Labor Day Weekend, the unofficial end of summer is now off our stern and the first week of September is almost over already. The marina is quiet. Many folks are pulling their boats in preparation for the fall run down to warmer climes. Others will park them in the lot on boat stands and cover them for their winter sleep.
The Annapolis Boat show buzz is in full bore and seems like everyone we meet asks, “So… what’s your plan? Are you heading south? Are you staying for the boat show?” Sadly, we are not. After much back and forth we’ve decided to head south before the rush.
Since we are working from the boat, connectivity is key. We have a wifi ‘hot spot’ device that enables us to stay connected but only as long as the signal can reach a cell phone tower. For that reason, we’ll be doing the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway from Norfolk, VA. to Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
Do you know about this great thing in America known as the ICW? Check it out… The actual waterway goes from it’s unofficial Northern most point at Manasquan River, New Jersey (with Norfolk being it’s official start at mile marker 0.0), down through the Keys and around to Brownsville, TX. All together some 3,000 + miles. Most people in the United States have no clue this “Mariner’s Highway” even exists.
See… back in colonial times, the shipping hazards along the east coast were of great concern and the newly formed United States needed alternative travel routes for communication, commerce and defense. The geography of the Atlantic coast with it’s barrier islands and rivers provided incentive to develop such an alternate route for travel up and down the coast.
Around 1787 as new states developed, a new and radically different national policy was established to further develop the waterway and in 1807 at the request of the Senate, Treasury Secretary, Albert Gallatin presented an overall plan to develop and improve the waterway for future use. The $20 million plan was spread over 10 years but was never approved. However, the War of 1812 and the success of British blockades quickly highlighted the need for such a waterway.
In 1824 the United States Army Corps of Engineers was given control of the waterways construction and maintenance and eventually all four proposed sections of Gallatin’s plan were built. So there you go. A brief history lesson about the ICW and our route south. I’ve done portions of it twice and each time I’m mesmerized by it’s beauty. Bald Eagles, Black Bear, Osprey and many more sights to behold.
People sure do find a lot to complain about these days. The division within our political parties is disgraceful and an embarrassment to everything I think America stands for. That said, our founding fathers did some things well. Very well. And early presidents like Teddy Roosevelt saw value and great beauty in America’s landscape and fought hard to protect it by creating programs like the National Park System. President George Washington had a hand in the Intracoastal Waterway’s creation and many argued about it’s construction and viability back then as well.
Today, thousands upon thousands of people transit that waterway, spend their dollars on food, fuel and lodging and keep many of these small towns like Rock Hall afloat. I for one am thrilled beyond belief and happy to pay for it to remain. People sure find a lot to complain about these days… I’m not one of them.
Fall closes in rapidly now. the suns arch will be lower across the sky and the dew will run down the deck in rivulets and puddle before careening over the toe rails into the bay. We’ve fallen in love with Rock Hall and it’s residents, eateries, tricky harbors and beautiful little coves. And that’s why we have to leave. We pulled up roots so we could venture out and discover. Venture and Discover… Wanderlust tugs at my dock lines and it’s way past time to go. Unfortunately we have another hard destination and schedule to adhere to. But I will find a few precious moments to be Vacilando along the way. Chapter 2… Coming up. Be well friends.