Happy Birthday Harbor Queen! 40 Years of Memories & Fun
Watermark's signature vessel, Harbor Queen turns 40 in 2012! To honor her birthday, we're asking the public and past employees to share their favorite Harbor Queen memories and stroll down memory lane with us. Here you can read all the stories that honor our Queen and share your own!
In the summer of 2011, I was doing 40 minute tours on Harbor Queen with Matt Siska and Chase Loetz as crew. On one of the tours, we found a young couple celebrating their anniversary, Jennifer and Jake. We announced their anniversary and dedicated a song from Jake to Jennifer, "My Girl". He got up and danced with her to the song and the folks on the top deck all applauded.
Then this spring, I had two couples and a very small infant on the top deck of the Harbor Queen standing in the howling wind. I invited them all into the Pilot House to get the baby out of the wind. I learned the parents and infant were visiting from Chicago. They were riding the HQ on this blustery day because their hosts told them “it was really cool" and a must do while visiting. The other couple looked familiar to me and as they reminded me of the day we played "My Girl" for her on the HQ, I realized it was Jennifer and Jake. I told her I was glad it helped make her day and Jennifer told me, "It didn't make my day, it made my summer!" Jennifer and Jake are from Baltimore and that day last year was their first trip ever on HQ.
After that trip, they told me they returned to Annapolis 4 or 5 more times last summer with friends and out of town family and every time they rode on HQ. They told me to expect to see them at least 4 or 5 times this summer with friends as the Harbor Queen is now a special place for them.
~ Captain John Hanna
During our Annapolis trip, we went on two tours, the 40 minute Annapolis Harbor & U.S. Naval Academy Cruise on Harbor Queen and a 90 minute Chesapeake Bay Bridge Cruise. Both were fantastic, bringing back vivid memories of my childhood growing up in the area. Our son David, who is turning 8, really enjoyed both rides and they even allowed him and Flat Stanley take the helm on both tours! We were so grateful. And to see the Bay Bridge from beneath is breathtaking. I highly recommend both tours!
~ John Mckenney
I met my future husband on the Harbor Queen. It was in September, 1980. His company at the Naval Academy (first company) was having a party, and I was invited to go by the young man I was dating at the time. We went to the top deck to sit and my future husband was talking and entertaining us. He was very funny and I was having a great time. When the current boyfriend went down to get beer, he asked Dan to "watch" me! Well, I guess he did! I had a much better time listening to Dan tell stories than being with the guy I had come with. I didn't see Dan again until February that year when he came with another friend to visit my college. He knew I'd be there and waited on the steps of my dorm until he saw me. We started dating then and were married in 1983. The last picture in our wedding album is of us in front of the Harbor Queen, where it all began!
~ Anita Hudson
My favorite Harbor Queen memory includes two fantastic cruises with my dance club. The dance club was the DC-MD-VA Hand Dance Club. We had our own DJ "Tommy-D" and we danced on the Harbor Queen while "Captain Mel" took us out on the Severn River. My friends are still talking about it and wishing that we could do it again. It was a great way to be together with friends enjoying the summer breeze while dancing and listening to beach music. The best part of dancing and cruising on the Severn River was having my daughter Melonie as the Captain.
~ Patricia Sczuka
The Harbor Queen has become my second home. I started working for Watermark almost 18 years ago as a crew member and that is when the Queen started to become my home. From meeting other coworkers to meeting new people every hour, I had so many new friends that quickly became family. I started to care for the Queen like my own home, cleaning and arranging the furniture so my friends could see the best view.
Once I became a captain, the one boat I desired to drive was the Queen! I have been driving her for most of my career and have found that even though there are bigger and brighter boats...she is still the best boat to be on. You get to meet new people every hour, share their memories and help capture their memory by taking a picture with the Queen. Whether it is in front of her beautiful wheel or by the flag with the Naval Academy in the background, almost everyone wants to get a picture with the Queen!
~ Captain Mel Abernethy
I, too, turned 40 this year. As a child I lived in downtown Annapolis. My parents took my older brother and I on a Harbor Queen cruise to check out this new Annapolis activity. We all were seated and ready to venture out into Spa Creek and the Harbor Queen sounds her blast of a horn. I proceeded to scream, apparently almost as loud as the horn! My parents tried to comfort me while still enjoying the cruise. For the next year or so, whenever I heard the blast, which was often as we lived just a few blocks away, I would start my crying fit. Eventually I got over my fear and have many fond memories of cruising the Annapolis waterways on the lovely Harbor Queen. As my own baby will be turning 14 in a few weeks, we plan on celebrating with a cruise on this Annapolis "landmark".
When I was about 8 years old, my Aunt Nancy took my family and me down to the dock in Annapolis to take a ride on the Harbor Queen. As we approached the boat to board, it started to pull away from the dock. I was so upset that I cried and cried! The captain must have seen and/or heard me and pulled the boat back in to pick us up! Though it was SO long ago (I'm 48 now!) I remember the beautiful night on the Harbor Queen and was so happy that I was able to cry the boat back in to the dock!
Captain Jack Roden & I delivered a number of boats together and for each other’s contacts. Some years ago Jack told me that the preceding Saturday evening he had taken the Harbor Queen up the Severn River to Round Bay and back. On the return trip when they passed through the old drawbridge, his deck hand came running up the bridge hollering, “Jack, Jack, one of those middies just stripped off his clothes, dived overboard and is climbing naked up the bridge pilings!”
Jack said he telephoned the Naval Academy and the person answering the phone stated, “I am sorry. The Naval Academy telephone service is closed for the evening. Please try your call tomorrow.” Jack replied, “Well it doesn’t matter to me, but somebody might be interested in knowing that one of your middies is climbing naked up the pilings of the Severn River drawbridge.” The person on the line replied, “Yes, sir. Hold one moment! I will have someone on the phone!”
Jack continued on his trip back to the dock and never knew what happened.
My soon to be office (aka the houseboat) had not yet arrived at the city dock. I had to set-up office on board the Harbor Queen. Let's just say typing on a manual typewriter sort of made me a little sea sick. Selling tickets for the different cruises was among my many duties. It never failed that someone would ask me, not once or twice, but multiple times a day "how long is your 40 minute tour"? I always wanted to respond "oh, about an hour and a half" but instead, I smiled as they boarded the Harbor Queen for their 40 minute tour!
In the summer of 1991, I had known Debbie Gosselin for a few years. As the summer was coming to an end, Debbie asked if I could help on a few charters and, of course, I was more than happy to help. What better way to spend August than on charter boats attending parties. One particular day, I received a call asking if I could be at Cabaret within two ours. A couple with a small party was to be married on cruise provided by a competing charter company. For various reasons this had to be urgently moved to Watermark’s Cabaret. Upon arrival at the dock I was assisted by guy I had met before (Justin Binnix) but never worked with and Captain Ed Hartman. The three of us quickly moved all the decoration, food and drink from one boat to Cabaret. During our transit from Back Creek to City Dock for passenger pck-up, Justin and I decorated the boat and prepared all the food for display, etc. At this point I did not think much of this day, but this day changed my life forever.
The wedding was quick and beautiful. The wedding couple and their family knew about the last minute changes and began to express their gratitude to the Captain and Crew for putting everything together so wonderfully and hastily. The party of about 20 people thought Captain Ed was the father and that Justin and I were brother and sister. Floored when we explained that we had barely met, they insisted we join them for dinner at the Yacht Club later as we were, in their eyes, "the perfect couple." While we resisted at first, they were relentless. I told Justin "If you go, I'll go." Later that night at the Yacht Club, we had the privilege of a brand new bride and groom, along with their families, toast Justin and I for what we did and what we should become!! It truly changed our lives. While that night did end in a kiss, it took a few months for the romance to build but we are happy to say 20 years later, it was the best day of our lives!!
As luck, or bad luck, would have it, we were never able to track down those people that brought us together that day. Since the original charter was with another company, we never found records or contact info and were unable to invite them to our wedding. Call it destiny, coincidence or just luck we could not be happier.
Since then, Justin's Father Ken Binnix worked as a captain for Watermark and this summer our sons Noah and Hayden will begin work at Watermark.
She isn't a miniature copy of the sleek Cunard famous Queens. She is a square box with false smoke stacks that seems more like a turn of the century New Orleans packet. She is funky looking, a blast from her horn startles and that is her signature.
She is the Harbor Queen. Annapolis Harbor is her home. For forty years her looks and sounds and unique presence have been a part of the mind and heart and experience and memory of Annapolitans. A curiosity when she first chugged into the city, today the Annapolis Harbor would not be the same without her.Happy Birthday Harbor Queen. You are special! A toast for 40 more.
~Ellen MoyerMy husband and I were married 29 years ago in St. Mary’s church in Annapolis on May 29, 1983. For months prior to the wedding, we searched for a place to have our wedding reception and came up with the idea of having it on the Harbor Queen. The Harbor Queen owners allowed us to cater the event ourselves which helped a lot because of us being newlyweds and my husband still being in graduate school. A band called the Romanos from Baltimore set up on the lower deck and played for 4 hours while people danced in the center area. People got drinks at the bar and milled about on the lower and upper decks. It had rained a little bit that afternoon and the paint on the lower deck started to rub off with the dancing. I still have a slight red stain on the bottom of my wedding dress which brings back good memories of that night. Everyone that attended our wedding has fond memories of our reception. My husband and I have been on the Harbor Queen a few times since that day accompanying our children on school class trips and we still remember that day almost 30 years ago. Congratulations on the anniversary of the Harbor Queen.