Charter Destinations: Chesapeake Bay - Sail Magazine

Charter Destinations: Chesapeake Bay

Author:
Publish date:
Chesapeake Bay

Downtown Baltimore proved a surprisingly attractive stopover

It’s not every day you can run aground twice in the space of 10 minutes and extract yourself gracefully each time. Chesapeake neophytes, we were feeling our way into the picturesque harbor of Rock Hall, and as we discussed the approach to the marina the boat slowed ever so gently and came to a stop. Wheel hard over, a massive burst of throttle kicked the stern around, and slowly our chartered 40ft Beneteau eased her keel out of the clinging mud. Five minutes later the onlookers were treated to a repeat performance, except this time we managed to reverse off the mud and were soon alongside the dock. We left next morning on a rising tide and were soon romping across the bay toward Baltimore in a rousing southwesterly, with a healthy 20ft under us.

Deepwater sailors cringe whenever they see less than 10ft on the depth meter, but Chesapeake sailors don’t even blink at 10 inches under the keel. Cargo ships ply the bay’s deep channels, but the scores of rivers and creeks and harbors and coves belong to us. A knowledge of the tides is essential, and a shoal draft boat is an asset—I sailed up the bay last year on a boat with a 6ft 6in draft and didn’t relax much once out of the channels.

chesapeakebay02

The scale of this waterway has to be experienced to be believed. Local sailors can cruise here all their lives and still not reach every anchorage or hideaway on its indented shores. A one-week cruise is scarcely enough to even scratch the surface. We had only four days, an extended weekend in July. Leaving Annapolis, a town that’s a destination in itself, we sailed lazily under the bridge and let the tide give us a boost past Kent Island before tacking toward the Magothy River, where we anchored in12ft off the wooded shore and fired up the grill in the glow of a picture-postcard sunset.

Next day we sailed across the bay, only eight or 10 miles across at this point, nosed around Love Point Light and entered the Chester River for a look-see before settling on Rock Hall for the night’s destination. We spent our third night on the public dock in Baltimore, after a two-hour motorsail up the channel amidst the commercial traffic. I enjoy sailing into cities once in a while, and the Baltimore basin, with its rejuvenated waterfront, was more interesting than I’d reckoned on.

One thing I learned from this charter was that four days was not enough to get more than a glimpse of this iconic bay. I’ve sailed there several times since, delivering boats, but never had time to explore and enjoy. Give yourself a week, and make it count.

Oh, and after Rock Hall, we never touched bottom again.

AT A GLANCE

Getting there: Baltimore-Washington International (BWI) is the nearest airport to Annapolis, which is where the charter companies are concentrated.

When to go: Anytime from April through October, though you will experience some cool nights early and late in the season. July and August can be hot, with light winds.

Where to go: Annapolis, Rock Hall, St Michaels, Oxford—Baltimore if you have the time. It would be pushing it to explore the lower bay on a one-week charter out of Annapolis.

Charter Options 

Annapolis Bay Charters annapolisbaycharters.net

Catamaran Company catamarans.com

Haven Charters havencharters.com

March 2017

Related

daviscards

Davis Instruments: Quick Reference Cards

CHECK THESEIf you’re sailing with new crew this summer or your kids have suddenly and inexplicably started to look up from their phones and take an interest in the finer points of cruising, these Quick Reference Cards from Davis are a great way to further their boating education. ...read more

01-rbir18-596

Another Epic Round Britain Race

There are basically two kinds of offshore sailboat races out there: those that take place annually, like the Fastnet and Chicago-to-Mackinac races; and those that take place every other year, like the Transpac and Newport-Bermuda race, in part so the competitors have sufficient ...read more

01b_WALKING-KEDGE-OUT-cmykpromo

Getting More Use From Kedge Anchors

If you are cruising, you need at least two anchors on board for the simple reason that you must have a backup. Imagine having to slip your anchor on a stormy night with other boats dragging down on yours, or having your rope rode severed by some unseen underwater obstacle, ...read more

SailAwayCharter

How-to: Navigating on a Bareboat Charter

So you graduated from navigation class where you practiced dead reckoning, doubling the angle on the bow and maybe even celestial nav, and you now feel well prepared for your first charter trip. Well, you won’t be doing any of that on vacation—not past the first day, anyway.Most ...read more

04-Turtle-rescue

Turtle Rescue in the Vic-Maui

Strange and often wonderful things can happen in the course of an offshore sailboat race, and one of the strangest and most wonderful things we’ve heard of recently took place during the 2,300-mile 2018 Vic-Maui race, from Victoria, British Columbia, to Lahaina, Hawaii.It ...read more

dorcap-open-blue

ATN Inc: Dorcap

COOL SLEEPYou’re fast asleep in a snug anchorage, forehatch open to catch the breeze, when you’re rudely awakened by a sneaky rain squall. Now you’re not only awake and wet, you’re sweltering with the hatch closed. Sucks, right? That’s why ATN came up with the Dorcap, an ...read more

HIGH-RES-29312-Tahiti-GSP

Ask Sail: Who has the right-of-way

WHO HAS RIGHT-OF-WAY?Q: I sail in Narragansett Bay, which is a relatively narrow body of water that has upwind boats generally going south and downwind boats generally going north. When sailboats are racing, the starboard tack boat has the right-of-way over the port tack boat, so ...read more