Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Dropping Anchor Late

Even if you don't arrive at the Bay until after 4:00, August cuts you some slack.

There's still just under four hours to get your beach on before a day as exquisite as this one winds down to a close.

If you're like me and unaccustomed to setting up an umbrella that late in the day, you might be as surprised as I was that the shade produced was several yards away from the umbrella, which looked like some kind of abandoned totem far behind our chairs.

Science, never my strong suit.

Actually, late afternoon is ideal if you want to catch the maneuvering of a flotilla of sailboats (which, as it happened, I did) that convened and set sail right in front of us shortly after the work day ended.

Instead of happy hours, these avid sailors seemed to be having regatta hours.

And while it was totally cool seeing them circle and crisscross in front of one another, I found it most engaging when they lined up across the horizon, tilted at identical angles and looking for all the world like a synchronized swim team performing some sort of graceful choreography as they heeled in unison.

Oh sure, I spotted some luffing here and there, but for the most part, it was an impressive show of rigidity, at least in sails.

The military presence made itself felt repeatedly with helicopters buzzing the coast, jets overhead and the occasional hovercraft producing an ungodly racket and forcing up enough spray to look like smoke on the water down by the Bay Bridge Tunnel.

That late in the day, you're also bound to see industrious souls out in the shallow depths (which is actually awfully far out given that it's the bay) casting nets. Just standing in the water, I spotted more than a few blue crabs scuttling along the bottom, so it couldn't have been too difficult to net a few dozen with minimal effort.

If only I'd had a net.

Eventually, we walked down to Mac's Place to join the locals on the sunny bayside patio, the kind of rustic place that puts no effort into decor or furniture because it's all about location, location, location.

Wisely, we took a table in the shade, but still with a fine view of the brilliant blue bay, the boats and, if you squinted, the Eastern Shore, only to overhear the two old duffers at the next table order a couple of Fireballs.

Silly me, I thought Fireball was something only young and stupid college kids drank, but apparently aging beach locals are also fond of it as prelude to their Budweisers.

These guys had randomly stopped by Mac's while out on their bikes, reminiscing about when the joint had been called the Ship's Captain and had been even seedier than it is now.

That alone is worth pondering.

When one guy's phone rang loudly and he went to answer it, his buddy mocked him, saying in an effeminate, whiny voice, "Yes, dear?"

I get that not everyone wants the little woman to know he's at Mac's Place.

Today's superior weather ensured that the patio was soon completely filled with a lot of people who looked like they could be Jimmy Buffet fans (and, yes, that's a judgement), but perhaps that's just what long-time locals look like in these parts.

Lots of leathery tans, lots of tank tops. Too much long, wind-blown hair and a couple of porn 'staches. Just another night at Mac's.

Dinner matched the setting with steamed spiced shrimp and spicy fish tacos full of cabbage slaw that took far longer to arrive than they did to eat, but we'd arrived just as the masses did and fortunately, were in no hurry.

Our server was MIA when we wanted the check, but neither of us complained about sitting there watching the last of the golden light transition to the pinks and violets of impending sunset set against blue-gray cirrus clouds streaked across the sky.

Walking back to our beach chairs, we saw a guy come out of the water with a fish in hand, but no fish-catching apparatus in the other. Judging by the satisfied look on his face, we figured he'd simply snatched it out of the water.

That's a serious bay pro. Me, I just figured out the best time to hang out. I've nailed that.

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