by Mary Jo
Visiting Australia and New Zealand at the end of the summer was lovely, but tiring. So when the Mayhem Consultant and I looked for a November vacation, we picked the simplest thing we could find: a small boat cruise that left from the Inner Harbor of my Baltimore and sailed down the IntraCoastal Waterway to Charleston.
The Waterway is fascinating and not well known unless you've actually sailed on it. About 3000 miles long, it roughly parallels the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and is a collection of bays, canals, saltwater rivers and sounds. The result is a navigable channel with many fewer hazards than traveling on the open sea. (There are two sections around the Gulf that don't connect, but you can sail straight from New Jersey to Florida on the Atlantic stretch.)
The Chesapeake Bay is a big stretch of the Waterway, so all we had to do was take a taxi down to the boat, cruise and eat for a week, then take a short flight home. In between Baltimore and Charleston, there was a lot of really nice history!
The Independence carries about 120 passengers and is operated by American Cruise Lines. The company specializes in small boat cruising to a variety of American destinations, from the islands of New England to Mark Twain cruises on the Mississippi to Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands.
After admiring the dragon paddle boats in Baltimore's Inner Harbor (they're a stone's throw away from the historic ship Constellation) we set off. The history started right away as we cruised by Fort McHenry, site of the historic bombardment that led to Francis Scott Key composing the verses that became THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER.