St Michaels, Baltimore, And The Turn For Home

Sonas downtown Baltimore

August 6th

Before we cast off this morning John and Paul walked over to J M Clayton Company just by the boat. This seafood processing company claims that it is the “World’s Oldest Crab Company” and has been in business through five generations.  They bought three pounds of fresh crab meat, one of which went into the freezer as a gift for some friends back home.

Three pounds of crab meat!

We cast off and proceeded back out through the Choptank and into the Bay. We rounded Tilghman Island and into Eastern Bay, and ran the two hours into St Michaels. As we approached our lunch anchorage a sail boat with green canvas passed us going in the opposite direction. Suddenly Paul shouted “hey, look at the name!” And there it was, in Irish script on the side of the boat –Sonas! Paul grabbed the radio: “Sonas, Sonas, Sonas, this is Sonas.” No response. He tried a few times more with no response. So sadly we drifted apart, none the wiser of their story! So if there is anyone in Annapolis who knows them, point them here!

Sailing vessel Sonas!

We stopped just short of the town and dropped the anchor for lunch and a swim. Our plan was to go inside to the anchorage in the town.  But as we approached we found three other boats already there in  tight anchorage, so went back out to the open anchorage just outside of town.

We launched he dinghy and went in for a walk through the town. It is quite a lively town with lots of art galleries and stores. We bought a souvenir Christmas Tree ornament and had some ice cream to help with the day’s heat – which was a “feels like” 97 degrees! We also found the small grocery store and bought a fresh lettuce!

However a nice cooler breeze came through the anchorage in the evening so we grilled the dinner and ate on the fly bridge watching the sail boats taking sunset cruises on the Miles River.

Sunset over St Michaels

Later that evening we were surrounded by electrical storms that passed around us but did present us with some magnificent dark skies and forked lightning!

August 7th

We woke this morning to a boat covered in small flies! So much so that we could not use the back door but had to go out and in the side pilothouse door. The number of flies got progressively worse as the day went on, and the number of spider webs appearing to snag them increased as well! We also noticed little green spots appearing on the fiberglass. We will be tying up alongside tomorrow night in Rock Hall so will get to work with the hose and soapy water.

Attack of the flies!

After a lazy morning swimming and reading in the sun we went ashore. We had lunch at the Carpenter Street Saloon before walking down to the St Michaels winery for some afternoon wine tasting. We found the wines there to be very acidic so did not buy any bottles. We considered paying a visit to the Maritime Museum but were driven back to the boat by the heat.

Tasting the wine – no sips here, we went with full glasses!

Returning to Sonas we all had a nap to allow the wine to wear off!! Then we made good use of the crab that we bought making crab spaghetti with lemon gremolata.

August 8th

Paul was interested in taking a direct route to Rock Hall via the Kent Narrows. Last night he had used both the charts and the GPS to look at the depth through the channel, and it looked pretty shallow. He went on to the Trawler Forum and asked for local knowledge and received a good deal of input – in summary, due to the skinny water through the Narrows, it suggested taking the time to go back out through the East Bay and take the long way around. Which is what we did.

We went North past the large ships waiting their turn for Baltimore, then raced a tug and barge to the Chesapeake Bay bridge (until Sian told Paul to slow down and let the tug win!).

Racing the tug and barge!
Chesapeake Bay Bridge

Immediately past the bridge we made the turn to the North East and the channel into Rock Hall. First we went past the entrance to Rock Hall and entered Swan Creek to anchor for lunch and a cooling swim. As we turned the corner into the creek we were surprised by the number of large marinas back in there. After lunch we backtracked and entered Rock Hall harbor. There are two way to get across the harbor. Around the well-marked edge of the harbor, or straight across. Paul had received some local knowledge from the Trawler Forum advising us to go around the edge as the cut across only had a starting and ending markers and was very shallow out of the channel. We passed the blow up Waterman at the harbor entrance and got to our T-Head dock at the Waterman’s Crab House, and found that we had no power pedestal! We walked over to the restaurant and found the general manager, Ken, busy getting bushels of crabs ready for the evening dinner crowd. He pointed us to the only slip that had a 50 amp power. So we backed Sonas down to slip number 5 and we tied up stern onto the bar and restaurant – about five steps away!

Waterman guarding the entrance
Can we get any closer to the restaurant!

John and Anne Marie went for a walk into town but found most placed closed by five. They had an ice cream as a reward!

We had originally planned to grill some steaks on the boat deck, but as the breeze was blowing towards the restaurant we thought it a bit cheeky having the smell of privately grilling steaks waft over the guests there! So we decided on dinner at the restaurant where we had the crab pots; crabs, mussels, clams, potato, and sweet corn, with the requisite brown paper table cloths. Our waitress Tiffany showed us how to professionally clean the crabs, and Ken, the general manager, came and sat with us for a chat. Overall one of the great evenings of our trip.

Yummy yummy!
Not much left!

August 9th

This morning we ran back out the Rock Hall channel and then across to the northern extension to the Brewerton Channel towards Baltimore. We passed through the Baltimore docks and entered the inner channel, slowing to 6 miles per hour as per the signs downtown. We found the Harbor East Marina and were directed to slip A10. We had a little bump on the way into the slip as the slips have long fingers on both sides and are only 18 feet wide –and Sonas is 15.5 feet wide!

Right downtown Baltimore

We would describe the marina as nothing short of magnificent. It is a brand new marina that has only been open for a month. The walkways are very wide and safe, they had slip-side pump outs, and best of all it is right downtown beside Piers 4 and 5. There were Adirondack chairs and tables spread among the slips for our use.

After checking in we went to visit a couple of the Historic Ships. First the WWII submarine Torsk, which sank the last enemy ship of the war. Then we went on the tall ship USS Constellation. We thought two was enough so did not visit the Coast Guard cutter (last surviving ship from Pearl Harbour) and a lightship. It was getting very hot again so we paid a visit to the Tir na Nog Irish bar afterwards John and Anne Marie did some more sightseeing while we went to Fresh Market for some groceries.

USS Constellation
USS Connstellation

That evening we grilled our steaks and set up one of the tables on the dock. We ate and drank wine under the lights of downtown Baltimore. Stephen Bisciotti’s Winning Drive mega yacht was docked next to us as the Ravens had a pre-season game tonight. We chatted and watched the river traffic until late, before bunking down, the final comment from John; “this is the best marina I have ever been to!”

Dinner on the dock

August 10th

For some reason Paul woke up this morning and fancied a breakfast out. He Googled breakfast places and lo and behold found an Irish Pub, The Slainte, only a fifteen minute walk away, AND they did a full Irish breakfast! So we walked over to the Fells Point area and walked through the cobbled streets of the old port district to the pub. As promised Paul had his breakfast of bangers (sausages), egg, mushrooms, bacon, baked beans, black pudding and white pudding, topped with toast! The rest of us had a more modest fare, though John and Anne Marie did start their day off with large Mimosas!

Back on Sonas John and Anne Marie finished their packing. They booked an Uber for one o’clock and we saw them off to Philadelphia airport. We left the marina and “made the turn”, beginning our journey south towards home port. We promised ourselves that we were going to take it slow and continue with short days, rather than long days in a rush to get home. We went under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, past the Severn River and Annapolis and entered the Rhode River. We anchored inside the river by the large marinas in there, as dozens of sailboats passed us on their Friday evening sails.

Rhode River sunset

August 11th

Looking at the charts and cruising guide we saw that there were no good anchorages on the Western Bay between Rhode Island and the Solomons/Potomac River area. Plus we were aiming to get to Cape Charles tomorrow, so decided to put in a longer day today to make tomorrow a short run, getting us to Cape Charles early in the day to visit the town. We set the course for the Great Wicomico River and the protected anchorage on Cockrell Creek. The day stared much cooler than it had been, though thunderstorms were forecast for later in the day.

We made the anchorage in about eight hours. Along the way we booked our slip at Cape Charles and also booked two nights in Norfolk, the next stop.

As we turned into our anchorage we saw the large north Atlantic Menhaden fleet tied up just north of us at Reedsville. Menhaden are an oily fish that are harvested for their Omega 3 oil.

Menhaden fleet

August 12th

We headed south east to Cape Charles. The day started out cloudy and cool, which was a welcome relief after the recent very hot days. Our GPS showed that we would be at the channel for Cape Charles at 12:30. It was a short four hour run. As we neared noon the breeze died away and it got hot and steamy again. Then just as we passed off shore Cape Charles we were hit by a swarm of little black no-seeums. They flooded the fly bridge and were a ticklish nuisance. We were glad when we hit the channel and turned back north into whatever breeze there was and the flies got blown away.

We pulled into the fuel dock at the City Dock and topped up with enough three dollar diesel to see us all the way back home to Jacksonville. We also pumped out the holding tank. Then we went over and tied up at the Dock B T-head. We had a cold beer and a nap before taking a walk into the small quaint town of Cape Charles. Paul got an ice cream at Tim’s Convenience Store and Sian got some milk and lettuce!

This evening we went up to the restaurant by the marina, Shanty, for dinner. But found that there was a one hour wait. So we walked across to the town and had a good crabcake dinner in the Gingernut Irish Pub.

2 thoughts on “St Michaels, Baltimore, And The Turn For Home”

  1. Fab holiday … an amazing time … city break .. boating … beaches .. family time … thank you both so much .. safe journey home

  2. Awaiting a thunderstorm here in QH a read all your blogs on your trip to my hometown Baltimore and your stops along the way that I have visited on my couple trips on September Morn. I addition Carolyn and I have made a driving trip to some of your stops and enjoyed those visits by land also. With your frequent swims I wondered why the sea nettles that usually arrive by this time of year did not pose a problem to your enjoyment? Growing up in Baltimore and visiting my uncles place on the Magothy River each summer as a child we could usually count on their arrival in late July and August. If there was a lot of rain in a given summer the fresh water would keep them down the Bay.
    Thank you for the memories and have a safe voyage back to QH. Blessings. George

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