If you are looking for a place that is
unique Tangier is the place. This small island is located right
in the middle of the lower Chesapeake Bay. The only public transportation
is a ferry run from Crisfield,Md. During summertime an additional
ferry for tourist is run from Reedville. This little fishing village
is an example of tradition and culture unsurpassed anywhere. The
main industry is the shedding of hard crabs into its delicate
softshell state. Tangier watermen do this better than anyone else.
While their watermen put in long hard hours of work, tourism now
supplements the island's economy.
To get to Tangier get out your charts- hopefully recent ones.
Both the east or west entrances are O.K. but do watch out for
the target ships if entering from the east. If arriving at night
don't mistake the airport beacon for a navigation aid or you will
end up on a large rock breakwall. If entering the east at night
watch out for the black can buoy SE of the east channel entrance.
The only sensible place to tie up for the night is Park's Marina,
located on the east end of the island. Before backing into a slip
be prepared for a strong current which runs through the channel.
What to Do?
2.Eat a softcrab.
3.Walk to the far south end of the island.(Most people don't walk that far- standing on this lone beach spit is awesome!)
4.Eat breakfast at the Chesapeake House
5.Learn about the history. (Very interesting during the War of 1812)
6.Meditate (I find the rushing sound of water from the crab shedding operations very peaceful.)
What not to do?
1.Buy alcohol.(none on the island for sale)
2.Trespass- stay off private property unless invited.
3.Irritate the locals-It's their island-respect them.
To get to Tangier get out your charts- hopefully recent ones. Both the east or west entrances are O.K. but do watch out for the target ships if entering from the east. If arriving at night don't mistake the airport beacon for a navigation aid or you will end up on a large rock breakwall. If entering the east at night watch out for the black can buoy SE of the east channel entrance. The only sensible place to tie up for the night is Park's Marina, located on the east end of the island. Before backing into a slip be prepared for a strong current which runs through the channel.
First, I discovered a new anchorage this summer at Cod Harbor.( X marks the spot) The water depth is 8 ft. almost right up to the beach to the south. This location does not offer any protection from an east wind but is O.K. in good weather. The openness of this place is what gives it its beauty. You get the feeling that you are right in the middle of the Bay- and you are! A small channel through the north marsh is a short dinghy ride to town. I caught several fish right at anchor. I don't expect this to be a winter stop but keep this in mind for those hot summer nights.
While Tangier is in full swing through the tourist season for getting something to eat, you may now find that the larger restaurants are closed. Not a problem. Head to Lorraine's Sandwich Shop located down the alley from the Corner Restaurant.(Ask if you can't find it.) This place is a charm. Serving mostly locals you'll find this the best deal in town. I had the oyster sandwich and my son Mike had a pan pizza with ice cream for dessert. My sandwich was delicious and there were no complaints from Mike. The variety is great, the service fast, and the company pleasing. Go and enjoy it!
Finally for you rock fishermen - this is where they were two weeks ago. The rock were schooling and breaking the surface around the wrecks to the west of the island. Fortunately for me in a sailboat the completion with other fishing boats was light so each boat had its own group of gulls to chase. I would coast into the pack and cast out a bucktail and caught a fish about every third cast. The sizes would vary from 15" (too small - legal is 18") to about 22". It was great fun.
If you have never visited the concrete ships at Kiptopeke you are in for a real treat. This location has an attractive and unusual view with a beach park on shore. The concrete ship bulkhead was built after World War II to provide protection for the ferries which used to cross the bay. They offer an overnight anchorage right in the Bay itself. A few years ago the State of Virginia bought the land at Kiptopeke from a private campground and made it into a state park. They have added on to the existing facilities and currently have campsites, a fishing pier, protected beach with lifeguard, and decks over the beach dunes.
The one thing tricky about Kiptopeke is finding the best anchorage spot. First a strong current runs parallel to the shore here and changes direction with the tide. If the wind is out of the southwest there is usually an ocean swell which builds as you near shore. In this case it is usually best to stay out in the deeper water near the ships. If the wind is from the north your best bet is to anchor just south of the fishing pier. In either case you may want to consider laying out two anchors if the wind and the current are playing tug-a-war with your boat.
Things to do;
1. Check in with the park rangers to learn the rules.
2. Swim - ocean like water
3. Fishing - One of the best spots on the bay
4. Explore the park and have a picnic
Things not to do;
1.No marina facilities- have your fuel tank full and your head tank empty
2.Have poor ground tackle - This place demands good equipment and anchoring knowledge.
3.Forget your dinghy - going ashore is a must
Last weekend my six years old son Mike and I went out for our first overnight cruise without the rest of the family. We had a ball! The wind was just right for a nice bay cruise so I left the Piankatank and headed for Grog Island, just around the bend from Windmill Point. I knew the island would offer us plenty of fun after anchoring and I wasn’t disappointed. We explored the island looking for pirate’s treasure, swam, fished, and crabbed. Later that afternoon the strong south breeze was making our anchorage a little bumpy so I opted to head up Dymer Creek for George’s Cove. This is a very snug area with plenty of water depth and good protection. After a restful night sleep, Mike convinced me to visit Grog Island again the next morning before heading back home.
Grog Island is located on the north side of the mouth of Dymer Creek. There is a deep channel leading to the north point of the island. An easy approach is to start from the "7" daymark and head north. Once clearing the entrance shoals you’ll find 8 -10 ft. of water in the protected basin. This is an unusual place where (if you dare) you can beach the bow of your sailboat on the tip of the north beach and still have 5 ft at your keel. The steep drop off around the north point of the island offers an ideal place to fish from the beach. For crabbing or wading the east shore has a shallow shelf. The island does have a little wooded area but beware - It is full of poison ivy! The protection from the weather is good from all direction except the south. If in my case the wind is brisk from the south, then head up Dymer for either George’s Cove or Ashley’s Cove. One warning, Grog Island is a very popular place so expect to share this gem with several other boats on a busy summer weekend.
When heading north up the bay I find myself searching for a place to tuck into for the night before making the stretch between Smith Point and the Patuxent River. What I am looking for is a place not too far from the bay but with good protection and a nice setting. Mill Creek is one of my favorite choices.
There are many different Mill Creeks on the Chesapeake Bay. This cruise is to the one located near the mouth of the Great Wicomico River. To begin your approach head SW from the Great Wicomico Light. Use your charts and be certain to pick up the correct “2” daymarker - not the one WSW of the light. Once inside the creek continue to follow the daymarkers until passing the “5”. For the next one-half mile upstream just about anywhere will offer a good anchorage.
While you’re there, break out the dinghy and go exploring. This creek has some interesting coves and headwaters. The lovely surroundings begs to be enjoyed. If you happen to meet up with a swan -Beware! I was first greeted and then attacked by a swan on one of my site seeing rides.
Mill Creek is a great place just to be lazy. It is quiet with very little boat traffic.
If the weather looks threatening don’t worry, the shelter offered in Mill Creek is
more than adequate. I’ve sat out some major thunderstorms there with relative
Chart of Mill Creek
Cambridge Municipal Marina is fairly cheap place ($1/ft.) and your bicycle will come in handle...I bike also.
Another favorite in that area is Saw Mill Cove, up La Trappe Creek...depending your draft how far back in you can go. Sept. 1983, a bad storm/cold front pushed us back in there (we then had a Rhodes Continential 22ft. then) just by luck. We went from shorts that morning after leaving Oxford for Cambridge and by the time the front went thru, we were in long pants, sweaters and jackets. We liked it so much that we stayed remainder of afternoon and evening as ducks and geese came down in water out from the small cove we were anchored in. Another favourite in the big Chop Tank is Dunn Cove, up Harris Creek, to port after coming thru Knapps Narrows. Have been going all of these places in big Chop Tank since 1983...Dunn Cove is pretty open unless you go back in toward the farm (stay away from point w/woods coming in as shoal comes wayyy out before turning back into farm cove), however, we have rode out many bad storms there...one Sept., on way to Crisfield, we had the worse storm w/hail like marbles...no problem...visibility was down to zero during that storm. This is always our 'kick off point' when heading for Solomons. Also up Broad River, off of Chop Tank, are many place to anchor. Last year (July 4, 1995) we went back in Grace Creek almost to the crab processing plant, dropped anchor and I dinhgied in with bicycle and ask if I could tie up someplace out of the way...guy said, "Sure". That is in the village of Bozman...from there I rode down to Neavitt dock where watermen come in and back to Bozman..~ 12 miles believe.
Also up off Broad is a Calk Creek, which we went there last year for first time, quiet and peaceful, beautiful sun set that evening which we could watch until down all the way.
I mentioned a couple of these places in trans that I lost to you sometime ago...never had that happen before or since.
Oh yes, if you go into Solomons, we like to go all the way
up past Spring Cove Marina (best fuel prices there) another
mile maybe to a little cove with brick home on point and a
boat barn back in cove...another quiet and peaceful, well
protected...only brick home near, woods on other side. St.
Leonard Creek on up Patuxent is an interesting creek if you
have never been there...we went there 3 years ago to Vera's
Marina/Resturant...very different, but kind of
expensive food, marina cheap...once so we can say we were
from JimBo aboard "MI AMOUR"
Located just above Tangier in the Chesapeake Bay, Smith Island is another one of my favorite cruising stops. This island consists of three small towns – Ewell, Rhodes Point, and Tylerton. The "main town" is Ewell where you can tie up to end of the ferry dock on the side of the main channel. If you wish to stay overnight there is a $15-20 charge. There are no services provided so I prefer to anchor out off the channel north of Ewell. (red arrow on chart) This anchorage is very tight so you'll need to feel your way around. The water depth changes from 8-9 ft. to 2 ft really fast. This spot does not provide any real protection from the wind but because of the surrounding marsh there is almost never any wave action. The view is terrific and worth the trouble but there is only room for 2-3 boats before this place becomes crowded. Another advantage of this anchorage is that you avoid the remaining channel that leads to town. I have found that at low tide it is hard to maintain 5 ft. of water past the last couple of red daymarks before arriving in Ewell. My normal routine has been to anchor out and ride my dinghy for the rest of the way. This is also the only way to get to Tylerton if you draw more than 3 ft. In good weather I have started my dinghy ride from my anchorage, visited Ewell, Tylerton, and Rhodes Pt. and returned to my boat following the west shoreline in the Bay.
The towns of Smith Island are not as commercialized as Tangier for tourist. In Ewell you can find a country store, restaurant, and a new museum. If you happen to have a bicycle you can ride from Ewell to Rhodes Pt. a 5 – 6 mile round trip. One of my favorite activities is to roam the island studying the "living museum of boat craft". Unfortunately many of these magnificent works of art have been abandoned and left to slowly waste away. While not healthy the seafood industry is still the main stay source of income for Smith Island.
If you are really brave you may like to try the east channel called the "Big Thorofare". I made the passage last year and was surprised that it carried a depth of better than 6 ft for the entire trip. It is very narrow and you may have to negotiate the passing of the mailboat, which does not slowdown while maintaining its center path of the channel.
Smith Island is a great place to stop while heading up or down the Bay from Solomons. It's right along the way avoiding a long detour from your cruise plan course. Try it you'll like it.
Now it's up to you!-Just E-mail me a short message on one of your cruises.PLEASE