Boating in Solomons, Maryland
This small but happenin' point of land at the mouth of the Patuxent River was largely undeveloped until Baltimore businessman Isaac Solomon saw its potential. Solomon recognized its proximity to the popular, deep-water harbor off Drum Point, and by 1868 he had constructed an oyster cannery with employee housing, a wharf, lime kiln, and marine railway. Soon shipyards, grocers, chandleries, and other services sprouted up to support the new town and its fishing fleet. While Solomon eventually failed as a businessman, he established Solomons Island's reputation as a boating center.
In addition to its proud heritage as a center for Chesapeake watermen, Solomons was home to America's first naval amphibious training base. More than 68,000 men were trained at this base between 1942 and 1945. Many of them took part in World War II landings throughout the Pacific-including at the Solomons Islands. The Harbor at Solomons, a condominium complex, now occupies the former site of the base.
Things to See and Do
Make the Calvert Marine Museum (410-326-2042) your first stop. Permanent exhibits include 20 million-year-old fossilized shark teeth, a tank of playful otters, and various art dedicated to the sea. The museum also offers seasonal events such as the Waterside Music Festival, Sharkfest, and River Appreciation. To learn about Solomons and the Patuxent River from the water, head to the museum dock and take a cruise aboard the Wm. B. Tennison, a bugeye built in 1899.
Next to the museum, climb through the hatch of the restored Drum Point Lighthouse, one of the few screwpile lighthouses remaining. A half-mile south of the museum grounds, you can learn about boatbuilding, shellfishing, and the tools of those trades at the J.C. Lore Oyster House (410-326-2878).
Make your visit an active one by spending some time with the Patuxent Adventure Center (401-394-2770), where you can rent bikes and kayaks or head out on a guided paddling tour. Adopt a more leisurely pace as you stroll through Annmarie Garden (410-326-4640), a lovely sculpture garden associated with the Smithsonian Institution. Outdoor artwork is featured in combination with 30 acres of beautifully landscaped terrain. If you're visiting in September, don't miss Artsfest (410-326-4640), a two-day celebration that attracts artists from up and down the Atlantic Coast.
Other annual events in Solomons include the Fourth of July Fireworks and the Solomons Island Festival (Labor Day weekend). This area still enjoys warm conditions in early autumn for the Calvert Waterman's Festival (late September) and the Patuxent River Appreciation Days Festival (Columbus Day weekend).
Restaurants and Provisions
Hungry mariners will find a wide variety of dining options clustered around the harbor. The Lighthouse Inn (410-326-2444) provides a wonderful harbor view along with their steak and seafood specialties. For more casual repast, dine at the Inn's outdoor counterpart, the Quarterdeck (410-326-2444). Solomons Pier (410-326-2424) offers piles of seafood from its perch in the Patuxent River, while its neighbor Catamarans (410-326-8399) boasts ribs and seafood, plus a cabana bar.
Enjoy the sunshine and a breeze off the water on the waterfront deck at Stoney's Kingfishers (410-394-0236), where you'll eat your fill of fresh crab and other delights. Farther up Back Creek, the Wheelhouse Bar and Grill (410-326-2161) at Spring Cove Marina can provide anything from pub grub to seafood dinners. You'll need land transportation for provisioning; Woodburn's Food Market (410-326-3999) will deliver to your slip, or take you to the store to shop.
Navigation and Anchorages
Use Maptech ChartKit Region 4 page 35 and Maptech electronic and NOAA paper chart 12284.
From the north, pick up Fl G 2.5s G "77," southeast of Cove Point, and steer a course of 245°m for 3.5nm to south of Fl R 2.5s 22ft 5M "4" at the mouth of the Patuxent River. From the south or east, stay north of Fl G 4s BELL G "1PR," marking Cedar Point, and head northwest for Fl G 2.5s 15ft 4M "3" at the mouth of the river.
Solomons has two approaches, separated by a well-marked shoal. When entering Solomons for the first time, locals recommend using the southern approach (marked by Fl R 2.5s 15ft 3M "6") rather than the shallower, narrower northern approach. You might see local boaters cutting across the shoal between the channels, but this is not recommended. The shoal is well-marked and easy to avoid-why take the risk?
Mill Creek and Back Creek, which join at Solomons Island, split just north of the entrance. There are a number of marinas clustered around Solomons Island and the entrance. Farther up Back Creek you find a number of full-featured marinas, including Zahniser's Yachting Center, Spring Cove Marina, and Hospitality Harbor Marina.
The best place to anchor is in northern Back Creek, where there is 7 to 9 feet (mlw), north of Hospitality Harbor Marina. The Solomons Water Taxi makes this a very convenient spot for getting to the services in town. While the taxi operates primarily in Back Creek, it provides service to most of the restaurants and facilities in the area.
CAUTION: Give daymark R "4" in Back Creek plenty of room due to reported shoaling north of this marker.
Most areas of Mill Creek are well-protected places to anchor, but beware of the cable areas indicated on the chart.