Sailors from across the Chesapeake Bay know St. Michaels well, as many of them have made a weekend trip to the town a summer tradition. Cruisers from further afield, traveling north and south along the bay, may balk at St. Michaels out-of-the-way location, some fifteen miles across the Eastern Bay and down the Miles River. However, if these folks knew all that St. Michaels offered as the bay sailors do, they would not hesitate to put in the extra miles. Moreover, the prevailing winds often allow boats to reach across the placid Eastern Bay, making for a fast and fun sail to St. Michaels.
St. Michaels can also be reached by the backside, coming up Broad and San Domingo Creeks off the Choptank. There are several places to anchor along San Domingo Creek, all of them well protected with good holding. A nice dinghy dock sits in a park at the head of the creek, offering a lovely 10-15 minute walk into town. There is also a trail system that is easily accessible from the dinghy dock, perfect for stretching the legs.
For those who choose to approach St. Michaels from the Miles River, there are also several options for where to drop the hook. On a busy weekend, quite a few boats will anchor to the east of G “3” in the Miles River itself. It is not as well protected from wind and wake as other locations, but few of the people who anchor there seem to mind. Fogg Cove, on the north side of the harbor is where we stayed on our most recent visit. It provides space for about a dozen boats, but can get a bit tight. Here you need to make sure you stay far enough off the docks that line the water and watch out for the channel markers. To the south, within the harbor proper, lies another anchorage with good holding and room for 6-10 boats. This spot is the closest to St. Michaels itself and, being inside the harbor, sees very little wake. For those looking for more seclusion, Long Haul Creek, about a mile to the north just off the Miles offers good protection surrounded by a few homes and the Miles River Yacht Club. We love it there, but it is also a long, almost prohibitive, walk or dinghy ride into St. Michaels.
To go ashore, the town provides a nice floating dinghy dock just inside of the Crab Claw Restaurant, as well as the aforementioned dinghy dock on San Domingo Creek. Up the street from the dock is an Acme supermarket, which is a great place to provision. The public library and Blue Crab Coffee sit just beyond the supermarket, offering free internet, tolerance for the loitering cruiser, and, in the case of the latter, good java. Great bars, restaurants, and ice cream parlors line the streets, offering lots of fine choices. Ava’s Pizzeria and Wine Bar is known for excellent pies and a solid wine selection. Right next door is Theo’s, which specializes in all things meat, but also offers some seafood dishes. We had a fabulous dinner at Gina’s Café, an eclectic Mexican place with a great atmosphere. Of course, the Crab Claw and St. Michael’s Crab and Steak House are both institutions, right on the water. Carpenter Street Saloon, affectionately known as C-Street, is the locals’ hangout that is regularly invaded by visitors, who are then treated like regulars. Foxy’s Grille is a far cry from its BVI namesake, but does offer an open-air bar right on the water.
The main attraction of St. Michaels is the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. It has displays and hands-on exhibits that will keep most people busy for an afternoon or two. I know we could have sat and watched the shipwrights work all day. In addition, the museum offers special events nearly every weekend throughout the year. We were lucky enough to catch the log canoe races, which occur on the Miles about six times a year. Other well-loved events include the Antique and Classic Boat Festival in June, Waterman’s Appreciation Day in August, and OysterFest in late October. Check out their website ahead of time to see what is planned. And read our blog post about our experiences at the museum.
While St. Michaels is not to be missed, cruisers will want for a few amenities. As we sadly discovered after dragging our full bags of dirty clothes through the streets, the laundromat in town closed last year. There are also no public showers. It might be that one or more of the marinas in town offer a dinghy rate, allowing access to their facilities, including washers, dryers, and showers. But we were so busy taking in the town that we never bothered to investigate that possibility.
We are already anticipating our return trip to St. Michaels. There is so much to see and do that we did not manage to take it all in. But even more appealing is the thought of returning to a few favorite haunts, and enjoying the atmosphere of the museum, the town itself, and the beautiful anchorages.
You might also want to check out our review of Selina II, a catboat offering charters in St. Michaels.