all morning; in fact, it took several hours of the afternoon also. 

It spit rain a couple of times. We'd jump up and close the hatches and it stopped before we had done them all. Then we had to open them again to get some minimal circulation. After this occurred a few times, we did not take the rain seriously and were not quick enough to get everything dogged down when a sudden downpour had us scampering around. It took all of our sopping-up towels to deal with the water down below. Unfortunately, Katya did not think to close her outer hatch, so her bed linens and pajamas got wet. 

Just before 5 p.m., with sunshine and no mitigation in the humidity from the rain, we pulled up anchor and motored out of St. Leonard's Creek and down the Patuxent, to Mill Creek at Solomons. I had noticed that we were reaching a critical point in our supply of Diet Coke as well as beer, so we launched the dingy and headed to town. All the way at the end of Back Creek, we found a dinghy dock close to where I knew the 7-11 was located. We considered looking for a restaurant in the area also, but I was not enchanted with the choices--a restaurant in a Holiday Inn and a restaurant specializing in ribs, neither of which had any atmosphere. Rather than walk to the end of a long strip mall to the 7-11, we bought provisions at a closer gas station and then dinghied back down the creek to find a waterfront restaurant. We went to the first one we saw that was lit up and had a dinghy dock. It turned out the Lighthouse Restaurant and Dockbar was just what we were looking for! There were even vegetarian selections on the menu. We enjoyed a tasty meal on the deck. 

The setting of the sun had not caused in significant cooling, so we had to use the AC before it was comfortable enough to sleep. 

The pirate flag, which Katya brought from the house, flies again! It attracts the attention of small children on other cruising boats. Luckily, the Navy did not notice it. (We will not discuss Peter's paranoia.)

Mantra's pirate flag

Katya at the winch

Around 11 a.m this morning, we pulled up anchor and headed out onto the Chesapeake. With 12 to 15 knot winds from the southwest, we were able to sail close-hauled for about 8 hours, covering about 45 miles in total while tacking along our route to the Glebe on the Coan River off the southern shore of the Potomac near the mouth. Most of the time, Mantra, without the use of the autopilot, just steered herself by the wind. This allowed to watch out for the occasional dolphin hopping up by the hull.

This is a less developed place than our most recent anchorages, without mansions and manicured lawns along the waterfront. No one else is anchored here. In fact, we saw only a few other boats sailing on the bay today despite the excellent conditions. 

It will be time for the AC again soon!

After sunset on the Glebe

Sunday, July 11, 2021

A Day with Dolphins

We were underway for 12 hours yesterday, July 10, pulling up anchor in Eagle Cove around 7 a.m. and dropping the hook on wide St. Leonard's Creek off the Patuxent River around 7:30 p.m. The wind was never above 10 knots from the northwest, so we finally pulled out our colorful spinnaker and used it on and off as the angle of the wind allowed, trying to use the engine as little as possible. Although thin cirrus clouds were scattered from horizon to horizon, there was plenty of blue sky and the sunshine was warm and welcome after a few days of gray and rain in Baltimore. Numerous sightings of frisking, frolicking dolphins, with their wet, sleek forms gleaming in the sunlight, made the day special.

Spinnaker flying under light winds

Katya pitched in with trimming the sails and keeping the log, but she has declared that the sailing life is not for her.