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August 25-27 - Solomons Lump Cruise
by Melissa Buckler

For the first time, the Chapter held a “triple play” of cruises of the lower Bay. What started as a one day only trip morphed into a full weekend of cruises due to the overwhelming response. We took the Jennifer-Ann out of Solomon’s and proceeded to cruise the bay enjoying fine weather, fine food, good times and good company. Friday and Saturday cruises left from the Calvert Marine Museum (CMM). Due to an event at the museum, Sunday’s cruisers left from the Lore Oyster House. Our intrepid crew of Captain Marenka and First Mate Weems were a phenomenal wealth of knowledge of the Bay and the area. The weather cooperated all three days so we were able to follow the same path across the bay. We cruised along the western side of the Chesapeake Bay and stopped briefly at the remains of the old 1896 Cedar Point Lighthouse off-shore from the Patuxent Naval Air Station. Only some bricks and several pilings remained of the short-lived lighthouse which fell victim to the encroaching bay. Bit by bit, the lighthouse was slowly “disassembled” – the lantern and cupola were removed in the 1980s and is on display at the Naval Air Test & Evaluation Museum in Lexington Park. Later, the roof, bricks and wooden sunbursts were taken down and delivered to the CMM. Finally, in October 1996, a barge and crane tore down the deteriorating shell. Today, a tall, thin radar tower marked the spot where the stately beacon once stood. Captain Charlie cranked up the engine and we continued our journey. Soon, we were at Point No Point Lighthouse, a caisson light built in 1904 using the pneumatic method. This construction process was similar to the conventional method, but included the installation of an air shaft through the concrete to allow workers access to the lower portions of the cylinder. The lighthouse was a near-twin to the Baltimore Lighthouse, located near the Magothy River, and was still in active service. Point No Point was recently made available for transfer or sale under the provisions of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act (NHLPA). After circling the beacon, we then “pulled anchor” and headed for the mouth of the Potomac River and Point Lookout Lighthouse, situated on a peninsula, at the southern tip of St. Mary’s County. A telephoto lens helped bring the “most haunted LH of the Chesapeake Bay” into full view and we could easily see the numerous buildings of the dormant (except for the ghosts) light station, including the naval tracking towers and several sheds. The house-type lighthouse was built by John Donahoo and had received a needed exterior face lift in the last few years. We continued south and crossed into Virginia waters to see another caisson – Smith Point. The beacon was built in 1897 and had replaced numerous lights, including a screwpile that was damaged and finally carried down the bay by ice floes. We circled the lighthouse and took photos of the still-active aid to navigation. Probably the most unusual event at the lighthouse was the discovery of termites in 1970 on the third floor. The Orkin Exterminating Company was called and eliminated the destructive pests. The LH was purchased by 3M Company executive Dave & Terri McNally in December, 2005 and they hope to restore the tower.

Drum Point Remains of Cedar Point Point No Point Point Lookout

Captain Marenka then turned his vessel to the north and we headed to Smith Island. We passed the Martin National Wildlife Refuge and racks of crabbing traps near the marina. We arrived a bit early at the Bayside Inn Restaurant, but we all enjoyed the very refreshing A/C and a sumptuous family style meal. We had about 30 minutes to spare and many walked around the small town of Ewell, called the “capital of Smith Island”. A few cruisers rented golf carts for a quick tour of the area and others visited the Smith Island Center which housed a small museum on the history and industry of the area. Most of the cruisers marveled at a display of a local delicacy – a unique ten-layer chocolate cake. Shortly, we were back on board the Jennifer-Ann and on our way to the “loneliest lighthouse on the bay”. The elusive and reclusive Solomons Lump Lighthouse was our prime destination of the cruises and is located nearly eight miles from the nearest accessible road. Because of the sand bar, we were unable to circle the caisson, but cruisers were satisfied with the excellent photo opportunity. After several minutes, Captain Marenka revved the engine and we proceeded to the remains of Holland Island Bar Lighthouse. A modern beacon, with black and white diamond daymarks, now rests on the foundation of the old screwpile that was dismantled by the Coast Guard in 1960. Pelicans and cormorants had replaced the human keepers, but did a poor job in keeping the structure clean. Continuing on our journey, Captain Marenka and First Mate Loch Weems provided some history of the area. We learned that Mr. Weems was the great grandson of one of the Drum Point Lighthouse keepers – James L. Weems. Our final caisson of the trip - Hooper Island Lighthouse – was our next stop. The “sparkplug” was built in 1902 and was located exactly halfway up the Chesapeake Bay. The active, but unmanned tower had its priceless Fresnel lens stolen in 1976 and was recently made available for sale or transfer under the provisions of the NHLPA. We had time to see one more lighthouse and ventured beyond the dock at Solomons and into some choppy waters to glimpse another Donahoo creation - Cove Point Lighthouse. Despite some “rocking and rolling”, we were able to get a good view of the active tower and the entire light station. Of the three trips, the seas were the roughest on Sunday. But all enjoyed the cool waves, especially Deidre Asbjorn, the winner of our unofficial “wet tee shirt contest”. We then headed back to the Oyster House; docking just after 5 PM and bade farewell to a great group of new and old friends and lighthouse fans.

Solomons Lump Holland Island Bar Cove Point

The Wolf's at Hooper Island We added several members to the “40+3” club on these trips. On Friday, Roland and Virginia Wolf were awarded the patch after visiting Hopper Island; they were also the winners of the raffle. Suzy Brummer joined the club on Saturday after stopping at Solomon’s Lump, and, ironically, was also the winner of our raffle. On Sunday Bryan Acree, “Buzz” and Janet Harsher joined the club at Solomon’s Lump as well. No 40+3 raffle winner this day, it was Robert English. Congratulations on a job well done!

Available for the first time to trip cruisers, were the USLHS Passport Stamps for Point-No-Point, Smith Point, Hooper Island and Solomons Lump. Unfortunately, although ordered in time, the stamps did not make it to us for the Friday and Saturday cruises. On those two days we handed out copies. However, on Sunday everyone received the official stampings for their books.

Special thanks to Tony Pasek, Sandra Sableski and Joyce Holland for making the trips a huge success and for keeping them on track. Thanks go out to Captain Marenka and Loch Weems for making the trip so enjoyable. We were able to get close to each light and get several different views. Their knowledge of the Bay was fascinating. Also, thanks for everyone who took the trips. We look forward to more in 2007.

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