Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Capital Yacht Club

After a trip to the public library and a few shopping-related errands, Eric and I raised anchor on Saturday morning and motored on down to the Capital Yacht Club near the 14th Street Bridge in Washington, DC.

This is a noisy spot with an airport nearby, road traffic and trains overhead, low-flying helicopters, and tour boats turning around right next to us but it's a good change of pace and quite convenient to the Metro.

For a reasonable $15 a night, we can anchor out and dinghy in to the air-conditioned Club House that offers bar service in the evening, showers (including hair dryers and an iron), laundry facilities, and Internet access. The best part, however, is the crowd ... real transients who are living the life and always willing to chat. This weekend we met Martin from Switzerland who had arrived moments earlier and was looking for a place to take English classes. We went aboard a beautiful custom-built Pacific Seacraft and spent a few hours talking to a man from Texas, and Eric met a woman who has the ability to make new sun covers for us. That should help a little with the DC heat that has already started to descend down upon us.

Monday, May 30, 2011


Eric and I started the Memorial Day weekend at Belle Haven, our normal Friday night meeting place. We were pleasantly surprised that evening when the "National Monstrosity" hosted a fireworks display, an event that seemed - from our side of the river - to be held solely for our own benefit.

The National Harbor is located directly across the Potomac River from our anchorage in Belle Haven and it lights up like an obscene Christmas tree at night. While the NH professes to be a marina, it is in fact a tourist attraction for land people with non-boat-related shops on shore, water taxi tours into DC, and a large convention center on site that hosts out-of-town visitors. While marine life does exist, it seems to be there for ambiance only.

A month or so ago, we called over to the NH to inquire about prices. We wanted to invite our families out to see the boat and thought it might make a good meeting place, a general location where everyone could come and go as they please. As we found out, the NH requires a reservation (even though they're relatively empty) and the cost per night is a cool $100 minimum. How pretentious is that! And what a shame that such a good idea turned out to be such a sterile contrived Disney Land ... but, in spite of the huge FAIL, they do a few things right, and the fireworks display was one of them.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Study in Scarlet (1887)

Sherlock Holmes is a consulting detective, a man outside of the police force system, who uses logic, intellect, and close observation to solve the crime at hand. While Miss Marple and Avery Baker (both mentioned earlier) use gossip and eavesdropping to solve their mystery, this eccentric 19th century detective relies on scientific reasoning to bring his investigation to a close.

Sherlock Homes first appears in literature during the Industrial Age at a time when people were concerned about containing crime and maintaining order. His legacy is far reaching. He is said to have inspired and influenced the future of all literary detectives, including those we watch today on television in shows like CSI.

A Study in Scarlet, published in 1887, is presented in two parts, the first taking place in Victorian England after the body is found and the second in the American West where the transgression unfolds. In London, the sense of mystery is increased by Watson's curiosity about Sherlock Holmes but it is the action in Salt Lake City that moves the story along to its exciting conclusion.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle creates an outstanding visual painting of the American West. He gives his text a great sense of open space juxtaposed against the smallness of his characters in a vulnerable landscape where protection is paramount. I quickly sympathized with the character Lucy and was concerned about her safety. While I enjoyed part one of 'A Study in Scarlet,' I approached it as I would a required reading. Part two, however, was like a good old fashioned Western with a lot of adventure and drama. I couldn't put the book down until the story was finished.

Genre: Crime Fiction
Sub-category: Early Detective Fiction

  • The brilliant investigating detective, introduced earlier with Poe's Dupin, is further developed in Sherlock Holmes and the genre becomes one still produced and read today.
  • The less intelligent assistant narrates the story.
  • The police force does not have the skill set necessary to solve the crime.
  • The solution is presented before the reasoning that leads up to it. The reader is not given the clues necessary to solve the crime. Sherlock Holmes awes his audience with the solution using information only he has been able to uncover.
  • The two-story structure, the crime itself and the investigation following, becomes a common literary framework for crime fiction. While a loss of order is introduced in the first, it is almost always restored in the second.
To find on amazon: A Study in Scarlet

Friday, May 13, 2011


Jason's and my latest project to be used on t-shirts, name tags, an invitation, and agenda for an international conference being held in Washington, D.C. this June.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Lessons in How to Save a 'Boat Marriage'

Eric and I have been living on the boat ... Eric more than myself, but pretty much full time now on the weekends. It's a great life in the open air but with a 20-minute row first thing in the morning and then a 15-minute walk to Dunkin Donuts for coffee, we were both, how shall I say, extremely grumpy.

But then, the Little Cod arrived. What a beautiful thing this stove has turned out to be. Hot coffee in the morning, pasta with pesto later on in the day, and then a little lemon cake and hot tea for a Mother's Day celebration this afternoon. It makes the lack of a real shower a whole lot more bearable.

I think I am in love.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Belle Haven

This past Easter Week, Eric and Cody brought the boat up the Potomac River from Lewisetta to our hailing port in Alexandria, Virginia. It was a few days of solid motoring and only one delay that required engine repair. (We will start actual sailing this summer.)

Clementine is now anchored at Belle Haven, an easy-going marina that offers sail boat rentals and a bike path along the wildlife preserve called Dyke Marsh. The photo on the left is a bird's nest close to our boat. The one on the right is my favorite flying scot. It's happily painted with the American flag, fish symbols, and bright colors.

It was a lovely four-day weekend living on the boat. We watched the Georgetown University crew slide by at dawn and waved at fishermen in the early morning. Eric rode the dinghy out for water depth checks and we lamented our absent neighbor John.

At one point we had a little excitement. We watched one of the rentals overturn. The occupants toppled out into the chilly water and Chip, Belle Haven's dock master, zoomed out in his power boat to rescue them. After they were safely in their cars, Chip managed to raise the mast and pull the boat back to shore. Unfortunately, we did not catch on camera his little "this is how we do it" dance. :-)

But, in addition to close-up entertainment, quiet moments relaxing in the open air, the weekend included frequent anchor checks, 20-minute rows to shore, long walks for supplies, and hard work sanding.

I can't wait to do it again this weekend.