We continue our journey up the Chesapeake Bay with an overnight stop in Still Pond Bay. It is a quiet area with good anchorage. As usual, we dropped anchor and rafted all three boats together.
Michael wanted to drive the dinghy and I wanted to practice my beaching skills so we took the dinghy out and headed to the beach. It reminded me of home with its rocky shore and unique rock formations and greenery. The shoreline was dotted with flowers that were extremely fragrant. It was a nice stroll exploring the shoreline and getting whiffs of the flowers on the breeze.
As a finale for a nice day, a sunset tucked us in for the evening.
We woke and headed to Steve’s for our morning coffee and coffee cake that I purchased in St. Michaels. After filling our bellies and getting adequately caffeinated, we left Annapolis and headed to Rock Hall, MD.
The Waterman’s restaurant in Rock Hall has a dock for use for their patrons. We pulled in, headed straight to the restaurant and got seats on the patio within sight of our boats. The celebration wasn’t complete without costumes, so I whipped out our pirate hats and we proceeded to eat, drink, and be merry.
Once our bellies were full, everyone returned to our boat for a traditional Smith Island Cake that I purchased in St. Michaels. It was so tasty!
Overall, a wonderful birthday celebration in the little town of Rock Hall.
I can’t recall if I’ve blogged about Lil Sudden’s inverter. Both Lil Sudden and Saga had inverters installed to help our power situation. Unfortunately, Lil Sudden’s inverter had a manufacturer defect and they had to ship it to Tennessee. Since then, they’ve been limping on limited power unless they were plugged in on the dock. Well, after months without their inverter, one was scheduled to be sent. Annapolis was the location selected to have it sent to so we altered our travel plans and headed for Annapolis.
Thanks to recip benefits from our boating club membership, we were able to stay at the Eastport Yacht Club for a discounted rate (it’s usually $4/foot for dock space in Annapolis).
We took a few hours and walked around the historic area of the town, then returned to the boats to watch the weekly sailboat race. The water was covered in sailboats with their bright sails unfurled.
Unfortunately, the inverter delivery was delayed and it was now expected to arrive next Tuesday (it is currently Wednesday).
The next morning, we decided it would be best to continue on with our plans and then get a rental car from another location and drive to Annapolis when it arrives.
We’ve been zig zagging across the Chesapeake going from one town to another. There is so much to see and do, but not enough time.
Saint Michaels was next on our Must Visit list. When reviewing the Great Loop Facebook page, there was discussion on a few loopers’ anchors dragging; however, those people were on the north side of town and we were going to anchor in the southern side.
We thought to be safe, we would put out a little extra chain (or all of it). 175 feet of chain in 10 feet of water later, we were rafted up and secure. A few other looper boats joined us in the bay as well including Bama Breeze, Beach Side, Pu Hana, and eventually Fika.
The anchorage was great. The only possible issue was the number of crabbing boats cruising by. I’ve never seen this manner of crabbing. They’d drop a weighted line with little sandbag-like-bags that the crabs would grab onto. The fishermen would come by and pick up the line, catching the crabs at the surface with a net or basket. We weren’t bothered by them and it was fun to watch this method of crabbing.
Up the bay was a small dinghy dock that was a few blocks from the heart of town. The town itself is a grid pattern around a central square. The streets are lined with cute houses and shops as well as a museum and waterfront. This is one of my favorite towns so far.
What makes this town interesting, besides sharing a name with my son Michael, is its role in the War of 1812. The British was planning on attacking St. Michaels, but the town knew of this plan and hung lanterns in trees beyond the town. When the British attacked at night, they saw the lights and overshot the town. Only one cannonball hit a house and the town became known as “the town that fooled the British.”
Our first day arriving in St. Michaels, we headed to town to see a distillery and do some wine tasting. I also tried some Chesapeake Gold cheese which was delicious. The first winery, St. Michael’s Winery, had an amazing selection and I went home with some Gollywobbler Peach. I loved the taste and the name. Apparently, a Gollywobbler is a staysail set between the foremast and mainmast of a schooner.
The second winery, Bordeleau, wasn’t bad, but their tasting fee was a little on the higher side ($18 for 5 pours). Thankfully, the pours were generous, but I didn’t bring any home.
The Windon distillery made delicious Lyon Rum. We enjoyed sampling many flavors and types, but my favorite was the coconut rum.
The rest of our stay included walking, shopping, exploring, eating, and even a day of swimming in the bay. After many locals recommending Avas, we went for dinner with a bunch of other loopers. It was great getting to know more people and sharing travel tips.
Here are some photos of our exploration:
When leaving in the morning, we watched the crabbing boats slowly boat around. I was a little concerned with where their lines may rest and discovered one was caught on our anchor when we started pulling her up. A little nudge with a boat hook released it and we were on our way to our next destination. Sadly there were no crabs attached to the line.
Solomons Island is surprisingly fun with so much to do. We anchored in a peaceful spot around the corner from the main town that allowed space for kayaking and a quick dinghy ride to many different areas.
The island is a major boating center located at the mouth of the Patuxent River in Maryland. It reminded me a lot of Gig Harbor with restaurants and docks along the water and a lot of small pleasure boaters zooming around.
The 13th is Steve’s birthday. We started the morning with coffee on Steve’s boat and presented him with his gifts. The day continued with dressing in Hawaiian theme clothing and Leis while taking Steve to lunch at a nice Italian restaurant. The celebrations continued with drinks at the Tiki Bar. Unfortunately, it started raining so our festivities were cut a little short with a wet dinghy ride back to the boats.
While anchored out, we also met a few other Loopers. Fika was in their dingy and came over to say hello. They have two kids a little younger than Annette and Michael. The kids all hung out for a bit while we visited.
While leaving for lunch, we noticed another dinghy in the water with Fika. They had just completed the Loop and were coming to say hello. We joined them on the water for a quick meet and greet.
May 14, 2023
It’s Mother’s Day. We pulled anchor and moved the boats to the Tiki Bar dock. The boys had projects and work to do and I wanted to see the sculpture garden. The garden was a long walk away, but Boris found a possible dock we could take the dinghy to. The kids, Tonia, and I loaded into the dinghy and headed out. Unfortunately, the dock was private and not in great shape so we had to nix that idea. Feeling bummed, we turned around, only to be surprised by a fever of sting rays swimming.
After some oohs and ahs, we went to the Calvert Marine Museum, explored their exhibits, and toured the Drum Point Lighthouse. Drum Point Lighthouse is a screw-pile cottage-type lighthouse and is only one of four remaining from forty-five that once served the Chesapeake Bay. It is complete with furnishings of the early twentieth century. It’s incredible imaging what it would have been like living in one. After our tour, we returned to the boats and we had drinks at the Tiki Bar where we met another Looper (Bama Breeze)
Below are some images of our wanderings around Solomons Island.
We’ve entered Maryland and the Crab Capitol of the state. Crisfield is an industrial town centered around the blue crab. Images of crabs can be spotted throughout town on buildings, wind turbines, and water towers. I found a company selling crab claws by the 3 pounds for an affordable price and feasted.
We stayed on the dock at Somers Cove Marina. The marina was nice with a courtesy shuttle, dog walk park, bike and golf cart rental, and even a slice of Smith Cake.
I wanted to visit Smith Island to get Smith Island Cake, but it wouldn’t work with the narrow, shallow channels. Instead, we ate the cake on Crisfield. The cake is the State Dessert of Maryland and traditionally consists of 8 to 10 layers of yellow cake with chocolate frosting between each layer and slathered over the whole. There are other flavor renditions of this cake.
We also met a few Loopers on the dock, but my back was still hurting so I wasn’t very social.
Tangier is a remote island accessible by air or sea. The narrow streets are traveled mostly by bicycles and golf carts and are dotted with small homes and shops. Stepping foot onto the island is like stepping back in time.
John Smith was the first European to explore the island in 1608 and the people made their livelihood by crabbing and oystering.
We anchored near a long sandspit on the south end of the island. Surrounded by crab traps, we found a clear spot to settle in for the day. Michael and I kayaked to the beach and enjoyed a nice stroll in the sand.
Later, we took the dinghy into town. As we first approached, we passed hundreds of crab traps that dotted the water’s surface. Following a narrow channel, we arrived in town surrounded by small shacks and docks on the water and finally reaching land.
While strolling around, we did notice that many of the homes have gravestones in their front yard. This is due to:
Closer proximity of burying a loved one allowed the grave to be more easily cared for and visited.
Placing the grave close to the home reduced the risk of grave-robbery, which was a common problem in the 1800’s.
Animals were less likely to dig up graves when in such locations.
Higher ground near a home was less likely to result in a casket being floated to the surface by rising tides.
The locals also speak a distinctive dialect of Southern American English which many believe is what the original colonists may have sounded like.
We did find a Sea Hawks fan identified with a sticker on their golf cart.
While the water was calm during the day, we had a horrible experience at night. The wind blew over and the waves were rolling. As all three boats were rafted, we kept rocking and banging against each other. The option of untying and moving away wasn’t an option as we were surrounded by crab traps and didn’t want to risk getting a line caught around a propeller. Instead, no one slept while we kept adjusting fenders and lines. Any opportunity to drift off to sleep would be interrupted with the banging of lines against the hull, splashing of water between the boats, or fenders rubbing. The video below doesn’t due the experience justice.
5 am and sunrise couldn’t come soon enough. Once there was enough light to see, we all untied, pulled anchor, and left for our next stop.
The adventure continues up the Chesapeake Bay with our next stop in Deltaville, VA. I feasted on a Low Country Boil and we all chilled at the anchorage. The evening graced us with a lightning show that I videoed in slow motion.
The problem with anchoring out is trying to figure out how to access shore. Most of the time, we find a dinghy dock and/or pay a dock fee. I noticed that we were located next to Fishing Bay Yacht Club. They were kind enough to let us use their dock for the dingy as well as their shower facilities and picnic tables.
Matt, Steve, and I took the folding bikes to shore to run errands and provision. The ride out was fine, but the return trip was more challenging riding with fully loaded backpacks; I somehow tweaked my back and am in a bit of pain.
We’ve deviated from the itinerary a little, but that’s ok. The itinerary was to be an idea of where we would like to be. Instead, the weather and our interests play a major role in where we actually go.
We anchored just past the mooring field, which looked like giant Holy Hand Grenades and was able to take the dinghy into town.
With our homeschool curriculum being the colonizing of our country, I wanted to take a trip to Yorktown, VA. Yorktown, established in 1691, was one of the original 13 colonies. The town included homes lining Main Street, taverns, and other little shops. These buildings have now been converted to shops and cafes. A notable house is that of Thomas Nelson, Jr., signer of the Declaration of Independence.
Another interesting part of Yorktown is that it also witnessed the last battle of the American Revolution.
Touring around the town, we enjoyed seeing the old buildings, the fortresses, and remnants of the town being a thriving tobacco port. We were also able to make use of the free trolly.
On our final day there, we took a quick trip to the beach and played in the water. There were a few jellyfish, but we were able to navigate around them.
We are trying to keep our traveling down to 3 hours or less a day as we make our way up the Chesapeake Bay. Our next planned stop was Deltaville, but it was 6 hours a way. Not wanting to move that long, Matt found an anchorage in Hampton which was half way. Once arriving in Hampton, we were pleasantly surprised with all that it had to offer.
Tonia discovered the area was home to Fort Monroe and Battery Irwin. We had a history lesson while climbing around the battery and walking the walls of the fort. The shoreline is also where the first documented Africans arrived in Virginia abord the White Lion. I was just teaching the kids about this in homeschool! This is also where the Confederate President Jefferson Davis was confined.
Most of the forts that we’ve come across had dried up moats and vacant buildings. This fort, however, had a moat, cars coming inside and buildings used as residences.
Next to the fort was the Battery and other historic buildings and markers.
While wandering around, we spotted an old firehouse that has been converted into an ice cream shop. We had to do some taste testing of course.
At the end of our tour of the fort, we found a post card with a picture of an Oozlefinch. It is the Mascot of the Coats Artillery and flies backwards in order to keep dust out of his eyes and is so bashful, he swallows himself when he sees someone.
We were so amused by this bird, that when Tonia discovered a brewery nearby with the same name, we had to go check it out. The brewery was family and pet friendly offering a variety of beverages including boozy sodas and slushies. it was the perfect way to end our day.