St. Michaels remains a perennial boaters favorite for its sheer beauty and well-roundedness. It has picturesque streets lined with vintage homes leading to a gorgeous harbor and charming storefronts, trendy retailers and fine art galleries.
St. Michaels also has spas and retreats for pampering and many restaurants to choose from including fine dining to waterfront crab houses to gourmet brasseries. You can rent a bike from the marina or enjoy walking along the picturesque streets of St. Michaels. And yes, it even has the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and the St. Michaels Museum on St. Mary’s Square.
Tucked away on the Miles River along the Chesapeake Bay's eastern shore is the quaint town of St. Michaels, Md. This charming seaside spot dates back to the mid-1600s, when it served as a trading post for tobacco farmers and trappers. Its colonial roots are still much in evidence, as the streets are dotted with beautiful historic homes.
Centrally located in the heart of town is St. Michaels Marina, which has been family owned and operated since 1982 --- the current owner is Michael Morgan, who purchased the marina from his father in 2006.
As you approach the docks of St. Michaels Marina, you are instantly put at ease. Dockhands jump aboard in their matching Under Armour attire to tie up vessels, then immediately secure any electric and water hookups. "We offer a high level of customer service, and handle every want and need with a smile," says Morgan. In the morning, complimentary newspapers are delivered to each boat at the marina. Many guests choose to spend part of the day unwinding poolside and soaking up the summer sun (they'll even clean your sunglasses). Staff are at the ready with cool towels, and on holiday weekends the marina even offers foot massages! Get in line.
St. Michaels Marina is a state-of-the-art facility with 54 transient slips for vessels up to 225 feet. In addition to theaforementioned swimming pool, there is also a marine store, pump-out services, fuel dock, newly renovated shower and restroom facilities, courtesy car, and brand-new bicycle rentals.
And you may very well want to make use of those bike rentals, because once you've docked the marina staff will issue you a guide to all the don't-miss attractions in the captivating town. Explore the many art galleries and shops, and save time to sample the stand-out eateries. Local favorites include St. Michaels Crab & Steak House, The Town Dock Restaurant and Foxy's Harbor Grille, both of which are a short stroll from the marina. In town, stop by the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, loaded with fascinating exhibits. If you'd prefer to spend your time on the water, swing by the Shore Pedal & Paddle outpost at the marina to rent kayaks or stand-up paddleboards. Whether you're docking just for the day or staying for the weekend, St. Michaels Marina is the perfect Chesapeake Bay getaway. "Tie up and unwind. We'll do the rest," says owner Michael Morgan.
I always thought that someday I would retire, buy a boat and travel down the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) with my wife. Even though I'm not retired yet, I bought a 3470 Glacier Bay Catamaran, Almost There, in September 2013, and the opportunity to take the trip became a reality. I traveled from Baltimore to Key Largo, Florida with my two retired friends, John and Denny, both of whom readily volunteered once they found out they wouldn't have to pay for fuel. Instead of writing my story about the food I ate and things that broke on the boat, I would find more interesting things along the way. 1,350 miles, 1,600 gallons of fuel and 80 engine hours later, this is the tale of our journey.
There were a few things to organize before we left, such as power cords and hoses, but that was simple compared to figuring out which switch did what. We cruised around 15-17 knots, which is a nautical term for slow, making our way to St. Michaels Marina located on the Miles River. They have a terrific Maritime Museum, where they restore and display a variety of boats used by watermen of the Chesapeake.
We re-entered the Chesapeake Bay from the Miles River to a glowing blue sky with John noting that we were, as lucky as a twodollar hound dog on Elvis Presley Day. We did see a slew of fishing boats in the shallows of the Chesapeake, an abandoned ghost ship fully out of the water and a lot of water
Most of the bridges that we would have to go through, including the Great Bridge Lock in Chesapeake, Va., are timed perfectly so that you can go through one and then just miss the next one. It would take all day to go 50-miles! The heat grew, and as we wilted, we decided to test the generator. Good thing we did. The generator was overheating and had no coolant in it. When it still wouldn't work after filling it, we had a good drill closing and reopening the boat to try and cool off. Just as we decided to speed up so we could get a breeze, we hit a no-wake zone and finally arrived at Coinjock.
This is one big state. When we awake tomorrow we will still be in North Carolina. Just before entering the Pamlico Sound, which runs just inside Cape Hatteras, we saw a huge school of bait being chased by a pod of Porpoise.
Upon arrival into Morehead City, we tried the generator again. It ran a bit rough but we thought that it would be OK until we noticed smoke. Now we have the interest of everyone in the marina. It seems that if there is a boat with something wrong, everyone shows up to help you. With some help we were able to rescue the generator so we started the next run outside from Beaufort Inlet to the Frying Pan Shoals, a long shifting area of shoals off the coast of Cape Fear, North Carolina.
Departing out of Cape Fear Inlet, we progressed southwest on the ICW, and we passed Charleston Harbor, where Fort Sumter was flying the flag at half-staff for 9/11. To make up for lost time, we traveled the 200 miles to Beaufort.
Departing Beaufort, we were on our way past Parris Island and into the Atlantic Ocean. The seas were flat as we hummed along for hours. We passed though a Right Whale Conservation zone, where you are not to approach any of the Right Whales within 500 yards. The reason they were named Right Whales was because they were the right ones to kill back in the days of the whaling industry. We soon arrived at St. Mary's Inlet, and docked in Fernandina Beach.
We departed from Fernandina Beach and decided to stay on the ICW. After hours of no-wake zones, we managed to get to the outside, where the running was faster. After 1,000 miles of traveling on the ocean, we pulled into the Ponce Inlet and docked at the Inlet Harbor Restaurant & Marina just north of New Smyrna Beach. A half-mile walk brought us across the island to the beach, where we went for our first swim.
Off we went, and every couple of hours we would check our distance and fuel levels. The flat seas allowed us to choose any inlet, so we refueled in Jupiter, Florida. 200 gallons of fuel and a half hour later, we were back in the ocean. Record time!
On arrival into Government Cut by the port of Miami, I felt as if I had lost steering. We anchored right inside the west side of Star Island when we noticed the completely broken steering arm. This coincided with a catastrophic failure (the manuals words not ours) of all throttle and controls. After an elaborate rigging of lines, we were able to hold the throttle and steering on both engines to run at cruising speed. We didn't slow down or move anything until we were 100 yards from my home canal in Key Largo.The only thing I learned from our 10-day voyage was that I was wrong. Not about how much fun the trip would be, the friends who joined me or the boat I bought. I was wrong thinking I wouldn't write like every seaman's eventful journey about the people I met, food we ate and how we managed the breakdowns in between. In the end, it's about similar experiences that help bind you to the marine community.
Sited on the banks of Carter Creek where it flows into the Rappahannock River, Irvington boasts deep, protected waters and a quaint Colonial ambiance. The village once thrived as a stop for steamboats carrying goods and travelers across southern Chesapeake Bay, which is why The Steamboat Era Museum here is so popular today. For more history, head to Christ Church (finished in 1735), where you can tour one of the nation's finest examples of Georgian architecture. Hit the farmers' market for fresh seafood, meat and vegetables or visit one of the vineyards in the area. Dock at The Tides Inn Marina.
Chesapeake Bay possesses a seemingly endless array of temptations for boaters, yet St. Michaels remains a perennial favorite for its sheer beauty and well-roundedness. Yes, it has picturesque streets lined with vintage homes leading to a gorgeous harbor. Yes, is has charming storefronts, trendy retailers and fine art galleries. Yes, it has spas and retreats for pampering and relaxation. Yes, it has fine dining from waterfront crab houses to gourmet brasseries. And yes, it even has the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and the St. Michaels Museum on St. Mary's Square. What's not to love? Dock at St. Michaels Marina or at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, a members-only marina.
The entire city of Cape May is designated a National Historic Landmark due to its unprecedented concentration of Victorian buildings. It's also called the nation's oldest seashore resort and has all the trappings to back it up, including a two-mile boardwalk paralleling the beach with arcades, seafood joints and shopping galore. Cape May makes a great base for outdoor fun bird-watching, boat tours, dolphin cruises, kayaking and canoeing and the Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum is just a short cab ride away. Dock at South Jersey Marina or Canyon Club Resort Marina.
This village at the eastern end of Long Island's North Fork is modest and casual with the look and feel of an authentic whaling town. Vessels of all sizes are moored in the deep-water harbor, seagulls soar overhead, and, occasionally, there's a whiff of fried clams on the air. From the waterfront, you can walk to restaurants, shops and even a vintage carousel. Visit the East End Seaport Museum & Marine Foundation and the famous S.T. Preston and Son Chandlery for some nautical seasoning. Dock at Mitchell Park Marina or Brewer Yacht Yard at Greenport.
Well known as an old shipbuilding town, Mystic is also home to some of the finest modern marine facilities on Long Island Sound. There's plenty to do, particularly for those cruising with kids. The waterside streets are lined with shops, galleries and restaurants, and there's also a planetarium and children's museum. No trip here is complete without a tour of Mystic Seaport, the nation's leading maritime museum or the Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration. Dock at Mystic Shipyard, Brewer Yacht Yard at Mystic or Seaport Marine.
The Vineyard, as locals call it, is the bigger, more outgoing sister of Nantucket. The island is closer to Cape Cod, making it a more convenient, and is adorned with picturebook beaches, elegant inns, and upscale dining and shopping, which draw celebrities and serious vacationers alike. Brightly painted gingerbread cottages line the streets of Oak Bluffs (also the home of the Flying Horses, the oldest working carousel in the U.S.). Visit Aquinnah Beach to see the famous color-streaked cliffs there. Dock at Oak Bluffs Marina, Vineyard Haven Marina or Edgartown Town Docks.
The world's former top whaling port is now a remote summer vacation spot with a serene seaside look and feel. Restaurants and boutique stores line the streets of Nantucket Town, where you will also find the majority of dining and nightlife options, and the Museum of Nantucket History includes exhibits on the history of the island. Beachcombing, swimming, surfing and fishing are all glorious ways to spend a day, or a week, here. Bring your bike, too, as that is the best way to get around the 50-square-mile island. Dock at Nantucket Boat Basin.
Boston is one of the oldest cities in the U.S. and has an amazingly rich history and culture. You can still visit where many of the crucial events of the American Revolution occurred along the Freedom Trail, which is marked by a red line of bricks embedded in the ground. The Inner Harbor is home to the USS Constitution at the Charlestown Navy Yard as well as the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum at Fort Point Channel. It also offers the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area and numerous waterfront restaurants. Dock at The Boston Yacht Haven, Constitution Marina or Marina Bay.
It's the Maine coast as it was meant to be. Lobster boats and schooners ply the harbor in front of a charming downtown studded with locally owned shops, galleries, seafood eateries and cafes there's even a beautiful public library right on the waterfront. Take a day-trip to the outlying islands and their 18 lighthouses, or head inland and experience Camden Hills State Park, a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts featuring 30 miles of scenic hiking and mountain biking trails, breathtaking views of the surrounding hills and lakes and well maintained campgrounds. Dock at Wayfarer Marine.
Dotted with historic homes and featuring the nation's third-tallest monument, the 352-foot Doric column Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial, this village on South Bass Island is Americana at its best. It ranks in the top five confectionary destinations in the state, and its largest souvenir shop reportedly has 1,000 items with the town's name on it. Enjoy winery tours, park tours, cave tours and home tours via rented golf cart, or spend your days kayaking, parasailing, fishing, biking, hiking or golfing. It's the quintessential choose-your-own-adventure family vacation spot. Dock at Miller Marina or The Crew's Nest.
The world's largest freshwater island, Manitoulin in northern Lake Huron has been called a place of convergence. Indeed, history, culture and natural beauty merge in the two-dozen settlements spread across its 1,000 square miles of boreal forest, bluffs and meadows. The Holy Cross Mission and Ruins in Wikemikong commemorates early Jesuit visits to the island, which began around 1648. Sheguiandah holds a prehistoric quarry that has yielded stone pools and arrowheads dating back 9,000 years. Gore Bay, one of the larger communities, offers modern amenities such as shopping, restaurants and facilities for tennis and golf. Dock at Spider Bay Marina in Little Current.
With its megawatt downtown and world-famous attractions, it's not surprising to see the Windy City listed here. Navy Pier, once a shipping and military training facility, is now a major tourist draw with 50 acres of promenades, shops, eateries and amusements. Shoreline Sightseeing operates nine touring boats and 11 water taxis that offer guided skyline tours, fireworks cruises, and special events such as Brew Cruises and Wine Tasting Cruises. Then, of course, there's Michigan Avenue, Shedd Aquarium, Millennial Park, the Field Museum of Natural History and much more. Dock at DuSable Harbor, Burnham Harbor or 31st Street Harbor.
The hundreds of islands breaching the sparkling blue waters here are everything you've heard rugged, wild and richly fertile in scenery. May through September is the ideal time to visit, when the weather is mild and the whales (orcas, mainly) are on the move. You can take advantage of the many lovely resorts and lodges, the attractions of the charming seaside towns, or simply find your way to remote anchorages and deserted bays. Dock at Port of Friday Harbor on San Juan Island or Deer Harbor Marina on Orcas Island.
Forget those soggy sandwiches in the cooler and leave your can opener in the drawer. The Chesapeake Bay offers a simpler and healthier way to feed your crew. Farmers' markets are sprouting up all around the region as part of the field-to-table craze. Fresh meats, artisan cheeses, homemade breads and vegetables just plucked from the soil provide a nourishing alternative to fast-food feeding frenzies.Plus, these outdoor marketplaces are pet friendly and much more entertaining for kids than a boring grocery or convenience store. Live music, chef demonstrations, home-spun crafts and recreational activities lend a festive feel to buying organic items for your galley. Here are 11 farmers' markets located near or on the Chesapeake Bay, where shopping is fun and growers are friendly.
Open May 1 to Nov. 20, Sunday 8 a.m. to noon. but closed during boat shows. Located on Compromise and Main streets at the City Dock in downtown Annapolis. This waterfront market supports farmers and producers from the Mid-Atlantic region.
Where to Dock: Annapolis City Dock
Open May 6 to the end of Oct., Friday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Located in the parking lot of the former Cambridge City Hall and Guernsey County Courthouse. Special events include children's activities, tastings, cooking demonstrations and nutritional clinics. (cambridgemainstreet.com)
Where to Dock: River Marsh Marina
Open early May to Oct., Friday and Saturday 8 a.m. to noon. Located across from Ewing Pond Park and Grasonville Elementary School. Eastern Shore growers, producers and artisans present local seasonal products in a lively rural setting.
Where to Dock: Piney Narrows Yacht Haven
Open May 7 to Nov. 26, Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (closed May 21 and Oct. 15). Located between Boyle and Webster streets overlooking Inner Harbor. In addition to fresh food and artisan wares, this urban market offers live music and family activities. (thebmi.org)
Where to Dock: Baltimore Marine Center at Harborview
Open May 7 to Nov. 19, Saturday 9 a.m. to noon. Located in Hutchins Park at the base of Congress Avenue overlooking the Chesapeake Bay. Founded in 1995, the market hosts 25 local vendors from beekeepers to pie makers, BBQ chefs and organic farmers. (havredegracefarmersmarket.com)
Where to Dock: Tidewater Marina
Open May to Dec. on the first Saturday of the month from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Located in Irvington Commons behind Chesapeake Bank. The bustling market has a festival vibe with live entertainment and 100-plus vendors presenting local seafood, fresh meat and produce, dairy and baked goods, crafts, artwork and more.
Where to Dock: Tides Inn
Open Jan. to May, Saturday 9 a.m. to noon, June to Sept., Saturday 8 a.m. to noon, and Oct. to Dec., Saturday 9 a.m. to noon. Located at the corner of 19th Street and Cypress Avenue in the parking lot of Croc's 19th Street Bistro. This market provides an assortment of local delicacies ranging from fresh produce and meats to flowers and Virginia wines. (oldbeachfarmersmarket.com)
Where to Dock: Cavalier Golf & Yacht Club
Open May 7 to Oct. 31, 9 a.m. to noon. Located across from the post office about a block off the water between the north and central branches of Onancock Creek. Established in 2012, this venue gives local watermen, farmers and artisans the chance to show off their fresh seasonal products. (onancockmarket.com)
Where to Dock: Onancock Marina
Open May to Oct., Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Nov. to Dec., 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Located in the courtyard garden of Portsmouth's historic courthouse, and a few blocks off the Elizabeth River. Chef and artist presentations, as well as kids' activities and a variety of vendors, make this market especially fun. (portsmouthfarmersmarket.com)
Where to Dock: Tidewater Yacht Marina
Open April 16 to Oct. 8, Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Located in the public parking lot behind Shore BBQ,between Talbot and Fremont streets. Established in 1998, this waterfront market showcases seasonal foods and offers cooking demonstrations by local chefs.
Open May 14 to Oct. 29 (except Oct. 1), Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Located between Buckner and Ballard streets on Riverwalk Landing on the York River. The 10th annual market hosts 35-plus farmers, vendors andartists throughout the season with a variety of homegrown favorites. (yorktownmarketdays.com)
Where to Dock: York River Yacht Haven