Time stands still when you’re gently swinging on a hook in a quiet cove. You’re anchored overnight, surrounded by serenity, somewhere on the Chesapeake Bay. You can’t help it—the quiet beauty around you captures your heart and seeps into your soul.
Weeks later – when you’re back to your workaday real life – you’ll ruminate over the smallest details. You pause to remember swimming off the stern in that warm and salty creek. You can imagine your boat softly bobbing under you as the stars crystallize one-by-one in the clear night sky overhead. Drowsiness sets in, lulled by the rhythmic lap of water on the boat hull. You relish the memory of waking early in your bunk to the calls of sea birds and early fishermen across the water, the pungent smell of fresh coffee luring you to the galley.
Maybe you reminisce about pulling anchor and saying goodbye to your quiet cove as your boat departs for a new destination. Somehow along the way, you’ve become hooked on cruising.
The Boating Life
Open to the Atlantic Ocean, the Chesapeake Bay is a huge saltwater estuary that is actually the sunken mouth of the extended freshwater Susquehanna River. The Bay’s three thousand plus miles of shoreline, fifty or so rivers, and hundreds of tidal creeks offer a lifetime of perfect possibilities for the overnight cruiser. The most remote coves and crannies are perfect anchorages for all sorts of pleasure boaters – solo old salts, romantic couples, fleets of friends, and young families with children – all cruising on vessels of every size and persuasion.
For the crew with a dose of wanderlust, the boat is like a floating RV, a place to lay your head at night as you voyage from creek to creek. Sleeping on a boat really is a lot like camping – but with gorgeous water views all around.
Cruising offers an intense form of togetherness for family and friends. My own family has cruised for more than thirty years to anchorages and marinas all over the Chesapeake Bay. Every trip brings unexpected adventures and plenty of quality family time.
No question, the human soul needs to be outdoors and in touch with nature. You can get your earthly fix anywhere you choose – on a mountain, on a beach, in a meadow, in a city park, or at home in your garden. But if you’ve got the time and the nautical know-how, you’ll want to be on a boat exploring the Chesapeake Bay.
The Chesapeake’s Many Rivers
Our Maryland home ports are Whitehall Bay near Annapolis and Harris Creek on the Choptank River. The fact is, we make a beeline for the water whenever we can. The mighty Choptank, the Little Choptank, the Wye, the Miles, the Chester, and the Chesapeake’s many other rivers to the north and south are all contenders for a place in our float plans.
We might drop the hook in Queenstown Creek or Swan Creek or Dun Cove or Hudson Creek. We could be traveling alone or with a little flotilla of sailboats and powerboats cruising together. Rock Hall, Chestertown, St. Michaels, Knapps Narrows, Oxford, Cambridge, and Solomons Island are tempting destinations for dinners out and a little shore time to exercise our land legs.
No place on the Chesapeake is too far to go if you have a few days, a nautical chart, and a reliable depth sounder. We’ve traveled south as far as the Nanticoke River, Pocomoke Sound, the Honga River, and Onancock on the Eastern Shore and the Patuxent, Potomac, Rappahannock, and York Rivers on the western side.
We’ve cruised our local waters on the Severn, South, Magothy, West, and Rhodes Rivers, and seen the length of the Chester, Miles, Wye, Choptank, and Little Choptank. We’ve headed north to the Patapsco River, Sassafras, Bohemia, and Elk Rivers, and the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal. Along the way, we’ve visited plenty of gorgeous creeks, friendly marinas, charming villages, and large cities.
Every Cruise is a New Adventure
When we head out to cruise the Bay, the atmosphere in the cockpit is always a mix of anticipation and excitement, along with a smidgen of trepidation. You just never know what you’re going to get. Whatever the plan is starting out, you probably won’t stick to it. Whatever the weather is on day one, change will come. The real fun will arise from something you haven’t even dreamed up yet.
Cruising the Chesapeake can feel like exploring the next frontier, an outer boundary where we can search for a new perspective on the world. Places and things seem very different and far away when we approach them by water, and time really can stand still. We’ll be thinking about this later, when we’re back home savoring the memories of our time on the Bay – and planning our next cruise to somewhere away on the Chesapeake Bay.