Majestic Chesapeake

Lit by a brilliant moon, wisps of ground fog look like white fire. Dawn is less than thirty minutes away, and Canada geese are starting to honk over recently tilled fields. White-tailed deer could be seen from my mooring and one was hung upside down at a farm home along the way to Coan River Marina this morning.

The Chesapeake is majestic when the life within its watershed is in transition—be it day to night, season to season, or the graduated transitions from bay to river, river to creek, and creek to marsh. Fall to winter, though, is when the Chesapeake is truly at its best.

We’re just past peak colors now. Late fall is a season of comings and goings, feeding and assembling. Loons, cormorants, geese and ducks. Ospreys nest atop day markers and one left a squirrel head on my cockpit deck a couple days ago. Fishermen keep their eyes in their binoculars, looking for terns and gulls as, wherever they dive, there are schools of fish.

I’ve seen bobolinks, red-winged blackbirds, green and blue teals, mallards and wood ducks—and, this afternoon, while laying on a coat of varnish on hand rails and awaiting the delivery of a new three-step regulator, I looked toward the sound of the water surface breaking and there’s a muskrat looking up at me!

There has been much concern about the state of the Bay. Without question, there is a significant loss of water clarity compared to when I sailed the Bay as a boy. Many locals report there is real progress in restoring wetlands, marsh and forest, but the battle continues to be the imprint of too many nutrients and over development.