Favorite Weekend Cruise: Galesville, MD - Sail Magazine

Favorite Weekend Cruise: Galesville, MD

For over 20 years now, three of my best friends and I have made a tradition of doing an annual sailing trip on the Chesapeake Bay with our dads. We “kids” are now grown up and dispersed around the globe, but our four dads still live within three miles of one another back home in Pennsylvania.
Author:
Publish date:
Galesville_1

For over 20 years now, three of my best friends and I have made a tradition of doing an annual sailing trip on the Chesapeake Bay with our dads. We “kids” are now grown up and dispersed around the globe—Adam is a pilot in the Air National Guard, Blake a financial guru and Jeremy works at a bank, while I am usually either delivering yachts or writing about them. But our four dads still live within three miles of one another back home in Pennsylvania.

This past summer we continued the tradition. We had two boats this time round, and sailed from Annapolis aboard Adam’s Tartan 37, Audentia, and my dad’s latest Sojourner, a 1986 Wauquiez Hood 38. The father-son duos split up between the boats, and we flew spinnakers around Thomas Point and headed for the West River and Galesville, which has become our go-to weekend spot when the wind is too light to warrant six hours of motoring to Baltimore. We sailed close enough to each other to toss sandwiches between the boats during lunch.

Galesville offers the perfect compromise. There is a choice of restaurants ashore, but the anchorage is isolated and picturesque enough to warrant cooking out as well. The eight of us climbed ashore at Pirate’s Cove Restaurant, but on seeing the white tablecloths we headed farther south to Thursday’s Steak & Crabhouse, where they sat us outside at a picnic table where we could get boisterous.

Galesville, on the southwest fork of the West River, is only a two-hour sail from Annapolis. Getting there takes you close to Thomas Point, the oldest screwpile lighthouse still in operation on the Chesapeake. One does not have to sail out around it, although leaving it to starboard when heading south is prudent. 

The West River is well marked, but can be tricky at night, as the channel snakes through a big S-turn and some of the daymarks are unlit. The channel is wide enough that you can sail into the anchorage, yet challenging enough to make it exciting, even on a typical light-air summer day. Missing a mark, as in most places on the bay, means grounding out in mud.

The Rhode River, which branches off to the west not long after you round the lighthouse, offers a myriad of quiet anchorages in any of its five adjoining creeks. (When we were younger, we used to water ski behind the dinghy here.) Galesville, only a short bike ride from Annapolis by land, may as well be on the moon. It’s more like a sleepy Eastern Shore town than its bustling Western Shore neighbor and has a distinct southern ambiance. Pirates Cove Marina and the historic Hartge Yacht Yard offer fantastic dock-walking opportunities, with loads of character boats to admire.

The main anchorage is east of Pirate’s Cove at the mouth of South Creek with good holding in mud. On weekends there may be other boats around, but there is another anchorage to the south in Smith Creek, which is sometimes less active. Outside of town, in the branches of the river, there are any number of quiet, private anchorages to enjoy. If you need to tie up, Pirate’s Cove Marina has transient slips and a fuel dock and is an easy side-to stop going in or out of town.

Galesville is close enough to most of the major destinations around the Bay Bridge area (Annapolis, Baltimore, St. Michaels) that it can be easy to overlook. It is so close to our home port, we ignored it for years until we realized it had exactly what we needed in a weekend cruise destination. 

Related

Outremer45

Boat Review: Outremer 45

It’s funny the way things that work right almost inevitably tend to look right as well. Case in point: the Outremer 45, a catamaran that can’t help but turn heads with its large rig, nicely sculpted cabintrunk and narrow, purposeful bows. Better yet, under sail the boat more than ...read more

Sunset-Tyrrel-Bay

Charter: Glorious Grenada

In the wake of the hurricanes that devastated the Virgin Islands last year many charterers ended up going farther south to Grenada and the Grenadines where they found the sailing excellent and the vibe just fine“God must have been a sailor when he created the Caribbean,” a friend ...read more

WaterLinesNov

Waterlines: Tangled Up in Pots

I learned to sail on the Maine coast as a boy, and one of the things my elders taught me was to respect fishing gear. If you got caught up with a lobster pot, you did everything you could to get clear without cutting the pot warp. It represented a family’s livelihood and thus was ...read more

7353

Harken’s Reflex 3 top-down Furler

Furl PowerAre you afraid of flying—spinnakers, that is? Harken’s new Reflex 3 top-down furler will tame A-sails on monohulls from 44-58ft and multis from 39-55ft, and Code 0’s on 39-54ft monos and 36-50ft multis. All you do is heave on the furling line and the sail will roll up ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comDitch the stress Owners of high-freeboard yachts best boarded via the stern sugar-scoop like to back them into a slip, but the process can be fraught on a windy day or when there’s a current running, ...read more

Sun-Odyssey-490-Bertrand_DUQUENNE-aft

Boat Review: Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 490

True innovation in monohull sailboat design can be a bit elusive these days. That’s not to say that there are no more new ideas, but it does seem that many new tweaks and introductions are a bit incremental: let’s say evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Just when it seems ...read more