Rhode River, June 2023. Photo by MacDuff Perkins

Anchoring Out

Drop the hook, pick up a book 

Modern marinas in and around the Chesapeake’s many ports of call provide all the comforts a cruiser might require, but there’s an elemental happiness to be found in dropping the hook and unplugging from the chaos of everyday life for a day or two. In between those ports, many of the Chesapeake’s shores are protected from development, creating a bucolic environment to bring greater peace to your stay. Sit back in the cockpit with that book you’ve been saving for just such a moment, or take the dinghy ashore and play Robinson Crusoe; there is no greater peace than in these moments. 

One of the Chesapeake’s best botanical surprises is the American lotus, which blooms for several weeks during July and August. Looking like straight sunlight reflected off the water’s surface, the flowers grow in extensive floating fields that hover atop some of the Bay’s shallower creeks. Expect to see these blooms later in the summer and admire them from a distance as they spell waters as shallow as 12 inches to 5 feet. 

Some of the best places to view American lotus flowers in Maryland are in the shallows of Mattawoman Creek in Charles County, Turner’s Creek in Kent County, and the Sassafras River in Cecil County. 

Jessica St. Clair submitted this photo of boats anchored out on the Sassafras River to the ShoreRivers Annual Photo Contest.

Meandering your way up the Eastern Bay and tucking into the Wye East River offers some of the best bird watching experiences on the Bay. Plenty of small, quiet anchorages offer peace and tranquility, making nearby St. Michaels seem like a bustling metropolis. From your cockpit you can watch for bald eagles, green heron, swallows and terns aplenty. 

Pushing farther up the river, Pickering Creek is an ideal hurricane hole to disappear into, protected from all directions. The entrance to the creek can be shallow, which turns off many. But as you head east you’ll find plentiful anchorages, and the Pickering Creek Audubon Society offers peace and quiet for your gathering. 

Traversing south down the Chesapeake brings about an entirely different environment. Both winds and seas build as the Bay opens her arms to the Atlantic, and anchorages take on a different shape and scene. One of those is Fleets Bay near the mouth of the Rappahannock River, which offers white sand beaches extending in all directions. Protected in the crook of a peninsular elbow, an artificial oyster reef has made Fleets Bay a hot spot for fishing and crabbing (thus making anchoring a little difficult). Send the kids to explore in the marshes while you pretend to fish in the quiet. Locals know to catch the sunset before heading home. 

MacDuff Perkins lives in Annapolis, where she is the owner of Groundswell Yoga Studio. She and her family enjoy sailing their Sabre 42 around the East Coast.