After nearly a week in Georgetown and Frederickton, I was feeling a bit stir crazy and was ready to move. But we decided to hold out in Skipjack Cove until the 6th in order to allow some of the holiday traffic to subside. Finally, we pulled up anchor on Sunday, in the early afternoon, and motored down the Sassafras River with the intention of stopping over for the night in a place called Still Pond just south of the river and immediately off Chesapeake Bay.
As we moved further down the Sassafras, there were numerous raft-ups still celebrating our nation’s independence, and we realized just how many boats must have been on the river for the holiday. Throughout this trip, I have been impressed by the number of people actually out on boats, mainly sailing vessels but also, at times, the overwhelming number of powerboats. Over the past couple decades at the Jersey Shore, it seemed like the number of recreational boats out on the water had significantly decreased and senior sailing at my club had atrophied. There were so many beautiful sunny days when I would be one of only a handful of people – besides junior sailors, rental jetskiers, and the ever-present parasailing boat – out on the water. While, over the past few months, we had Long Island Sound and the Chesapeake Bay to ourselves once or twice, what stands out are the days when sails dotted the horizon and harbors hummed with activity. In particular, the dozens of sailing boats drifting around in Oyster Bay while dozens more people enjoyed the day out on their mooring and the number of racing and spectating boats that turned out every Wednesday night for the races in Annapolis (getting a little ahead of myself there) really stand out. It heartens a sailor’s soul, even when the countless boats are Sea Rays and pontoon boats as they were on the Sassafras.
The further we progressed down the river, the more the breeze picked up and moved further aft on the port side. By the time we were rounding Ordinary Point, our first anchorage on the river, the wind was coming from the south-southwest, allowing us to set our sails and turn off the diesel engine. Now in blessed silence, Margaret steered us nearly downwind until we hardened up and once again rounded red “2”. At that point, we were on a tight reach and the boat started to heel over nicely. It was one of the first times we had really put Bear on her rails, and Margaret got a little nervous at the helm. With a little reassurance and a few more minutes, though, Margaret was steering her like a pro and, I think, enjoying our nice jaunt.
All too soon, we crossed those final five miles of the Sassafras. And, knowing we would shortly be rounding the point and heading into the wind, we took the opportunity to drop the main and roll in the genoa, once again cranking up the engine. But, before too long, Still Pond was in sight and we were making our final trek across that cove to the anchorage.
As we got close, we could see there were quite a few boats in the well-protected bight in the far southeastern part of the cove. There were also about a half dozen sailboats in the smaller indentation to the west of that. With the wind coming from the south, we figured to avoid the crowd in the bight and join the other sailors. And, within a few moments, that is exactly what we did, putting our hook down in about twelve feet of water on the eastern edge of the sailboats.
Before too long, both of us were in the water, enjoying the more refreshing temperature of the bay after the bathtub warm water of the Sassafras. A little later we had dinner and drinks in the cockpit. As the sun set, we both commented on what a lovely spot Still Pond was. The varied scenery around us, glassy waters, and long, sandy beach that stretched alongside our anchorage was phenomenal.
After talking over our options for the following day, my stories of paying the fee to use Harbor Haven’s facilities – namely the pool and showers – in Rock Hall won Margaret over, and our plans were set. We turned in and fell to sleep quickly in the stillness of Still Pond. And, then, around 2am, the wind must have shifted just a few degrees further west, and the swells coming up the bay started wrapping around the point. We were both rocked awake and, from then on, had only a fitful sleep. While Still Pond can certainly live up to its name, I would recommend making your way into the better protected southeastern corner to ensure that it does.