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Boating in St. Michael's, Maryland
The Heart & Soul of the Chesapeake Bay
St. Michaels is one of the most picturesque towns on the Chesapeake Bay and draws boaters not just from the mid-Atlantic region but from all along the Eastern Seaboard. The adorable, vibrant town has a bit of everything to comprise the ideal getaway: beautiful Victorian architecture, great marinas (including St. Michaels Marina and Higgins Yacht Yard), excellent shops, first-rate restaurants—and The Inn at Perry Cabin.
The Inn at Perry Cabin (you might recognize the manor house from its cameo appearance in Wedding Crashers, parts of which were filmed here) is one of the area’s true gems, with an award-winning restaurant, a standout spa, acres of gardens, and all the amenities you would expect from a top-notch property. Visiting boaters are especially lucky as there are also slips that can accommodate vessels up to 100 feet with a six-foot draft. If you just want to experience the resort for a few hours, and access the spa, fitness center, infinity-edge swimming pool, pool bar, steam room, and shower facilities.
Things to See and Do
While the side streets are ideal for bicycling, you'll want to walk along the town's main street, Talbot Street. Here you'll find most of the shops and restaurants. The town is walking scale, so taking it in on foot is easy. Visit the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (410-745-2916), an 18-acre waterfront complex with a boatbuilder's shed, restored Chesapeake workboats, and pleasure craft—some of which are still in periodic use. Climb up into screwpile-type Hooper Strait Lighthouse, which sits on the harbor bulkhead, to see how the lighthouse keeper lived. The museum's boat sheds house some wonderful old one-off racing sailboats. The outlaw gunners' exhibit with sinkboxes and 10-foot long blunderbusses (a precursor to the shotgun) helps to explain what happened to a lot of the local waterfowl. Don't miss the Antique and Classic Boat Festival each June.
St. Michaels Museum at St. Mary's Square (410-745-9561) offers a picture of the waterman's life during the 19th century. There is a cannon in the square, but the ones used in the battle of St. Michaels were taken to Fort McHenry just prior to the Civil War.
There are enough specialty shops in St. Michaels to entice even the most frugal. London on Talbot Street offering fine English antiques—the Brits are obviously forgiven for their assault all those years ago. Chesapeake Bay Outfitters (410-745-3107) offers resort clothes while Chesapeake Trading Company (410-745-9797) sells clothes, books, CD's of regionally as well as nationally known artists, jewelry and more. There are small galleries and eclectic shops like A Wish Called Wanda (410-745-6763), which offers quirky and elegant gifts, crafts and home décor. Flying Fred's (410-745-9601) sells gifts for pets. Need a little personal TLC after time on the boat? Get the works at Five Gables Inn and Spa (410-745-0100) on North Talbot Street (an appointment is recommended).
If you need to get around the harbor without losing your slip, search out St. Michaels Harbor Shuttle (410 924 2198, VHF 71). Dockside Express (888-312-7847) can take you on a number of different tours: there's an "ecotour" (Dockside operates Phillips Wharf Environmental Center in Tilghman Island) as well as Sunset celebration tours, guided walking tours and ghost tours.
Restaurants and Provisions
The deck overlooking the harbor at St. Michaels Crab & Steak House (410-745-3737), housed in an 1830s oyster-shucking shed, offers great summer ambience for the shorts and flip-flip crowd. Pets are welcome outside. In the center of it all is St. Michaels Marina (410-745-2400), offering a swimming pool, marine store, showers and bike rentals. Family-friendly Carpenter Street Saloon (410-745-5111) is a favorite spot for boaters after the Wednesday evening races—crab cakes, hamburgers, slaw and more. Get a beer and shoot some pool upstairs.
This bright waterfront restaurant offers a seafood buffet on Friday and a brunch buffet on Sunday. Another good choice is Bistro St. Michaels (410-745-9111) where the sophisticated seafood bar offers things like smoked fish pate. Finish up with chocolate mousse with raspberries and white chocolate shavings. The Inn at Perry Cabin (410-745-2200) is now a massive hotel and spa complex just southwest of the maritime museum on the harbor. You won't be disappointed at either The Purser's Pub or Sherwood's Landing Restaurant. They welcome walk-ins, but recommend reservations.
You'll find provisions at the local Acme Markets (410-745-9879), which is in the thick of town on Talbot Street. Or stock up on organic local produce, herbs, cheeses and more at the St. Michaels Freshfarm Market (202.362.8889) a farmer's market in Muskrat Park Saturday mornings, April through October.
Use ChartKit Region 4 pages 11 and 29; Maptech Waterproof Chartbook Upper Chesapeake Bay; or Maptech Waterproof Chart 44. Also, Maptech electronic and NOAA paper chart 12270 (1:40,000).
Navigation and Anchorages
This popular bayside town is well suited for taking care of transient boaters, and everything you'll need is within walking distance. At the same time, its popularity can be a challenge for unprepared travelers. Dock space is usually at a premium, and the anchorage, known to have poor hold, is crowded as well. Some cruisers opt for dropping anchor in nearby creeks.
From Tilghman Point in Eastern Bay head southeast to R N "6" and then set a southeast course into the Miles River. Heed the buoys, especially G "11" Fl G 4s. Stay to the west of this buoy, which is one of a triangle of buoys marking a very shallow area in the middle of the river.
The river narrows east of Deep Water Point; stay west of Fl G 4s 15ft 4M "1." Stay a bit off the buoys marking the points, as the shoals extend a bit on their northern sides. Round to the east of Fl R 2.5s 15ft 3M "4," and head for Fl R 4s 4M "2" at the entrance to St. Michaels Harbor. Stay off the southeast point to your port. The Chesapeake Bay Museum complex, distinguished by Hooper's Island Light, is up ahead. In the center of the waterfront, St. Michaels Marina (410-745-2400) overflows with services to entertain and please visiting boaters.
Shoreside and Emergency Services
Baltimore Airport 410-859-7100
Greyhound Bus Lines 410-822-3333
Oxford 410-226-0580 or VHF 16
Police, Fire, Ambulance:
JW Express Taxi 443-496-2662
Sea Tow 800-4SEATOW or VHF 16
TowBoatU.S 800-391-4869 or VHF 16 F