Wednesday, May 31, 2017

And The Fun Never Ends

Soooooooo, when we were coming up the Chesapeake towards Washington DC, the dripless shaft seal wasn't dripping, it was gushing! A little disconcerting to say the least, but we lowered our RPMs, adjusted our heading, checked the bilges more often, and continued on our way.

We found a yard that allows DIYers and we hauled out yesterday here at the Dennis Point Marina & Campground. It's in a lovely, quiet spot on the St. Mary's River, far from the big city. The view from our cockpit is idyllic. The staff is laid back, yet friendly and helpful. Folks come here to relax, camp, fish, and maybe do a little crabbing.

We come here to work.
First we removed the propeller. 
And the propeller hub.
Then this flange thing.
And finally the shaft.
And the cutless bearing.

All to get to the leaky shaft seal you saw in the first photo.

It has taken us 8 hours to get this far. Now to decide which type of shaft seal will fit (dripless again, or traditional), order the new parts, and re-install everything. And paint the bottom again and install new anodes.

I'm telling you, the fun never ends here on Thistle!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day Weekend at Cobb Island

We ducked in behind Cobb Island on Friday afternoon after another uneventful trip down the Potomac River. We figured we'd stay a couple of nights because our haulout was set for Tuesday morning, and it was only another 20 miles from there.

After we anchored we putted into town in our dinghy, tied up at the launch ramp, and got to talking with a couple who were just coming in from their crab traps. They had several bushel baskets full of crabs; most destined for the restaurant not 100 yards away. They also recommended that we come back Sunday night for live music out on the lawn behind the restaurant.

Cobb Island is a small community that started out as summer homes, but now has a permanent population of hardy souls. There is a little market, a post office, a pizza place, a few shops, the restaurant, a bait shop, the launch ramp, marinas, and boats and crab pots everywhere.

So we did go into town Sunday evening and joined the locals for an interesting evening. The band was a full on Motown-type group; three guitars, drums, percussion, keyboard, sax, trumpet, and two vocalists. And they were pretty good! We (and all the other oldies in the audience) knew all the songs by heart. Everyone was drinking, laughing, singing along, dancing, playing cornhole, and just having a great time. It was small town America at its best. And what a great place to celebrate Memorial Day.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Ghost Fleet at Mallows Bay

About 30 miles downriver from Washington DC, there is a little bay that holds an intriguing bit of history. During World War I merchant cargo ships were being built at a frantic pace to help with the war effort. Unfortunately, these hastily built ships were made of wood and obsolete the minute they were built.

The war ended before many of them were even delivered and no one knew what to do with them. Eventually they were sold for scrap. The scrap company hauled them here, stripped them of valuable items, and burned many of them. This salvage company went bankrupt during the Depression and most of the ships sat abandoned until they sank.

Today the north end of Mallows Bay is littered with sunken hulks. Wednesday we anchored nearby, and this morning we rode the dinghy over to check them out.

The most recent wreck is the S.S. Accomac, a Chesapeake Bay ferry in service until 1964. We spotted a big osprey nest there on the port stern.
Some of the oldest boats have collected enough dirt over the years to support vegetation. Shrubs and even trees are growing on them.

Looking at this Google image, you can see several of the "flower pot" ships against the shore, and several ships underwater too.

If you'd like to read more about these ships you can use this link to a CNN article.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Mount Vernon

Yesterday, three hours after leaving Washington DC, we anchored below Mount Vernon. This morning we took our dinghy to their wharf, checked in with the dockmaster, and toured the estate.
The estate has been owned by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association since 1858. They accept no government funding and maintain and operate the estate through ticket sales and private donations.

Lucky for us, we were on a tour with several school groups and photography was encouraged; normally it's not allowed. We were surprised at the bright colors used on the walls, but the docent explained that the home has been accurately restored to how it would have been at the time of Washington's death in 1799.
And after a little Googling of the Federal style of decor, I learned that these bright colors were all the rage.

There is also a museum on the property with a great display of Washington's history from childhood to old age.

The museum contains three wax figures of him at various ages that have been painstakingly researched and created using original portraits, busts, and his actual clothing.
Shown here at the Federal Building in New York City, Washington is taking the oath of office to become President at age 57.

And the museum also contains his teeth, which were not wood, but human and cow, and set in metal. What a horrible thing to have to deal with every day! No wonder he didn't smile for portraits.

This visit to Mount Vernon is our last official Washington DC highlight. We have had a GREAT time in DC, and would highly recommend visiting, especially if you can go by boat. The moorings are inexpensive, close to all the museums, and close to a grocery store. The museums are top notch, free, and hold the historical treasures of our country. The art collections here are world class and beautifully displayed in architecturally stunning buildings. And where else can you anchor in the President's backyard?

Monday, May 22, 2017

National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery is a repository of some of our nation's most famous works of art, like this portrait of Benjamin Franklin. In fact, all the Presidents' portraits are there.

It is also home to many other works of art like this huge Bierstadt landscape. Our hometown museum, the Haggin Museum, has several Bierstadt landscapes and I like him, but let's just say he took lots of liberties with reality.

These peaceful halls also house photos, sculpture, Shaker furniture, and sketches, like this self portrait by Katherine Hepburn. Who knew she was an artist?

My daughter's cat's opposite is even there.

These beautiful hallways were originally built for the Patent Office in 1836, and have seen many of our Nation's most famous shakers and movers.

After the Portrait Gallery we visited the Naval Heritage Building where we saw this cool bronze sculpture,
and this eerie stained glass panel of a sub threading it's way between mines.

I think we have visited everything we wanted to here in DC, plus we've done some maintenance; changed the engine oil, changed the impeller, changed the transmission fluid, all the fuel filters, cleaned sea strainers, and replaced a bilge pump switch. This stuff never ends, but it's so boring we rarely mention it.

Tomorrow we'll load up with groceries and head back to the Chesapeake where we will sample blue crab. Join us, won't you?

Sunday, May 21, 2017

More Fabulous Architecture

Smithsonian Castle, Gothic with Romanesque Revival, 1855

Eisenhower Executive Office Building, second Empire Style

Treasury Building, Neoclassical, 1836-1869

National Savings and Trust Company, Queen Anne Style, 1888

Woodward and Lothrop Building, Gilded Age, 1902

National Portrait Gallery, Greek Revival, 1836-1842

National Archives

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Hirshhorn Museum and Freer/Sackler Gallery

The Hirshhorn Museum's signature piece is this huge hyper-realistic sculpture by Ron Mueck. What a cool introduction to their collection of modern art.

Fernand L├ęger's "Nude on a Red Background" was probably one of the few pieces I really liked.

I'll be the first to admit I don't always get modern art. For instance, this piece, which appears to be two sculpted busts; one perhaps bronze, and one perhaps marble; is actually two molded busts; one chocolate and one soap. The artist then licked the chocolate one and bathed with the soap one to obscure their features.


Then there's this one that perhaps is telling us to shove all that old classic art in a closet and forget about it.

And this piece reminds me that a woman's work is never done. No matter how perfect she is.

If you get confused about modern art, you can always read this to help sort it out.
Yeah, whatever....

We also visited the Freer/Sackler Gallery today. They have an interesting exhibition about a Japanese artist named Kitagawa Utamaro. Three of his huge scrolls are displayed together there for the first time in decades.
This first piece, called "Cherry Blossoms at Yoshikawa" was documented to be in Paris in the 1880s. It was purchased by a French collector, and in 1957 by Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Boston.

The second piece, "Moon at Shinagawa", was also in Paris in the 1880s and was purchased by Charles Lang Freer in 1903.
The third piece, "Snow at Fukagawa", remained in Paris for years. It was purchased in 1948 and returned to Japan where it was on display at a department store for three days. Then it just disappeared! And just as mysteriously, it was rediscovered by the Okada Museum in 2014 and the Freer/Sackler Gallery conceived and implemented this wonderful exhibition.

National Museum of Natural History

Frankly, this museum was a bit of a disappointment. Could it have been the weird colored lights, corrugated steel and cyclone fence backdrops (all of which I have edited out) in the dinosaur hall? Or could it have been the bare, modernized exhibits in the Hall of Mammals where the jungle animals are hanging from stainless steel pipes? Or could it have been the hundreds of middle-school-aged visitors with their running, shouting, and rude behavior?

Probably a little of both.

Here is an example of the modernization. This elephant used to be displayed on a realistic, landscaped mound which helped to draw the visitor into its environment. Now it crowns a smaller stripped-down platform which the museum "reimagined" back in 2015. 

They even bragged about it on their website. I'll let you judge for yourself, but I guess I'm old-fashioned because I prefer the diorama effect.

In the Gems and Minerals Exhibit I learned that we had sailed right by the source of much of the sandstone used to build the White House and the Capitol. Up the Aquia Creek, less than 40 miles from here, is the quarry where that sandstone was obtained. Because it is soft and prone to erosion, it is no longer used outdoors and the quarry (now called Government Island) is a nature park.

I also enjoyed seeing the gemstones including the famous Hope Diamond. Which is impossible to photograph. (See paragraph one)

So I guess I'm turning into a grouchy old lady, aren't I? Complaining about noisy kids and modernized exhibits. Yearning for the old days when children were quiet, natural history museums were realistic, and my knees didn't complain about stairs....