Bright lights, big city; that’s what you get when you cruise up the Patapsco River to Baltimore, Maryland. Known as “Charm City” you’ll hear the locals calling it “Balmer”.
Museums, music, sports, history, performing arts, diverse neighborhoods and culinary exploration, all within walking or water taxi distance of the first class marinas. On the national stage Baltimore is best known as the place where Francis Scott Key penned the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which came to him after witnessing a battle at Fort McHenry during the War of 1812.
It’s a raven territory, as in The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe, which gave the eponymous football team its name: The Ravens. Baltimore is also home to baseball’s Orioles and the Inner Harbor.
There’s a down-home side to the city on the streets of its neighborhoods like Canton, Fells Point, Little Italy, Harbor East, and Federal Hill. You’ll find terrific restaurants, markets and music venues. It’s a big city, that’s true, but if you spend enough time here you’ll find it’s easy to kick back and get into a “Hon” frame of mind.
The Chesapeake Bay is not only the largest estuary in the contiguous United States, but without question the most diverse. It is less than 200 nautical miles from the southern entrance near Portsmouth, Va., to Baltimore, Md., and there is a lot to see and do along the way. The shoreline of its 4,479 square miles is peppered with cosmopolitan cities, historic seaports, famous battlegrounds, charming small towns, the nation's capital and the world's best crab cakes!
Situated midway between Florida and New England, the bay has long been an ideal layover for ICW travelers. Now, through extensive work by the Marine Trades Association of Maryland, the US Superyacht Association and neighboring states to change government policies, the Bay has become very inviting to large yachts. For instance, a Bay Pilot is no longer needed for a vessel under 200 feet and less than 12-foot draft in Maryland waters. Maryland has become more tax friendly by capping taxes at $15,000 on the sales of vessels for extended stays. Large yachts can enjoy excellent cruising grounds, protected water, superior service, provisioning and major tourist destinations within this concentrated area. Megayacht Captain Paulo Alves can attest to what the area has to offer. "The area's residents are so welcoming," he says. "They treat us like locals -- I will be back this summer."
We put together an itinerary that includes destinations and marinas that accommodate large yachts (more than 80 feet). We hope you will try cruising the Chesapeake Bay this spring and summer!
Cape Charles Yacht Center, the newest destination for full service on the East Coast, is perfectly located in a scenic, natural setting within walking distance to the quaint town of Cape Charles, Va. the harbor sits where the bay meets the Atlantic and offers 1,000 feet of face dockage and 18-foot channel depth. Guests have full access to nearby Bay Creek Resort, including its world-class golf. The site is the largest ecosystem on the Delmarva peninsula, making it a paradise for birders and fishermen. Plus, it's just 40 minutes from Virginia Beach and an international airport. The marina can provide visiting yachtsmen service from subcontractors and an on-site maintenance team.
A short run across the bay to Portsmouth, Va., is Tidewater Yacht Marina, located at mile marker 0, with slips for vessels up to 130 feet and 11 feet depth at the docks. Just a half-mile south along the Elizabeth River in Portsmouth is Ocean Yacht Marina offering 1,500 feet of alongside dockage (24-foot dock depth) and a state-of-the-art refit and repair yard. The marinas are located in the heart of Portsmouth's Olde Towne District, within walking distance of 18th- and 19th-century buildings, a riverfront park, the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, the Lightship Portsmouth Museum, the Children's Museum of Virginia and the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.
Farther north is York River Yacht Haven, at the mouth of Sarah Creek, opposite Yorktown, accommodating visiting yachts up to 160 feet (9-foot dock depth). The marina's 14-acre rural site is in a natural "hurricane hole," protected from every quadrant. You will also be in the middle of what is known as "America's Historic Triangle" covering Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown.
Continue north along the western shore of the bay and wander up the Potomac to National Harbor, with more than 150 shops, restaurants and hotels (including the 2,000-room Gaylord Hotel) in a vibrant resort complex within sight of the nation's capital. Water taxi service is available to explore nearby Alexandria's Old Town and all of D.C.'s sights. National Harbor will be home to MGM Casino by the end of 2016. National Harbor Marina has floating docks for vessels up to 120 feet and its fixed pier can accommodate yachts up to 200 feet (9-foot dock depth).
Heading back up the bay into Maryland, picturesque Solomons Island is situated near the mouth of the deep- water Patuxent River. Once a waterman's village, Solomons has managed to incorporate 12 restaurants and numerous small shops into a two-mile stretch and still maintain its laid-back lifestyle. In the heart of this little community lies an easily accessible five-star marina and repair facility, Zahniser's Yacht Center accommodating yachts up to 150 feet (14-foot dock depth). Transients mingle with locals at the onsite Dry Dock Restaurant and the Pool Bar & Grill.
Next stop along the Western Shore is Herrington Harbour South in Friendship, Md., accommodating yachts up to 100 feet (7-foot dock depth). Herrington Harbour's resort-like feel will be a perfect stop for recharging your batteries, with an Olympic-size swimming pool, tennis courts, sauna and fitness center.
Head 15 miles north to Maryland's capitol, Annapolis, and be right in the midst of everything while docked at one of the city's marinas that can accommodate yachts up to 230 feet (12-foot dock depth). This historic town is home to the United States Naval Academy, the beautiful Maryland State House and the National Sailing Hall of Fame. For fabulous local seafood, visit Boatyard Bar & Grill and McGarvey's Saloon & Oyster Bar.
The opposite shoreline is dotted with small Eastern Shore towns like Tilghman Island, home to generations of watermen; the New England-style village of Oxford; and the town of St. Michaels, where large yachts can find a home at St. Michaels Marina (accommodating yachts up to 220 feet (9-foot dock depth) . Learn about the history of the bay at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. Historic St. Michaels offers many wonderful restaurant options, such as 208 Talbot, Bistro St. Michaels, and Ava's Pizzeria & Wine Bar. Don't miss the Chesapeake Bay tradition of picking crabs at one of St. Michaels crab houses, such as the Crab Claw or St. Michaels Steak and Crab House. The nearby Inn at Perry Cabin offers a breathtaking waterfront setting and loads of luxury amenities.
Next stop, Baltimore, often called a "collection of neighborhoods" due to the diversity of its communities. World-renowned hospitals, restaurants (ranked #2 on Zagat's "Best Food Cities" list for 2015), First-class museums, thriving arts districts, sports stadiums and casinos blend together to create Charm City. The harbor entrance is still guarded by Fort McHenry, birthplace of the national anthem. Harbor East Marina, can take yachts up to 200 feet (10-foot dock depth) while BMC at Inner Harbor can accommodate vessels up to 350 feet (22-foot dock depth). The marinas are both in a prime location and within walking distance of the Inner Harbor (aquarium, science center, Camden Yards baseball), Little Italy and Fells Point (a spirited historic waterfront community now filled with restaurants, bars, galleries).
While visiting Baltimore, you will find exceptional marine service at Tidewater Yacht Service accommodating yachts up to 200 feet (18-foot dock depth) in nearby Port Covington. ABYC certified technicians and big boat experience make this a reliable service facility. This deep-water marina and boatyard has a history of dealing with commercial vessels and they can supply a tanker-truck of fuel at a great cost.
This spring try cruising through the Chesapeake Bay to experience its exceptional diversity, historical sites, beautiful creeks, rivers, towns and world-class services for superyachts.
There's a bit of pirate in every boater a love of the water, a sense of adventure, and a wink of defiance about following rules. Maybe that's why we're drawn to stories about the swashbucklers who roamed the seas. Movies and folklore tend to focus on pirates of the Caribbean, so most people don't realize that the Chesapeake Bay hosted its share of scallywags and wenches. But why would they choose the waters of Maryland and Virginia when the Atlantic and Caribbean were teaming with treasure-laden ships and ports to plunder?
Several factors made the region a hot-spot for pirates. After months of raiding and pillaging, battle-weary buccaneers ran out of supplies and their ships took a beating. The Bay's isolated necks and coves provided ideal sanctuaries to make repairs and restock stashes of food, water and other necessities.
Plus, pirates also didn't meet much resistance when they cruised into the Bay. In the early 1600s, England and Spain were jockeying for control of the New World, but were often occupied with their own troubles in Europe. Settlers were more concerned about surviving famine, disease and Indian raids.
As the Maryland and Virginia colonies flourished, ships passing through the Bay to and from Europe became filled with treasures that made pirates rub their eye patches in glee. Capturing a merchant ship that carried a cargo of tobacco, food, wine, linens, or gold was cause for wild, and often drunken, celebration.Like a school of piranhas devouring a carcass, pirate crews would strip their prey of sails, rigging and tackle. Sometimes they'd set a crippled vessel ablaze, just to watch it burn. Passengers were forced to join pirate crews or tortured to cough up secrets about royal warships in the area.
If scallywags overtook a ship that was newer or faster than their own, they'd add it to their fleet. This was a huge source of frustration for the Governors of the Colonies, who would convince the king to send battleships to defend their subjects, only to be outgunned and overpowered by invading sea dogs.
Some colonists liked to trade with pirates, exchanging fresh water and provisions for more exotic stolen items such as spices, clothing, or rum. Other colonists became fed up with marauding scoundrels. Take the case of the dreadedMonsieur Peuman, a French privateer infamous for pillaging farms and towns along the Rappahannock River near Port Royal, Va., in the mid-1600s.At wit's end with Peuman's looting, villagers formed a search party to capture the pirate.
When Peuman entered the river, the townsfolk chased his ship upstream. He veered into a creek to evade them but got stuck in shallow water. The angry mob jumped on board, slew the Frenchman, and named the creek Peumansend to mark the place of his demise.
By the late 1600s, England's King James unleashed a brigade of Royal Navy ships to clear out the scoundrels who terrorized the Chesapeake, Caribbean, and Atlantic. In 1684, the King issued a pardon for pirates who turned themselves in to authorities and rejected the pirate way of life.
The previous year, a trio of seasoned privateers named Davis,Wafer, and Hinson had joined Captain John Cook in Accomac, Va., to sail the South Seas. They had attacked and taken towns and ships, crossed the steamy jungles of the Isthmus of Panama on foot, were befriended by savage jungle natives, and wrought unending chaos on the Spanish colonists of Tierre Firme, says Donald Shomette, in Pirates of the Chesapeake. They cruised around the globe, amassing a considerable pirate's bounty along the way.
Captain Cook passed away during the voyage, but the three buccaneers eventually returned to the Chesapeake Bay, hoping to settle down and retire as wealthy men. Near the mouth of the James River, they were apprehended by Captain Rowe of the Dumbarton and tossed in the Jamestown jail. The deal arranged for their freedom required them to hand over their stolen loot, which Virginia authorities used to establish the College of William and Mary.
The Golden Age of Pirates reached a peak from 1690 to 1730. Despite popular perception, Life aboard a sailing ship was anything but comfortable. Seamen lived in cramped and filthy quarters. Rats gnawed through anything, including a ship's hull. Food spoiled or became infested, and fresh water turned foul, says Cindy Vallar, in Pirates and Privateers,The History of Maritime Piracy.
Life expectancy for a Chesapeake privateer was short. Fierce storms sunk scores of ships, and diseases such as scurvy, dysentery, and smallpox ran rampant among the crew. But the opportunity to make a mint in pirate booty and live a life of adventure proved irresistible for many fortune-hunters on the Bay.
One of the most formidable pirates was Blackbeard (aka Edward Teach). According to legend, he captured 40 ships in his day, and his physical appearance sent fear running down his enemies' spines. Blackbeard towered at 6-foot 5-inches, with a jet-black beard that grew down his chest and was braided with brightly colored ribbons. A bandolier crossing his chest with six pistols was the finishing touch to his horrifying attire. He drank rum spiced with gunpowder.
The Eastern Shore was Blackbeard's favorite haunt for mending damaged ships. He roamed as far north as Pennsylvania, but loved to dodge British ships by hiding in Pagan Creek off the James River or in the remote corners of Lynnhaven Bay.
Blackbeard's pillaging days came to a screeching halt in 1719, when Lt. Robert Maynard fatally shot him in a bloody fight off North Carolina's Outer Banks. Maynard severed Blackbeard's head and mounted it on his ship's bow.
For years, the skull hung from a pole where the Hampton and James Rivers meet to warn other pirates of how Chesapeake authorities dealt with unwanted scoundrels.
Blackbeard's unlikely partner in crime was a wealthy landowner, named Stede Bonnet, nicknamed The Gentleman Pirate. Even though Bonnet had no experience in sailing, Blackbeard took him under wing, and the polar opposites shared many a conquest along the Atlantic Coast.
The notorious William Kidd allegedly worked his way through the Chesapeake Bay, too. Originally commissioned as a British privateer, some reports suggest that he got off track and turned to piracy... In 1700, he was arrested, shipped back to England, and sentenced to death. The rope broke during his execution, but a second attempt at hanging finished the job. For years, his body hung above the Thames River in a cage called a gibbet, to discourage others from choosing life as a buccaneer.
Kidd accumulated a hefty fortune during his time on the seas, and a portion of his booty was recently discovered on Long Island. But according to legend, not all of his treasure has been found, because he buried it in various spots on the Mid-Atlantic.
So, the next time you anchor your boat on a remote neck of the Bay, don't be afraid to dig in the sand and look for hidden treasure beneath your feet.
Susan ElnickiWade is author of Crab Decks & Tiki Bars of the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland and Virginia Editions.
Want to read more about sea rascals who plundered the Bay?
The definitive resource is Pirates on the Chesapeake by Donald G. Shomette (Tidewater Publishers, ISBN: 978-0-87033-607-2). But if you'd like travel the Chesapeake waters with other buccaneers, the following tours and festivals will help you unleash your inner-swashbuckler:
Capt. Jack's Pirate Ship Adventures (Virginia Beach), 757-305-9700
Duckaneer Pirate Ship Tours (Ocean City,Md.), 410-289-3500
Pirate Adventures on the Chesapeake (Annapolis), 410-263-0002
Urban Pirates (Baltimore), 410-327-8378
Yorktown Pirate Boat Tour, 757-639-1233
Rock Hall Pirates &Wenches Weekend, (annually in August)
Fells Point Privateer Days, (annually in April)
Chesapeake summers ease you into such a laid-back state of mind that your big decision of the day can be choosing cold beer or crisp wine to accompany a dozen fresh oysters. That cool combo of bivalves washed down with a favorite drink is a beloved Bay ritual. The options were once simple: Natty Boh or Bud for brew fans; red or white for wine lovers. And oysters were only eaten in cold months. Today's Bay oyster scene has evolved dramatically. Now, 100-plus bivalve brands are harvested, and aquafarming makes them available year-round. The steady supply has sparked a raw bar renaissance with new oyster houses opening all over the region.
Could so many choices complicate a relaxing Chesapeake baycation? Not if we can help it. Marinalife teamed up with Chesapeake Oyster Lovers' Handbook to create a pair of oyster tours where Virginia wine and Maryland beer are coupled with local bivalves for a tantalizing bay-to-table event. Visit these 11 destinations and chart a flavorful course for sipping and slurping your way around the Bay.
Pass the Bottle, but Hold the Bubbles Your Chesapeake oyster crawl starts in Virginia amid historic characters, rolling countryside and award-winning wines. Its vino tradition dates back to Thomas Jefferson, and centuries later, more than 250 wineries are curling their vines around 3,500-plus acres of land. The success is partly due to nurturing grapes that thrive here but fail in other places. Local vintners also defy the old adage that champagne and oysters are the ultimate couple. Instead, they pair fine wines with scrumptious bivalves that are cultivated in the same area and complement each other's flavors.
This bivalve quest also takes you to aquaculture sites that are bolstering a lucrative rebirth in the Chesapeake oyster biz and turning Virginia into the East Coast's top seafood producer. Its 2014 season jumped 31 percent by selling more than 40 million oysters, offering a wide range of flavors -- Rappahannocks to briny Chincoteagues. If you're ready for great grape and bivalve adventures, cruise to these five destinations.
When you lounge on the restaurant's deck soaking in a gorgeous view of the Bay, you might see workboats chugging by and gently dropping spats on shells (baby oysters) into the water. It's a pleasant reminder that oyster beds are right in front of the eatery, and you get to witness the infancy of the process that delivers fresh oysters to your table. Usually two or three local bivalve brands are presented with a smooth chardonnay grown about 15 minutes away at Chatham Vineyards. On Watermen Wednesdays, Eastern Shore aquafarmers give talks about their oysters and shuck them for tastings. (theoysterfarmatkingscreek.com)
Where to dock: Cape Charles Yacht Center (757-331-3100, ccyachtcenter.com)
Just a stone's throw from the Atlantic awaits an unforgettable experience where harvesting and eating oysters is not a spectator sport. At this aquafarm, guests tug on tall waterman's waders and step into the Lynnhaven River where briny bivalves lie beneath the waves. With the current swirling between your feet, the Chef 's Table Tour presents a feast of oysters and other local seafood served on tables in the water. Nearby vineyards, such as Boxwood, Williamsburg and Chatham wineries, make bringing your own wine easy. Two other guided tours offer oyster tastings, regional history sessions and hands-on activities with fishpots, oyster cages and aquaculture gear. (pleasurehouseoysters.com)
Where to dock:Long Bay Pointe Boating Resort (757-321-4550, longbaypointemarina.com)
Two 40-foot-tall corkscrews at the entrance welcome guests to an award winning vineyard that specifically cultivates wines to pair with Chesapeake oysters. Bottles of white, rosé and red are sampled in the Wine Stand, while the Oyster Stand dishes out Windmill Point and Kellum oysters, soft-shell crabs and other seasonal seafood. The canine component of the name honors the sweet rescue dogs that roam the grounds to protect grape vines from deer and other hungry critters. Docked nearby is the Faded Glory, a Chesapeake Deadrise workboat that gives tours of oyster beds along Carter's Creek. In early November, the vineyard hosts the Virginia Wine & Oyster Classic, which features 15 of the region's top wineries. (dogandoyster.com)
Where to dock: Tides Inn Marina (804-438-4418, tidesinn.com)
This little hidden gem has played a big role in the Chesapeake oyster resurrection. Merroir is owned by Croxton family members, who were early pioneers in aquafarming and are now growing world-class oysters. Their 250 acres of oyster beds lie just a hundred yards away from the charming eatery. These oysters grow in cages on the Rappahannock River bottom, but when they're pulled from the water, you relish a spectacular farm-to-fork experience that pairs beautifully with Virginia wine. Three types of oysters appear on the menu Rappahannocks (sweet), Stingrays (mild) and Olde Salts (briny) and they're prepared on outdoor grills with a variety of seasonings or presented simply on the half shell. (rroysters.com/restaurants/merroir)
Where to dock:Regent Point Marina and Boatyard (804-758-4457, regentpointmarina.com)
Built in 1730, the luxurious inn overlooks the Potomac River with 1,900 acres of exquisite gardens, fields andforests. Four outstanding wineries are located nearby, creating noteworthy wine and exceptional cuisine. The chef at this oyster haven serves only Chesapeake oysters, often shucked on the half shell, baked with local bacon and parmesan, crispy fried or roasted with wasabi butter. Tasting the paired wine before the oyster is his preference, because guests find it's hard to resist a chilled glass placed on their table. Stratford's September Wine & Oyster Festival is a must-go event. (innatstratfordhall.org)
Where to dock:Nearby at Colonial Beach Yacht Center (804-224-7230, cbycmarina.com)
Let's Raise a Frosty Mug to Brews & Bivalves Migrating north on the second leg of the journey, your oyster quest meanders to Maryland's farmlands, urban pockets and quaint Eastern Shore towns. You'll savor the rewards of folks who blend hops and barley to brew beer that couples well with Bay oysters. The state's long tradition of raising frothy mugs dates back to 1703, when the first brewery opened in Annapolis. From the iconic Natty Boh to today's craft ales, Maryland digs suds with bivalves.
Steamed crabs garner the most notoriety in the Bay's current seafood scene, but oysters have been major players in Maryland's commerce and culture since colonial times. These bivalves grew so abundantly and were devoured so voraciously that towns such as Crisfield and Solomons were built upon discarded shells. By the 1800s, Chesapeake oysters were the delicacy that everyone wanted to bring to their lips. Now, Maryland aquafarmers are rekindling the global oyster mystique by branding Bay bivalves with alluring labels such as Skinny Dippers, Chesapeake Golds and Sweet Jesus oysters. If you want to discover the bliss of beer and bivalves, then head for these six destinations.
Located on the narrow causeway to St. George Island and flanked by the Potomac River and St. George Creek, Ruddy Duck gracefully blends into Southern Maryland's serene landscape. Next to the deck, a solitary loblolly pine guards a secret that's hidden beneath the gorgeous waterfront view: Oysters are growing just beyond the shore under the waves. These sweet bivalves are harvested daily for the restaurant and are a perfect match for the beers made fresh in house. A collection of brews are offered year-round from pale ales to stouts and traditional German festival biers. (ruddyduckbrewery.com)
Where to dock:Haskell's Marina (301-994-1008)
Sailors, yacht owners, engine mechanics and anyone who loves the Chesapeake Bay gather at this lively Eastport pub. Tales of sea adventures and fishing conquests fill the air, while shuckers place fresh oysters on icy trays and bartenders drop the delicate meat into petite shooter glasses. Chilled mugs are filled with an impressive list of beers from across the country, including Maryland-made favorites such as Flying Dog, DuClaw, Fordham Copperhead Ale (from Annapolis) and the Boatyard Lager, specially crafted to highlight thesubtle flavors of oysters harvested in local waters. (boatyardbarandgrill.com)
Where to dock:Annapolis Yacht Basin (410-263-3544, yachtbasin.com)
Discover a destination that toasts Baltimore's industrial heritage while quenching Maryland's thirst for good beer and bivalves. This waterfront seafood house resides in the former facility of Tin Decorating Co., and its towering smokestack used to rise among scores of oyster processing plants that once lined the shore. Today, it hovers above the deck where guests nibble on oysters and watch ships zip around Inner Harbor. A glass case at the bar is filled with Bay bivalves such as Skinny Dippers, Choptank Sweets and Chincoteagues. Happy hour buck-ashuck oysters and Wednesday Craft Draft Night featuring Maryland brewsfit the bill without busting the wallet. Don't forget to check out the Dock Bar at the BoatHouse offering live music weekly. On-site free dockage is available while dining. (boathousecanton.com)
Where to dock: BMC at Lighthouse Point (410-675-8888, bmcmarinas.com)
Barstools around the shucking station at Ryleigh's are among the most coveted seats in the house. That's the best vantage point to gaze at oysters blanketed in ice with little wooden signs heralding local brands such as Shooting Points and Nassawadox Salts. This iconic oyster house offers 10 to 14 types of bivalves, but the favorite is Avery's Pearl. These oysters are custom grown in Hog Island, Va., through a unique restaurant-aquafarm partnership. Maryland brews such as Natty Boh, Evolution IPA and Loose Cannon flow freely, especially during buck-a-shuck Oyster Hour. (ryleighs.com)
Where to dock: Inner Harbor Marina (410-837-5339, baltimoreinnerharbormarina.com)
Across the Bay on the Eastern Shore lies a seafood house beloved by locals for its dedication to regional oysters and beer. Family owned since 1947, it began as a small crab factory and has evolved into the ideal place to sample an ever-changing list of local oysters such as Choptank Sweets, Barren Islands, Holy Grails and Sewansecotts. You can slurp them indoors or on the outdoor deck and beer garden that's decorated with a waterman's mural, tropical plants and colorful umbrellas. Maryland craft brews take center stage, especially bottles of Choptank designed by a Baltimore brewer to match the unique flavors of the Chesapeake. (toddseafood.com)
Where to dock:River Marsh Marina (410-901-6380, hyatt.com)
On the main street of historic St. Michaels stands a lovely Victorian house that has become a prime destination for oyster and beer seekers. Beneath its gingerbread trim hangs an aquaculture cage where oysters once grew in Chesapeake waters. Every day, a raw bar list of a dozen or more types of oysters displays its unique flavors and brand names such as Chesapeake Gold, Sewansecott and Chincoteague. On tap are local ales that include Eastern Shore natives Real Ale Revival from Cambridge and Evolution from Salisbury. Extra bonus: The Eastern Shore Brewing Co. is located a few blocks away with a tasting room. (awfularthursusa.com)
Where to dock:St. Michaels Marina (410-745-2400, stmichaelsmarina.com)
About 14 miles off Virginia's Eastern Shore, oyster aquaculture's cutting-edge science is helping to preserve a traditional way of life on Tangier Island. Richmond native Tim Hickey introduced to local watermen a new oyster farming method growing thousands of oysters in cages along the shore and shipping them to raw bars along the East Coast. That's a big economy boost from a tiny mollusk and a valiant effort to defend a unique part of Chesapeake heritage. For more, go to Tangier Island Oyster Co., tangieroysterco.com.
A spectacular North American cruising ground was shaped by a big bang 35 million years ago when a comet or asteroid slammed into what is now the lower tip of the Delmarva Peninsula. That impact left a crater 55 miles wide that became a convenient depression for rivers to flow into as the glaciers of the last Ice Age melted some 10,000 years ago. The Algonquian word Chesepiooc, meaning at a big river became the source of the name for the estuary now called the Chesapeake.
The attractions of the historic Inner Harbor seaport are within easy walking distance of several marinas. A must-do list includes the National Aquarium and the Maryland Science Center. Tour the USS Constellation, built in 1854, the last sail-only warship built for the U.S. Navy. The lightship Chesapeake offers a fascinating opportunity to discover life aboard a floating lighthouse.
In the Harbor East neighborhood you will find an array of high-end shopping and dining as well as provisioning at Whole Foods. Baltimore Marine Center offer four locations throughout the Inner Harbor and Hendersons Wharf is located in the historic Fells Point neighborhood. Tidewater Yacht Service, Baltimore's premier yacht service facility, is located just west of Ft. McHenry. Fuel can be found at BMC Inner Harbor or BMC Lighthouse Point.
ANNAPOLIS YACHT BASIN-ANNAPOLIS, MD.
A walking tour of historic Annapolis, which is arrayed like spokes in a wheel from the Maryland State House, will delight architectural aficionados. Examples of Federal, Italianate, Georgian, Queen Anne and Greek Revival styles from the colonial period through the early 1900s abound.Good provisioning near the marina is hard to find. The locals' favorite, Graul's Market, with excellent produce, meat and fish is a mile and a half away. However, the marina has rental car and taxi services available to help stock up at Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and Fresh Market. The Annapolis Yacht Basin has fuel and Annapolis Harbor Boat Yard is a full service maintenance yard that is conveniently located on Spa Creek near the historic district.
ST. MICHAELS MARINA-ST. MICHAELS, MD.
For boaters, the focus of this Eastern Shore town is the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum with exhibits, restored vessels and hands-on boatbuilding workshops. It is where James Michener did his primary research for his best selling novel, Chesapeake, 40 years ago. The picturesque streets of St. Michaels are perfect to stroll along while looking for lunch or dinner.Topping off provisions is easily done within walking distance of the marina at Olivins, a gourmet grocery, or Acme supermarket. Fuel is available at St. Michaels Marina. Higgin's Yacht Yard is the last full-service boatyard in existencein town.
BREWER OXFORD BOAT YARD & MARINA-OXFORD, MD.
Oxford's main attraction is the town itself. It is one of the oldest towns in Maryland, officially founded in 1683. The charming, tree-lined village is a quiet antidote to the hustle and bustle of city life.The Oxford Market, a convenience store, is the only spot in town to buy any essentials for provisioning. If you need fresh fish and seafood, watch for the watermen when they bring their catch in early in the day. The marina is also a full-service boat yard, with gas and diesel available. Hinckley Yacht Services also has a full-service yard in town. Both Brewer and Hinckley provide quality work and craftsmanship.
ZAHNISER'S YACHTING CENTER-SOLOMONS, MD.
Located at the mouth of the Patuxent River, Solomons Island was famous for its wooden sloops, schooners and bugeyes, built for the island's fishing fleet. Today, visitors come to see the Calvert Marine Museum and the restored Drum Point screw pile lighthouse exhibit.Zahniser's Yachting Center is an institution on the Chesapeake for boat owners. Not only do they have a full-service boat yard and marina, they also boast a swimming pool with a bar and grill for transient boaters. The pool is a fine summer's treat after a day on the water. For additional provisioning, Zahniser's provides a car with a driver to the nearest grocery store. Gas and diesel can be taken on at nearby Solomons Yachting Center or Spring Love Marina.
PARKS MARINA-TANGIER ISLAND, VA.
Tangier Island is the home of working watermen who get up well before dawn to get their boats ready for crabbing and oystering. The island is most well known for its soft shell crab, for which it claims to be the world capital. With a total population of about 700, most who live there can trace their ancestry back to a handful of families. The small settlement is unique to the Chesapeake and wandering its lanes is the ideal way to pass the time after lunch or dinner at one of the two local restaurants. And, of course, order soft shell crab and crab cakes.Parks Marina is just across the harbor channel from the many crabbing shacks built on stilts along the shore. The marina is owned and operated by 85-year-old Milton Parks, and is a simple affair with fixed docks, pilings and a faded signboard. Milton gladly offers advice on how to dock in the strong current and, once your boat is tied up, he will spin many a story of the island's inhabitants and history. Daley & Sons is the only grocery store on the island. There are no repair or fueling services for recreational boaters on Tangier Island, but in a pinch a waterman may be able to provide some assistance.
TIDES INN MARINA-IRVINGTON, VA.
While at the marina, it is well worth taking advantage of all Tides Inn has to offer. The resort was developed from a waterfront farm 70 years ago, and today its outstanding amenities make it a premier resort. Play a round of golf on the Golden Eagle Golf Course or try classic treatments at a Chesapeake Bay inspired spa. Just a 10-minute walk from the marina is the Steamboat Era Museum, paying homage to the steamboats that connected the waterfront communities on the bay from 1813 until 1937.The best option for provisioning is the Tri-Star Supermarket located about 5 miles from the marina. And both diesel and gasoline are available at the marina's fuel dock. Rappahannock Yachts is a family-owned full-service boatyard on Carters Creek, close to the marina.
CAPE CHARLES YACHT CENTER-CAPE CHARLES, VA.
Some cruisers who have visited this revived, historic railroad town on Virginia's Eastern Shore say it's one of the Mid-Atlantic's best-kept secrets. Life is easy in this inviting bayside town, with bikes and golf carts sufficing for transportation and menus heavy with local seafood. With most of its structures built between 1885 and 1920, Cape Charles has one of the largest concentrations of restored late-Victorian and turn-of-the-century buildings on the East Coast. Many of these beautiful structures are now transformed into bed and breakfasts, galleries and specialty boutiques.The Gull Hammock Gourmet Market and Drizzles are two high-quality groceries for additional provisioning. They are adjacent to the historic district and conveniently located on your way back from the beach to your boat. At Cape Charles Yacht Center, yachts have full access to nearby Bay Creek Resort, featuring a Beach Club pool as well as two signature golf courses designed by Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.
Capt. Jeff Werner has been in the yachting industry for over 25 years. In addition to working as a captain on private and charter yachts, both sail and power, he is a certified instructor for the USCG, US Sailing, RYA and the MCA. He is also the Diesel Doctor, helping to keep your yacht's fuel in optimal condition for peak performance. For more information, call 239-246-6810, or visit MyDieselDoctor.com. All Marinalife members receive a 10% discount on purchases of equipment, products and supplies from Diesel Doctor.