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The eponymous Mellimac - a Short Trip from Long Cove

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“A spouse who will go camping on a boat with you is worth her weight in gold.”

             - Brian Forsyth



     We arrived at the ramp just before sunset, and I was nervous. My previous two overnight cruises were trial and error, with lots of little mistakes, lots of learning. But this cruise was special. This cruise would be the first for my wife Melanie, and I wanted her to enjoy it. This Spring Cruise was the big show, the final exam. Or at least that’s what I thought.


     When I asked her to marry me, I was pretty sure she would say “Yes,” but I had doubts she would put up with the little discomforts of sharing a 15 foot dinghy. There was nothing about that in the vows. Even the “for better or for worse” clause doesn’t cover sleeping in a dinghy. Husbands doing dumb stuff are on their own.


     "What about bugs?” she asked.


     “Oh sure, there are mosquitoes, but the tent has netting.” I didn’t mention that I had been repeatedly pierced by Maryland’s most ferocious, wild, man-eating animal on the previous trips.


     What if there’s a thunderstorm?”


     “We just anchor in a little cove where the trees will protect us from wind and the land will protect us from waves, and we wait it out. If there’s a big storm in the forecast, we go home.” But what if the trees fall on us, I wondered, or if the tent blows off? Or lightning? Lots of stuff to worry about.


     Then she asked the Big Question.


     Are there places where we can stop to go to the bathroom?”


     Oh crap. “Oh, sure. There are a few places. Here and there… Maybe a porta-potty at the ramp… maybe… Not really, no. Not any.”


     “But check this out!” I showed off my custom-built, wag-bag-based, okume and epoxy, personal comfort and hygiene facility with an understated modern design and natural wood grain finish to delight both the modern boater and generations to come.


     “Won’t that be great?”


     My customer made a funny face – the one with the pursed lips and the wrinkled up nose – and said “Hmm.”


     Sensing defeat, I deftly changed the subject. “You know, there’s a pizza place in Queenstown that we might sail to if the wind is right.” Genius.


     So after struggling through DC’s rush hour traffic and a brief delay at the Bay Bridge, we arrived at the ramp, I hustled through the rigging, and we launched as the sun disappeared over the horizon. I had picked out Deep Cove as a possible anchoring site about a mile away, and we sailed, then rowed into the cove as the last light lingered in the western sky. Melanie loved it. I set up the boom tent, turning our boat into a bedroom. Melanie loved that, too. “It’s like a popup camper on the water!” Melanie slept well, woke up smiling, and she was still smiling later. I didn’t sleep much.


     Our breakfast of oatmeal and coffee was rocked by an enormous wake that burst through the narrow entrance to Deep Cove. For the sake of objective reporting, I should mention the possibility that maybe I just lost my balance a little, but that report has not been confirmed. A little later, as we sailed out into Langford Creek, we caught sight of Norm Wolfe’s tanbark lug rig and green hull making haste to the ramp. We gave chase, but we weren’t able to catch him. I think it was probably Norm’s wake that I had felt earlier. Or did I imagine that? Like I said, I didn’t get much sleep.


     We sailed across to Town point at the mouth of the Corsica river, stopping to chat a little with Mark and Ed in their Dovekies. In 2016, when the US kicked the Russians out of their compound at Town Point near Centreville, I was hooked. I have read enough Tom Clancy novels to have a really vivid imagination about the shady activities that would take place in such a shady facility. When I found the place on Google Maps’ satellite view I noticed two things. First, a lot of trees – definitely shady. Second, it was on the shore, with a view of the water. I felt immediately that it was my patriotic duty to sail by in my little wooden boat and make some intimidating display of defiance. Maybe dump out a bottle of vodka or some caviar to show contempt. But no, that wouldn’t be right. I was raised by a couple of recovering depression-era farm kids, so no, that plan would be too wasteful. Maybe I’d make some rude gestures, or maybe I’d even moon them. Haw Haw Haw. The sixth-grader in me liked that plan. Economical, too.




     When the time came for decisive action, we were anchored 100 yards or so off shore from the red brick mansion of the former Russian compound, and the adult in me had regained control. We were rafted up with Brian Forsyth sharing a little lunch and enjoying a good chat, so I was in polite company, and I refrained from rude gestures. Anyways, the Russians were long gone, and the State Department employees that keep the place now don’t deserve any grief from me.


     The water turned glassy smooth as the forecast turned rough. I rowed a little and then we sailed a way up Langford Creek on occasional puffs. When the wind filled in a little, Melanie took the helm and sailed on a reach back to the ramp with enough speed to make Mellimac chuckle and splash through the water. Later, Melanie said that “sailing fast” was one of her favorite parts of the trip. We cranked Mellimac back up on her trailer, cutting our trip one night short to avoid the incoming weather.


     On the road home, we stopped in at the Queenstown Pizzeria. For future reference, there’s free docking on the end of the Queenstown dock, and the Pizzeria is about 4 blocks away. Good pizza. By land, there’s room for a couple of vehicle & trailer rigs at in the Queenstown Commisioner’s office across the street.


Melanie drove the car, Mellimac trailed obediently behind, and I slipped in and out of awareness in the passenger seat.


     “We didn’t need reservations or anything, did we?”




    “So we could just – go? Anytime?”


    “Uh huh.”


    “When can we go again?”



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Great story---thanks!

“A spouse who will go camping on a boat with you is worth her weight in gold.”  I wouldn't know. Mine has never gone overnight with me in the 40 years we've been married. She loves camping in our pull behind. But we gotta have full hook-ups. And A/C during the summer. And a clean shower house.

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