Exploring Rock Hall, Md., “Pearl Of The Chesapeake”
I had never heard of Rock Hall, Md., before I discovered it with the help of Google. I was searching for new sites to see when the government shutdown required a change of travel plans.
With only 1,300 residents, Rock Hall describes itself as “an unspoiled waterfront town” and “pearl of the Chesapeake” — and I agree. It is a picturesque spot of land with no chain hotels or restaurants and dozens of harbors that contain literally thousands of mostly sailing vessels.
One website I perused made mention of a company offering sailing cruises on the Chesapeake. Blue Crab Chesapeake Charters was the name. I called. On the evenings we planned to be in Rock Hall, they would be attending a sailboat exhibition in Annapolis, the home of the Naval Academy.
Thus began an interesting adventure, a circuitous route to an experience and memory of a lifetime.
From Ronald Regan airport in Washington, D.C., it is about an hour drive to Annapolis on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. My travel companion, Joyce, and I drove through the quaint downtown and were quickly ensnarled in traffic. It was the weekend of the sailboat show.
I have never seen as many masts and never could have imagined the collection of sailing boats in the harbor. It was just the beginning, however, of a visit of one jaw-dropping visual after another.
After untangling ourselves from the traffic in Annapolis, we headed east and across the amazing Chesapeake Bay Bridge. It was worth the $6 to drive across the 4.5-mile-long structure as it stretches and even curves its way across the Chesapeake Bay from Annapolis to Maryland’s eastern shore.
Huge ocean freighters, luxurious sailboats and even small fishing boats presented a picturesque panorama.
On the eastern shore and terra firma, we stopped at a dockside restaurant, rustic yet clean and comfortable. We enjoyed watching the boats on the bay and the near-domestic waterfowl, and, yes, we enjoyed oysters on the half shell for $8 a dozen.
We drove on a bit over an hour, on two-lane roads through well-kept farms and arrived at Rock Hall.
What a friendly town. We stayed at an immaculately clean ma-and-pa hotel a few yards from one of the many marinas. We could choose from about a dozen waterside restaurants. We drove around and picked the one with the most cars at dinner time, Harbor Shack. It was a good choice.
The weather was a bit cool, so we opted not to eat in the open, waterside section and settled in at the bar, where we immediately made friends with the bartender and subsequently some of the locals who were there dining. They were friendly and conversant, as was everyone with whom we would engage while in this picturesque spot.
We learned that status in Rock Hall is not determined by the size of one’s car or square footage of one’s home or the size of one’s jewelry adornment. It is the size of one’s boat. The harbor at Annapolis almost looked empty compared to the harbor at Rock Hall.
After three nights, we reluctantly left Rock Hall, stayed three wonderful nights in Fells Point, Md., and then returned to Rock Hall to meet up with Captain Mark and First Mate Suzanne of Blue Crab Chesapeake Charters.
When we met at the dock to board their beautiful sailboat, the sun was getting low across the bay. For only $30 each, it is a 90-minute trip.
The evening was delightfully cool, and the winds were gentle. The sails unfurled. It was smooth gliding across the water, and we took our turns at the wheel and were beguiled by the stories of Captain Mark. Then the sun began sinking in the small waves. What a remarkable sight was that sunset, with reds, yellows and even a tinge of green reflected on the gently rolling waters.
If there is a more beautiful sight, I would love to see it. Spectacular does not begin to describe the sunset sail by Blue Crab Chesapeake Charters on the picturesque Chesapeake Bay. I suggest you take one for yourself.
Ray Speckman can be found closing his eyes and recalling sunsets and oysters or firstname.lastname@example.org.