Friday, July 15, 2016

Eight Days in the Mid-Chesapeake


After a night on the boat in Deale, MD, I was able to make an early start while the group slept in. This is the easiest way for us, avoiding the rush of driving and loading up. A 10-knot north west breeze made for nice 6-8 knot reaching conditions with the spinnaker, but it ran out and our speed piddled down to 3 knots by the time we neared Solomons Island. Since our goal was Smith Island, and drifting at 3 knots wouldn't get us there until the wee hours, I motored on one engines, which gets us 5.5-6.0 knots, and bit more if motor sailing or if the tide is favorable. It puffed a bit again as we neared Smith Island, this time from the southwest, and we were able to beat most of the way at reasonable speed. The travel time was about 10 hours.

Jessica scampered off to Ruke's--the main reason for our stop in Smith Island--only to find that Ruke's had been closed for a year, a consequence of her husband passing and health issues of her own. Too bad, she was an icon, known for the best crab cakes on the Bay. People in Crisfield would even order take-out, via  the tour boat! But the Bayside Inn serves some excellence fair as well, and the view from the deck is very peaceful.

Can you spot the American Mariner (US Navy target ship) in the distance?


In the morning we headed across the channel to the Swan Island (the land to your right as you enter from the west) for a little kayaking. The low-light of of our trip was the $90 ticket I got from the DNR on the way back for having too few PFDs. Yes, I know better, and I even made a comment about going back on board to fetch a second when I realized we were short one, but laziness overtook. Heck, we would only be crossing about 100 feet of channel where we couldn't get out and walk! The first time, and not a mistake I will make again. I have been pulled over by DNR numerous times in 30 years, always by officers clearly prowling for a quota. This was the first time they ever found anything wrong.

Park's Marina.

At noon we left for Tangier, only 10 miles to the south. Little wind, but only 10 miles to cross. The bulkhead at Park's was full, so we tied up to a piling and I kayaked over to the marina to help Mr. Parks (he's 85 in just 2 weeks) move some boats to make room, which was simple. Unfortunately, the resulting gap was only 3 feet longer than my boat and shorter than my diagonal, requiring some fancy sideways maneuvering, greatly aided by very light wind and a slack tide. Here we would stay for 4 nights.

 A small storm passed to the north.

The next 4 days were divided between uneventfull fishing, swimming, kayaking, and generally relaxing and waiting the world float by. Our Tangier visits are pretty low key.

About a mile north of the channel in the Upards, west side.

This waterman decided to make his shedding operation dual purpose, adding a sun deck and a little bright paint. Many evenings there would be a group eating dinner and catching up.

 Lack of real estate means that most shedding and docks are actually on the water. A skiff is used to commute, many times times each day.

The remains of a retired travel lift. There is a functional lift on the other side of the harbor.


With a marginal forecast including a chance of thunderstorms all day over most of the Bay, we headed north to Solomons Island in a nice 10-15 knot southerly breeze. The spinnaker would have been nice, allowing us to sail deeper angles, but given the towering clouds it seemed a little risky. Thus we alternated between a broad reach and wing-and-wing, weaving between the squalls and catching only a few weak gusts and perhaps 10 minutes of rain. We spent a hot evening on the hook.


Again, the wind was from the south, but virtually nonexistent until afternoon. Given the heat, we motored to Parker's Creek, where we enjoyed a kayak break, and then on to Deale.

This is what a boat is for. Simply idyllic. No powered boats, only kayaks, are allowed in Parker's Creek. The beach itself is protected due to endangered tiger beetles (stay on the wet sand).

  • Always carry your PFDs, at least in MD.
  • The new air conditioning was great. Much easier to use than the portable and more powerful. Great for sleeping.
  • Fishing may not be reliable, but crabbing in Tangier is.
  • Wet Marine PCA Gold is my "best value" paint choice (my second time). At 9 months there isn't a spot of slime, and experience says I'll get 2 years. Buy it on sale ahead. The best fast-sailing tip is a clean bottom.


  1. Fantastic time on the water! I love your lead photo also.

    Spending 4 nights at Parks is hard to imagine, but then we don't have a/c either. And, it was probably a bit cooler on Tangier than it was here.

    Sorry about the ticket!

  2. We were at Smith Island a couple weeks ago and the green head flies were insane! The bug spray generally kept them from biting, but they were just swarming in clouds. They made it impossible to enjoy the place. Glad to hear Mr. Parks is still going strong.

  3. AC is nice in marinas. However, Parks in Tangier is much better than most, since it is open to most wind directions, and there are few trees to block the wind. The nights are generally pleasant.

    I don't spend much time in town on Smith, in part because of the flies and in part because there is really nothing there. There are no flies at the marina or Bayside Inn, only in town. We spend most of our time kayaking, where they have never really bothered us.

    Try catnip oil spray (available at pet stores). The USDA actually recommends it for horse flies on cattle. No mess.