The Rasmussens are used to moving.
Britta and Henrik Sandvad Rasmussen left their native Denmark in 1988 with their young children, Camilla, then 8, and Jacob, 6. They moved to Canterbury, England. Henrik, a cardiologist who also earned a Ph.D., worked in drug development in Britain's pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.
In 1994, when the family moved, again, there were three children. Baby Ayla was nearly 1.
This time, the job offer was a little further away. They jumped the Atlantic Ocean and settled in Arnold.
"I got the opportunity to join a biotechnology firm. It is headquartered in the U.K., but it was seeking to establish a base in the U.S.," explained Henrik. "The CEO was a sailor and loved Annapolis. We bought a house in the Ulmstead Estates community of Arnold."
The family settled in. In his spare time, Henrik became a rec league girls soccer coach and ran nine marathons, including the 2006 Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. Britta was an active volunteer.
But, in 2007, when Henrik accepted a new position, the family moved to Princeton.
"We liked and missed Annapolis," said Henrik. "When I started my own company, Rasmussen Biotech & Pharma Consulting, LLC, we moved back to Annapolis in 2012."
Their three children are grown and have, almost, flown the coop.
Broadneck High graduate Camilla, a registered nurse, is now 31 and the mother of Ava, 5. She and her husband
are expecting their second child soon.
An Annapolis resident, Jacob is 31 and director of project management for a biotech company. He and his wife Jennifer are the parents of 9-month-old Vera.
Ayla, 21, is in the midst of preparations for her June 28 wedding to U.S. Marine officer Adam Levy, a 2012 USNA graduate.
Instead of returning to their Arnold home, where Camilla, her husband Robert and Ava now reside, Henrik and Britta sought a spot with an unobstructed water view, barely any yard work - and plenty of room for the grandkids.
"We loved Arnold, but wanted to be close to the water and downtown," said Henrik.
They found it in Chesapeake Landing, a gated community of approximately 40 townhouses at the mouths of the Severn River and Spa Creek with panoramic views of historic Annapolis across the harbor and the
campus. And, tantalizing glimpses of the bay.
Just outside the Rasmussens' windows, the boats berthed at the Capital Yacht Club bob in their berths.
On a recent wintry day, the waves appear frozen in mid-curl and ice frosted the shoreline of the small beachfront.
Henrik now works from home. With a view like that, why not?
But, he took his eyes off the horizon long enough to pen "Deadly Deceptions," a medical thriller about a biotechnologist. Available from iUniverse at
, Henrik insisted the novel is not a fictionalized account of his own exploits in the intriguing world of drug development, biotechnology and science. Then he grinned.
"We love it here in Eastport," said Britta. "We can just walk everywhere. We explore downtown and Eastport several times a week."
"We can see the fireworks on July 4 and New Year's Eve, the lights of the town, and the Wednesday night sailboat races."
Henrik joked his surname is "Danish for 'Smith.' Three out of the last four prime ministers of Denmark have been a Rasmussen. It means 'son of Rasmus,' a Danish first name." It is derived from a 4th century saint, Erasmus, a patron saint of sailors.
Count the decks
The gates at the community go up. While looking for an ideal parking spot, I look around. Water, water, everywhere - on three sides of the community, sited on a small peninsula.
The Rasmussens' townhouse is a center unit in a series of townhomes clustered in an L-shape. Built in 1980, their home has 3 1/2 baths, four bedrooms and a garage.
Ten steps lead up to the front door.
The main floor is open and filled with natural light. The far wall is a bank of six tall windows. The two center windows are sliding doors that open onto the deck that runs the width of the house.
"We redid all the bathrooms, but the kitchen was remodeled by a previous owner," said Britta. "The wall between the kitchen and dining room area was taken down to open the space. Most units have the wall with a pass-through window."
Visually, the house exudes a cool, streamlined serenity. Walls and floor coverings are pale. The kitchen cabinetry, floors, staircases, banisters and trim utilize blonde woods. Here and there are unexpected bursts of color.
"Our furniture is European-inspired," said Britta. "Our living room couch is from Denmark, and we shop at Ikea, which is Swedish."
The kitchen, at the front of the townhouse, overlooks a small deck positioned above the garage door. The kitchen's gleaming black granite countertops contrast against the pale cabinets and the brushed stainless steel appliances.
We head down the wooden stairs to the lower level. Henrik points to a shelving unit fully stocked with bottles of wine. It is tucked next to the staircase.
"That's my wine cellar," Henrik quipped.
Ayla is camped out in the downstairs bedroom, which is also used as the family's workout space.
The room is lit up by four tall windows, two of which are sliding doors. The doors open on a third deck, with a view showcasing the marina next door.
"We can walk on the treadmill and look at television or look at the water," said Henrik.
Their daughter is toning up for the upcoming nuptials. On a whiteboard near her bed, Ayla's written motivational phrases in neon pink and green inks.
"The body achieves what the mind believes," says one. Another reads: "You don't get the results you want - You get the results you work for."
Her bed is covered with a quilted taupe spread, accented with chocolate and pale turquoise pillows.
Watching a hurricane
The master bedroom boasts yet another deck-with-a-view.
"We go out on the balcony and have a glass of wine at night," said Henrik.
"We look at the lights at the Academy and their reflection on the water."
The couple's mahogany-toned sleigh bed, purchased in Bowie, is enveloped with a white and red abstract print quilt. It looks like a good place to watch the world sail by.
The room features a modern hearth of sleek sand-colored marble tiles. A lounge chair with beige and dark chocolate cushions rests alongside.
It's not always serene. On another evening, Henrik and Britta barricaded themselves against the fury of
. They, along with their neighbors, filled dozens of bags with sand and placed them at the entrances to their homes. Then, they watched the storm from their room.
In another bedroom, Ava cheerfully waits to show off the guest room she's claimed as her own. The room sports white wooden furniture. Ava's bed is topped with a bold, black and white printed duvet over turquoise bedding.
At the foot of the white spiral staircase to the uppermost level, the Rasmussens placed a reminder of home. It's a small side table with a drawer. Over 100 years old, it was used as a tobacco table by an ancestor. Its owner would dump a still-hot pipe into the drawer and close it. Inevitably, some live embers fell onto the bottom of the drawer.
Britta pulled the drawer out.
The bottom is blackened and scorched. A burn hole is clearly visible.
On top of the table rests another memory of home: a statue of Denmark's beloved Little Mermaid. The original, an iconic 91-year-old bronze statue by Edvard Eriksen, sits on a boulder at the entrance to Copenhagen's harbor.
Room with a view
At the top of the white spiral staircase, on the uppermost level, is Henrik's loft-like office and man-cave. Two desks are tucked under the eaves and one wall is lined with bookshelves. This is where he works when he is not jetting off to visit a faraway client.
In a corner, next to the window, a telescope is set for an enhanced view of vessels out on the water.
Ava loudly announced that the space is her playroom, too. Her books, art supplies, toys and child-sized furniture vie for space alongside his scholarly journals and literary classics.
A framed photo-poster on another wall depicts Henrik astride a jet ski.
"AWESOMENESS," it proclaims. "The only way the Big Hen knows."