St. Micheal's, MD is likely the top tourist attraction on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. It hosts a maritime museum that is really worth visiting as well as numerous shops, restaurants and cottages catering to the tourist trade. White Pepper visited twice during her 2008 tour of the Chesapeake Bay. However, I was always frustrated by the shallow, crowded, and exposed anchorage available to the cruising yacht. This option was all that was there was for the cruiser entering via the Miles River, the front door. This year after reading and re reading an old cruising guide “Cruising the Chesapeake” by William H. Shellenberg I was determined to try to visit St. Micheal's by the back door—San Domingo Creek.
After leaving the Chester River White Pepper sailed down the Chesapeake, past Annapolis, entered the Choptank River and then motored into Broad Creek. Broad Creek is indeed broad, maybe several miles wide but quickly narrows. Then there was a jog west into Edge Creek and finally a wide turn into San Domingo Creek. San Domingo is very shallow and the navigable water is quite narrow. White Pepper did not read the most current cruising guide—Active Captain—until after the fact and ran aground near green day marker #3. Using the dingy Habanero as a tug boat we got off before the tide went down too far. We finally were able to continue up the creek and drop anchor in 6 feet of water only a quarter of a mile south of St. Michael's town dock.
The next morning we took Habanero up to the town dock at the foot of W. Chew Street. After walking 3 blocks we came to Talbot St.-- the main drag. All of St. Michael's was open to us while White Pepper lay at a secure and uncrowded anchorage. On a literary note Michner was reported to have rented a cottage on one of the creeks behind St. Michael's while he wrote his classic Chesapeake. Jan and I had great fun trying to pick out which house he rented. Michner would attended numerous cocktail parties thrown in his honor and soak up hundreds of local hoary old legends that become the meat of his historical fiction.
We did not visit the museum having toured it twice previously. We did visit the Eastern Shore brewery which served up some great craft beer. There was a winery next door, but on that day it was just too hot to drink wine. Beer was much better. We tasted and bought some infused Balsamic vinegar and high end olive oil at Olivins where “tasting is believing”. We had lunch at Awful Arthur's and then the next day at Blackthorn's Irish Pub. We viewed the old waterfront and the old homes. We shopped at the local store. It featured a great butcher shop and really cheap rum. White Pepper was quite pleased with her two days at St. Micheal's.
Leaving San Domingo Creek presented a dilemma. High tides were in the afternoon, but a storm was coming in the evening. Eventually, White Pepper chose to transit San Domingo Creek at high tide passing the problematic green #3 with 9 feet of water. We settled in the slightly less protected Edge Creek in 12 feet of water. Earlier in the day the storm was forecast to be mild, but by 9 pm 70 knot winds were being reported on the Bay. By 10:30 pm we were experiencing probably 45 knot winds and 2 foot waves. Regrettably, I had the Bruce style anchor down instead of the trusty Rocna anchor. We started dragging. After dragging about 1000 feet into deeper water I went out to the cockpit and motored into the wind until the storm passed. The Bruce anchor quickly reset, and White Pepper spent the rest of the night quietly. At 4 am watermen began to swarm into Edge Creek. There were dozens of them motoring about crabbing. I spent the next 2 hours until dawn using the running lights, the fore-deck light and the strobe light to warn off boats that came too close. Please note that all of these moves are illegal, but justified under the Florida Prudential Rule. All in all it was a long night. However, after a brief nap White Pepper was off to Solomon's by 10 am.
Remarkable driftwood sculpture at local art shop
Replica of the shallot boat that John Smith used to explore the Chesapeake Bay in 1609.
Another ancient church. There was a church on this site since 1670.