ABOUT 30 MEMBERS of England's Royal Lymington Yacht Club (RLymYC) joined the Sailing Club of the Chesapeake (SCC) in September 2019 for a taste of Chesapeake Bay cruising. Altogether, 78 sailors on 20 boats enjoyed some of the best fall cruising the Chesapeake has to offer good winds, perfect temperatures, cool nights on the hook and a special sailing camaraderie.
Previous cruises with these British sailors focused on places along the Chesapeake Bay shoreline that the Royal Navy plundered during the War of 1812, but this recent cruise aimed to celebrate the Bay's unique culture, towns and regional seafood. Respectively, we called these voyages the No Hard Feelings I and II Cruises.
The original No Hard Feelings cruise took place in 1976 when England's Royal Yachting Association joined The Cruising Club of America and SCC and brought together 400 people to commemorate America's bicentennial.
Of course, the relationship was rekindled decades later over a libation. In 2012, SCC's past commodore Joe Jackins and RLymYC's David Brunskill met at a bar and toasted a Pimm's & Grapefruit cocktail a British favorite in honor of continuing the friendship.
Who would have known that just over a century ago, English ships stormed up the Chesapeake Bay pillaging coastal towns to suppress insurrection and torched the capitol in Washington, DC. to display their military might? Generations later, all was forgiven, and an international bond forged through sailing had blossomed into a regular meeting of friendship.
The tradition continued as later cruises took place in 2015 in the United States and in 2017 along the Solent, a strait that separates the Isle of Wight from the mainland of England.
Land tours of Annapolis and Washington, DC, bookended our sailing trip that started with tours of Colonial Annapolis and the U.S. Naval Academy. After visiting the Maryland State House, Maryland's Secretary of State John Wobensmith presented our British guests with a citation from Governor Larry Hogan, welcoming the members of the RLymYC. In the end, they enjoyed Mount Vernon with a tour from a senior docent of the U.S. Capitol.
The next day was followed by a sail and a coincidental Navy flyover to the Chesapeake Yacht Club (CYC) in Shady Side for an Eastern Shore BBQ with delicious fried chicken and a sing-along. Former Washington Post editor Angus Phillips initiated the sing-along and the highlight of the night was when everyone spontaneously stood up, held hands and joined in singing as he played Auld Lang Syne.
From there, we raced with 136 sailors to the beautiful Wye River for a pig roast at a member's home. SCC members came to welcome our English sailors, sample the tender pork and enjoy entertainment by local musician Orlando Phillips. A beach bonfire and a bright orange, full harvest moonrise over Shaw Bay capped off the evening. There is something special about anchoring out on stunning rivers along the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay.
Next, we navigated through Kent Island Narrows to the Corsica River, where we swam and later shared appetizers at a SCC member's home overlooking the anchorage.
Determined to give our guests another taste of the Eastern Shore, the next day we sailed across the Corsica and Chester Rivers to Rock Hall for some shopping, local ice cream and a crab feast at Waterman's Crab House. Here, our British guests quickly learned how to pick and eat Maryland blue crabs, which they loved. A few RLymYC members even lasted as long as our members in the all-you-can-eat crab feast.
From the laid-back Eastern Shore, we sailed back across the Bay to Baltimore's Harbor East Marina where they welcomed us under a tented picnic area with local libations and munchies, such as Maryland wines, regional beers, Old Bay potato chips and Berger cookies.
Early the next day, we enjoyed a bus tour of Fort McHenry, the Baltimore Museum of Art and some Baltimore neighborhoods. Later in the day, a private water taxi tour dropped us off at the Baltimore Museum of Industry to sample another Bay classic the oyster. The museum was also hosting the Oyster Recovery Partnership's Mermaid's Kiss a fabulous party and the best fundraiser on the Bay. RLymYC and SCC members were the last ones on the dance floor.
Our cruising week concluded with a trip to the Gibson Island Yacht Squadron (GIYS) for the annual Race for the Broom. Started in 1951, this is the longest-running team race challenge between two clubs on the East Coast. Racers compete in International 210s for the best three out of five races. Each team has three boats with three sailors per boat. This year one RLymYC sailor crewed on each SCC boat.
In addition, international judge Roger Wilson, an RLymYC member, provided a commentary on the team racing for the spectator fleet. Although the SCC teams fought hard, after a great day of sailing, GIYS won the series. However, all three clubs enjoyed the post-race party and camaraderie that is a part of sailing.
Showcasing the Bay provided a great cruise for sailors from both sides of the pond. Plans are already in the works for visiting England in 2022 to share our common bond, as well as the love and passion for sailing. Both clubs have a rich nautical history that has helped encourage and strengthen the relationship over the years, and we all look forward to more special times in years to come.
Since its start in 1944, The Sailing Club of the Chesapeake has promoted sailing, cruising and yacht racing afloat and ashore through programs and events that further this maritime sport. Nearly 200 members and mates sail, cruise and race 140 vessels throughout the Bay, the Atlantic region and on extended international voyages. The club welcomes sailors interested in learning more about its activities and can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story received honorable mention from Marinalife's 20th Anniversary Cruising Story Contest in the winter 2020 edition.