National Geographic : 1958 Jan
The National Geographic Magazine of colonial days: Duke of Gloucester, Prince George, Compromise, Cornhill, Shipwright. Long navy-blue rain cloaks made the ramrod straight midshipmen appear to be gliding along on casters. Under the tall octagonal dome and cupola of the Maryland State House, we visited the Old Senate Chamber. Meeting in this room on December 23, 1783, the new Congress of the United States received George Washing ton's resignation as commander in chief of the Continental Army. A few weeks later, in this same chamber, Congress ratified the treaty of peace with Great Britain that offi cially ended the Revolutionary War. Anchors Aweigh at Last One morning the warning flags were miss ing, and white clouds raced across the bluest of skies. Tradewinds was doing a sort of pixie dance at her berth. "I think she wants to go," said Dorothea. We checked gear and stowed the last of our supplies. As whitecaps sparkled in the morn ing sunlight, we sailed out into the Severn River. A fleet of Naval Academy yawls stood out ahead of us. Their crews, we knew, were future officers learning the ways of the sea as they should be learned-in sail (page 2). When we cleared the river mouth, we found the bay still boisterous. Short, steep seas sent icy salt spray flying over us. Green water broke across the bow, swirled aft along the deck, and gurgled out through the scuppers. A brisk wind honed the 400 temperature to a razor edge. The wind was out of the southwest-dead ahead-and rising steadily. This meant no sailing, if we were to make the 45 miles to Solomons, Maryland, before nightfall; so we furled our 750 square feet of canvas and the 61-horsepower engine settled down to the first of many daylong stints. For the initial 140 miles we would be sail ing the broad waters of Chesapeake Bay, that great inland sea stretching from the Virginia Capes to the Susquehanna River. On pre vious sorties out of Annapolis we had ven tured north to Baltimore and the Sassafras River and south to the Patuxent. On the Eastern Shore we had explored long, winding streams with Indian and English names: Choptank, Chester, Miles, Wye, Tred Avon. Now we were hugging the western shore, and before us lay unknown waters. That first blustering day we made slow progress. By midafternoon we had clawed our way southward a mere 15 miles, and the prospect of reaching Solomons before dark seemed slight. Sheltering for the night seemed the most sensible procedure. Reversing course, we headed for the broad bay formed by the South, West, and Rhode Rivers-a beautiful expanse of water well known to Dorothea and me. At dusk we dropped anchor at the snug little seafood packing and boatbuilding port of Galesville. Below deck, while Dorothea cooked dinner, Joe-a notorious landlubber-studied a nauti cal chart and a road map. "Look!" he exclaimed incredulously. "After all that battering, we're just about 10 land miles from Annapolis! Next time I'll walk!" With morning the Chesapeake was its usual calm, charming self. We headed south, cruis ing so close inshore we could recognize such places along the tall Cliffs of Calvert as Scien tists Cliffs, where we had often wandered in search of fossilized sharks' teeth and other relics of the Miocene Age. Science Attacks Stinging Jellyfish Solomons, an island village near the mouth of the Patuxent, enjoys huge popularity as a sport-fishing center. Most villagers earn their living fishing, oystering, and crabbing. Solomons also shelters the Chesapeake Bio logical Laboratory, a Maryland agency dedi cated to improving and conserving fish and wildlife resources. When we visited the lab oratory, we found researchers hard at work seeking ways to control the stinging jellyfish called sea nettles (page 8). In common with all who frequent the bay, we have a personal interest in sea nettles. Millions of these pests infest the bay in summer and take the joy out of swimming. Many a time, diving off Tradewinds, we have Maryland's 186-year-old State House Rises Above Annapolis RooftopF Modern city in a colonial setting, Annapolis has served as Maryland's capital since 1694. The Continental Congress held sessions in the wooden-domed State House at the close of the Revolution. There, on December 23, 1783, George Washington resigned his com mission as commander in chief of the Continental Army. St. John's College, one of the Nation's oldest educational institutions, makes its home in Annapolis. Maryland State flag (foreground) is based on Lord Baltimore's coat of arms. National Geographic Photographer Thomas J. Ahercromhie © N.G .S .