After a three-year hiatus, it was time for the Club to return to Tilghman Island for its annual seafood festival. The plan was to sail from Rock Hall to Knapps Narrows on Friday, taking slips for two nights at the marina there in order to enjoy a full Saturday at the festival. About three weeks before the trip, Haven Charters informed us that one of the boats had a broken head, and would not likely be repaired in time for the trip. They did have another boat available, so this didn’t affect us too much. Two weeks before the trip, Bob Rainey downloaded the latest charts for the Narrows, and it reported a controlling depth of 2 feet – yikes! While Knapps Narrows has had shoaling problems for many years, and is overdue for dredging (it’s a long story), it was hard to believe that it was that bad. An email to the charter company, however, removed all doubt. They were not allowing any of their fleet to transit the Narrows. This caused a major re-think to the itinerary, at one point even considering driving from Rock Hall to the festival. Instead, we were fortunate to secure slips at St. Michaels, and arranged for Key Lime Taxi to bring a couple of vans for the short trip from there to Tilghman Island. These would not be the only obstacles encountered on the trip.
Most everyone found there way to Rock Hall on Thursday with little difficulty. Hank and Beth planned on a late arrival so had dinner en-route. Joel got caught in a massive traffic jam on the turnpike, but was saved from starvation by a box of Mallomars. The rest had an enjoyable dinner at the Osprey Point Restaurant. Except for one person, who thought the trip started on Saturday, not Friday. But with a very early departure from New Jersey, this person (who shall remain nameless) arrived in time for breakfast.
Friday started out as a perfect fall blue-sky morning. After final preparations were completed at Haven Marina, Intention and Gambol (the substituted boat) departed around 10 a.m., motoring the familiar Swan Creek channel past Rock Hall Harbor towards the northern Chesapeake Bay. The weekend weather report forecasted clear sunny skies, 70 degree days, and cool dry nights. What could possibly go wrong?
10:30: “Krakauer, this is Rainey. We have a charging problem. We are returning to Haven Marina for repairs.”
11:30: “Krakauer, this is Rainey. We are underway and will soon join you.
11:45: “Krakauer, this is Rainey. Our engine belt is smoking. We’ll have to again return for repairs.”
12:00 pm: “Rainey, this is Krakauer. We too have a charging problem and are returning to Haven Marina for repairs.”
It is now 1 pm and both boats have returned to the marina. The boat malfunctions seem to be growing and we wondered if our plans to attend Tilghman Island Day were to change, yet again.
Finally, at around 2:30 pm, with one more boat swap (Intention for Cool Breeze) and Gambol repaired, we proceeded “with all deliberate speed,” i.e. as fast as we could motor, through Kent Narrows and arrived at the Harbor Inn in St. Michaels just barely before sunset. After dark, some departed for libations and dinner at St. Michaels Crab and Steak House, since the restaurant at the Inn had just closed the weekend before.
On Gambol, an energetic game of Farkle (a dice game) was won by Henry Gibson, who came from behind in the final round by scoring big with 2 set of threes.
Another beautiful clear morning dawned on Saturday, and we sample the free Harbor Inn continental breakfast with omelet station, before our 9:30 am taxi ride to the Tilghman Island Day festival. This didn’t go exactly as planned, as the taxi company bungled one of the van reservations, requiring one crew to wait for the first one to come back from Tilghman. But things don’t really get started until close to 11, so no one was worried. The festival features traditional activities like crab picking and oyster shucking contests, a workboat docking contest, live music, and lots of food (crab cakes, steamed crabs, oysters) prepared and served by volunteers. All proceeds from the festival go to the Tilghman Island Volunteer Fire Department.
The harbor area is where three of the most popular events take place. First up is the jigger toss (think dinghy anchor, but heavier). It looks easier than it is. While the winning toss in the men’s division was sixty-three feet, most tosses were in the twenty to forty foot range. Next up was the rowboat races. There weren’t as many contestants as for the jigger toss, still it was fun to watch. Again, looks easier than it is.
Finally, the main event – the workboat docking contest. This is a timed event, and each boat gets two tries. The first division to compete was the twelve and unders. It was won by the same kid that we saw win it three years ago. Back then, he had a better time than all the adults. He almost achieved that again this year, but not quite. He was a few seconds slower than his dad, who won the adult division.
We had front row seats for this one, which is risky as we were warned about getting wet from the splash kicked up as the boat sterns into the bulkhead.
That night, Gambol’s crew again played Farkle, but apparently without any fireworks (or keelhauling of anyone).
We awoke on Sunday hoping to finally be able to sail to our anchorage for the evening. However, a foggy morning delayed our departure, so we took solace in the free breakfast, which this time included lots of smoked salmon. After some fog cleared, seven people took advantage of the free bike rental to do a misty bike tour of St. Michaels. A bike path with a covered bridge provided lots of photo opportunities. We explored the outdoor sections of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels. Lots of great history here
Further outside of town, the bikers joined a gathering of dog lovers for the annual Jack Russell Races. The muzzled dogs race from a starting cage and chase a scented lure to the finish line. Dogs of all sizes gathered for the “yappy hour” to see and be seen, although only the Jack Russells raced. With time constraints, we reluctantly left the races to return to the marina for our noon departure.
Cool Breeze motored the calm air of Eastern Bay with boats appearing and disappearing in the moderate fog. By now the fog had lifted and visibility was much better. After clearing Bloody Point Bar, Gambol, a mile or so behind, was able to catch some air. We crossed the Chesapeake Bay to the South River, just south of Annapolis. Our destination was Selby Bay on the South River, which proved a little rolly at first, but re-anchoring further in proved satisfactory.
That night, we had our usual raft-up party, with the usual oversupply of tasty treats, especially Linda Baker’s rum cake! Afterwards, Gambol’s crew played Farkle, while Cool Breeze’s crew watched the New England Patriots dominate the Baltimore Ravens on the salon television.
On Monday, we finally had some decent sailing weather for our return to Rock Hall. Despite all the obstacles thrown in our way, we managed to have an enjoyable weekend.
Photos by Joel Mack, Deb Munther
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