Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Eastern Bay: St. Michaels and the Wye East

Tuesday, August 31 - Monday, September 6, 2010
Okay, everyone...confession time. Here we thought we had posted everything up through the arrival of Rene's mom, and were...ahem..."kindly reminded" (thanks, Skip!) that we were waaaayyyyy behind on any updates. Sorry about that! To give you a little insight into our blog writing (or maybe just the author's less-than-stellar memory), the draft of our trip to St. Michaels and the Wye East has been done since Labor Day. But did we post it? Nooooooo. Anyway, sure I may be writing this on September 27, but let's don our time-warp glasses again (humor me here) and pretend it's August 31st again...

It's official...we've begun the last segment of our Chesapeake adventure. We're spending the next few days in St. Michaels and the Wye East River, and then it's back to Annapolis for a 2-week visit with Rene's mom followed by a month-long haul-out in Deltaville. It still doesn't seem possible that it's almost over, but the cool overnight temps are reminding us that Fall really is on the way.

We decided to spend a couple of days in St. Mike's at the beginning of the Eastern Bay/Wye East trip, rather than at the end, given that we're heading into Labor Day weekend. We expect the town to be a zoo over the holiday weekend, so a Tuesday-Thursday visit is a safer bet. After an 8-hour trip from the Chester River (during which we get to see a fire boat in action and the Bloody Point Lighthouse), we finally make it to St. Michaels by late-afternoon. We cruise through the town's harbor, but there isn't enough depth or swing room for us. We head back out of the channel to the anchorage in the Miles River, and are grateful that the winds are supposed to be light. It wouldn't be much fun to be anchored out in this unprotected anchorage in 20 knots of wind! Wednesday we go ashore to wander through town and do some window-shopping. Since this is our last trip to St. Michaels, we go a little nuts...lunch is a dish of ice cream on Talbot Street, and we follow that up with a tasting at the Eastern Shore brewery. (Author's note: they're celebrating their 2nd anniversary over Labor Day weekend. This is a terrific family-run brewery that is well worth a visit. Stop by if you're ever in St. Mike's!) We manage to drag ourselves away from the brewery in time to do some grocery shopping at ACME (a large grocery store in town that's mere blocks from the dinghy dock - cruiser heaven!), and are back on the boat in time to make some calls to friends and watch the Wednesday night sailboat races. We head back ashore for dinner at Ava's Pizza & Wine Bar. We've read some great reviews of this place, and can see why it's a locals' favorite. Rene has a fantastic meatball pizza (homemade meatballs, of course) and Stacy goes with their fettuccine carbonara. Ava's has a good, casual atmosphere, and every table is full. Yet another wonderful find!

Thursday we motor-sail 5 miles up the Wye East River to Pickering Creek. We're anchored with two other boats (motor-cruisers traveling together), and we feel good about this well-protected hurricane hole. Good thing, too, since Hurricane Earl is heading for the mid-Atlantic coast. We're only supposed to get 20-25mph winds, which shouldn't be an issue since we're surrounded by trees in all directions. In fact, when Earl passes offshore early Friday morning, we only have 10-12kts of wind and a few rain showers. (It doesn't even disturb the little guy who's taken refuge on our anchor chain; see pic.) Talk about a non-event! Not that we're complaining...we certainly breathed a sigh of relief when Earl veered further offshore. We had visited friends Dave & Camilla from Southern Heat in Kill Devil Hills, NC (you know, the place where all of the Weather Channel live reports came from), in May, and were relieved that they didn't get the full brunt of the storm.

Thanks to higher (18-20mph) winds that brought whitecaps into our little creek, we decided against going kayaking on Saturday. By Sunday, having spent three straight days on the boat, one of us was getting a little stir-crazy. We finally had beautiful conditions for a kayak trip, and paddled around the creek Sunday morning. We also went ashore to the Pickering Creek Audubon Center, which can be reached by land, by dinghy at the Waterman's dock, or by kayak from a small beach. The Audubon Center, a nature preserve of sorts, offers miles of hiking trails through the forest and past wetlands. Somehow we managed to miss a turn when we first started our hike, and ended up on a long gravel road running between the forest and a corn field. There wasn't a soul in sight...creepy! (Stacy read way too much Stephen King as a kid...can you say "Children of the Corn"?) The corn field finally ended as we reached the park's entrance - complete with welcome center, herb garden, honey bee hives, and educational buildings. We made our way past the buildings to the wetlands overlook loop, only to take yet another wrong turn (granted, our grounds map didn't necessarily match the terrain). At some point the grassy trail gave way to thigh-high vegetation, causing us to turn back the way we came. After a few more wrong turns, we finally managed to get on a trail leading back through the forest. Did we mention this place wasn't exactly for the faint-hearted? We were passing by a small pond when Rene says, "oh, look at that". "That" turned out to be 3-foot-long black rat snake. Stacy let out a blood-curdling scream and ran back up the path, and Rene was disappointed that he didn't get a picture. That was a little too much nature for some of us!

Sunday afternoon we moved three miles downriver to the Shaw Bay anchorage, which would be our jumping-off point for the trip back to Annapolis on Monday. Now this is what we had in mind when we decided to cruise the Chesapeake! The anchorage was full of other boats, both sail and power alike, and being surrounded by cruisers made us feel like we were back in the Abacos again (granted, without the palm trees and blue water).

As much as we hate to end our trip, it's time to leave the Eastern Shore for Annapolis. We're looking forward to reconnecting with Skip, Betsy, Rick, and Linda, and are of course excited about Rene's mom's visit. Cheers!

Pictures for this Blog chapter:

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