Scanning the Horizon on the Chesapeake Bay

Early Morning on Lake Ogleton, near Annapolis, Maryland

I’m just back from a short cruise on the amazing Chesapeake Bay.  One of the reasons for getting out on the water, away from fast-paced daily life, is to stare at the horizon and “figure some things out.”  But on this recent cruise I realized how challenging it can be to get an accurate picture of what’s coming next.

Horizon Scanning 

We use metaphors all the time in business.  Sport metaphors are probably the most common, but nautical ones are a strong second.  Associations and businesses frequently talk about “scanning the horizon” for threats or emerging trends.  My time on the Bay this weekend reminded me how challenging horizon scanning can be.

Sharps Island Lighthouse

Most of the cruises that I’ve taken on the Chesapeake Bay are under sail, but this time we were in a 25-foot Sea Fox with a Yamaha 250, power cruising down the Bay.  When cruising under sail you are generally moving less than 8 nautical miles per hour (about 10 statute miles per hour) and so you have plenty of time to scan the horizon and compare it to the chart.  You’ve got time to correct your course if you realize that you’re headed in the wrong direction.  Not that accidents don’t happen on a sailboat, I’ve had my share of groundings.  But the speed of a powerboat (up to 33 mph) makes it even more difficult to match what you are seeing to what is on the chart, especially in unfamiliar waters.

When you’re headed toward shore in a fast-moving powerboat your view of the horizon changes much more quickly.  What you thought was the channel to the harbor all of a sudden you realize is something else and there is shallow water ahead!  Is this relevant in the business world today? Because things move so quickly now, do we need to step up our horizon scanning to constantly revaluate the horizon?  I don’t think there is any doubt about it.

Solomons Lump Lighthouse – North End of Smith Island

Who’s Watching the Chesapeake Bay?

Before we departed I printed a copy of Save the Bay, the nice quarterly magazine of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF).  I’ve been aware of CBF for many years.  Their headquarters building is in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Annapolis where my very dear friends the Rode Family has lived for 20 years.  I decided to make a contribution to CBF and to increase my awareness of what they are doing.  CBF makes joining very easy, and there is a nice set of benefits for a contribution of just $25.00, including a subscription to Save the Bay.

The Bay is not getting any healthier.  Cruising from Annapolis to Crisfield, Maryland, you can see the water becoming more and more beautiful and pristine as you head south, away from large population areas and the more significant agricultural production.

The fight to clean up the Bay is nasty and there are many stakeholders.  I definitely see a need for an organization like CBF to keep the dialogue honest and productive, and so I am going to get involved.  If you have a view on how CBF is doing I’d like to hear about it.  Is the CBF a well run non-profit and are they making a positive contribution to saving the Chesapeake Bay?

Somers Cove, Crisfield, Maryland

Aids to Navigation

When we’re on the water we frequently take pictures of lighthouses and other aids to navigation.  Why do we take pictures of lighthouses?  Is it because there isn’t anything else to photograph out there, or is it because we wonder what it would have been like to live there as a lighthouse tender, especially without any modern electronics?

Hooper Island Lighthouse

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1 Response to Scanning the Horizon on the Chesapeake Bay

  1. Tammy Kuiper says:

    I’m glad I stumbled on your blog. I’ve been scanning my personal horizon and the horizon of the Hudson River this year and your blog has lit a marker beacon for me. It’s true, going out for a sail somehow does clear the mind. It’s funny though..I admit to taking my share of pictures from the boat but I would say it’s often to capture the people I’m with and scenery around them in an effort to preserve a moment and a feeling that I hope to evoke when I look at the photos later. When I take pictures of lighthouses sometimes I think of what it would have been like to live there. We actually almost bought a lighthouse about a year ago with the thoughts of having an escape from modern life and a capsule where we could find a different perspective on things, ironically it just wasn’t practical. Most often though, I would say my thoughts are more of the stories the lighthouse could tell. The ships that have passed, the storms it has weathered, the changes it has witnessed and perhaps even some of the boating stupidity it could share. I think when we look at lighthouses we see a fixed beacon, a guide that stands against time and the elements. It speaks to something deep within us, perhaps our need for predictability and strength through an unpredictable life. Something we can count on and trust, something we know will be there when we open our eyes or the fog clears telling us exactly where we are no matter how lost we were.

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