The Northern Chesapeake Bay

I know. It's been a couple of weeks since we've done any kind of update on the blog. It isn't because we haven't been anywhere or doing anything. It's because we have been doing so much and having such a good time doing it, we haven't had a lot of time to write. We've also had a few issues that needed our attention that we didn't expect. This post should bring us up to date. When we last posted we were in Baltimore's Inner Harbor at Fells Point. On our final day, we pulled off the dock just after sunrise and headed out the Patapsco River. Little did we know that our planned stay at our destination of a couple of days would stretch out to a couple of weeks.

As the Baltimore skyline faded on our stern, we passed under the Key Bridge and headed for the open Bay. The only other vessel on the river this early in the morning was a working tug near the Sparrows Point Shipyard. Even the usual busy watermen were absent, and it was nice to have the river to ourselves. As we rounded the shallow bar off North Point, Beach House turned northeast toward the Sassafras River. The wind was forecast to pick up, from the north of course, and we wanted to be in the river before that happened. The ship channel north was as empty as the river and we passed to the east of Hart-Miller Island, and farther north, Pooles Island. By 11:30 am, we dropped anchor on the Sassafras River about a mile before Georgetown and the marina area on the river.

The reason for this trip was to attend an AGLCA (Americas Great Loop Cruisers Association) get-together at Sassafras Harbor Marina. The get-together was scheduled for the weekend and this was only Friday. The plan was to spend the rest of the day and evening at anchor and move to the marina the next morning. The Sassafras is another of those waterways that we have visited and fallen in love with. There is an anchorage around every corner, many with protection from almost any wind direction, and the scenery is spectacular. And, of course, there were the ever present small boats running back and forth at full speed to make most of the anchorages rolly from their wakes. I just don't get it. The only saving grace is that when the sun goes down, they all go home. Well, most of them.

Next morning we tied up at the marina, checked in and met some of the folks that would be in attendance for the weekend. This was a small get-together with about 9 boats and 15 to 20 people attending. These rendezvous are all about sharing information, in this case about the Great Loop, telling tall tales and generally socializing. It's a chance to meet new people and sometimes make lasting friendships. This happened to us and is why we attend these functions. The schedule usually includes a happy hour with hors d'oeuvres, dinner and some form of presentation, all with a great group of people. This weekend was no exception and everyone seemed to have a wonderful time. Sassafras Harbor Marina was also a very nice destination. The marina has floating docks and covered slips. Transients are put on the floating docks. There are several picnic areas around the marina with grills and even a few small gazebos. Our get-together had the use of a large meeting room to view a presentation on locks along the Great Loop route. They have a game room and a large swimming pool that is very inviting on a hot summer day. Across the street is a well stocked marine store and an excellent cafe. If there is any down side at all, it's the highway bridge next to the marina and the occasional road noise. We found the staff to be very friendly and helpful. There is also a travel lift for haul-outs to do bottom work and some repairs. Many slip holders came down for the weekend and all were very friendly and welcoming.

On Monday morning we went exploring on the river and spent the next few days sampling the many excellent anchorages. Each had something special to offer and each was just a little different than the last. We checked depths near Daffodil Island, off Freemans Creek and a number of coves just off the channel before anchoring in shallow Back Creek near Mt. Harmon Plantation. From Back Creek, Beach House transited into Turners Creek. The entrance is a little tricky, but markers make it easy if you follow them. The entrance runs very close to shore, but we found depths of 18 feet coming in, although the charts and reports from others would indicate much less. Once inside, the deeper water is close to the commercial dock and there are several moorings with plenty of room to anchor between them. We found plenty of depth about halfway in to the moorings and then shallower water farther in. We dropped anchor in 7 feet at low tide, just past the commercial wharf. There is a dinghy dock, also at the commercial wharf and a very nice park. The park has picnic tables and a large covered area with a fireplace and brick barbeques. The scenery is beautiful, and just a short walk down the road is the visitor center at Knock's Folly and the Kent County Museum. Both have limited operating days so if you plan to visit, check ahead. Commercial crabbers use the wharf and if you are lucky, you just might be able to buy a few crabs or fish. The anchorage has great 360 degree protection.

Another location on our itinerary was Chesapeake City on the C&D Canal. This is a short 3-hour trip for us from the Sassafras. As we entered the Canal proper and approached the first bridge, a large roll-on, roll-off ship was coming the other way. It looked as if we might meet under the bridge so cautioned ruled and Beach House pulled over to the side and let them pass. As the ship went by, we saw the crew on deck taking pictures of us taking pictures of them. They passed very close and we both continued on our way. It had been a very long time since we transited the C&D Canal. Directly across from the entrance to Chesapeake City is Schaefer's Canal House. Docking is free if eating at the restaurant, but you will pay for dockage if you stay overnight. Our destination, however, was the free town dock in the Chesapeake City basin.

Cheapeake City is another of the small, quaint, historic towns that populate the Chesapeake. Entering the harbor requires staying close to the Corps of Engineers bulkhead until well into the basin. Then turn to starboard and head directly to the floating dock next to a small park. There is a shuttle ferry at one end of the dock and it's marked for no docking. The dock is long enough for maybe 3 boats of moderate length. The basin itself is large enough for a number of boats to anchor and there is a public dinghy dock in the corner next to the Chesapeake Inn and the town dock. Boats can stay on the dock for 24 hours and anchor in the basin for 72 hours. There is power and water on the docks, but power is $15.00 per day and water is $10.00 per day. We thought this was a little steep so we decided we didn't need power or water. The depths alongside the dock range from 5 to 7 feet at low tide depending on which end you are tied. The shallow end is closest to the canal.

Chesapeake City is a pretty little town with lots of restaurants, bed and breakfasts, shops and historic buildings. It is a very small town. There are no services to speak of and supplies will require transportation. It's best to be well stocked before arriving. Next to the town dock is a small park with benches to watch the people go by or sit on the canal front and watch the boat and ship traffic. It is a very relaxing place. Until the sun goes down. The Chesapeake Inn has a large open air deck and when we were there it was totally packed with folks having a great time. They have live music at night and because the town dock is next door and the basin is small, it's pretty hard to avoid the music. We arrived a few days before the Labor Day weekend and decided if the party was in full swing this early, maybe it wouldn't be the ideal spot during a long holiday weekend. Even though the section of the canal is a no-wake zone, we were rocked until late into the night from all the coming and going. The next morning it was a no brainer that a change of scenery was much needed. But where could we find a peaceful spot on the Chesapeake for the upcoming weekend? That would be hard to find.

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