|Shearwater waiting for her next adventure|
This entry is a direct response to Tillerman’s line in the sand — to write a post on my blog about what I consider to be the top sailing destination on the planet.
You’re kidding me, right?
How about 330+ entries about the TOP sailing destination on the planet? Here’s the link — I’ll go make a sandwich while you catch up on what I’ve been posting about for the past couple of years.
In all seriousness, I can think of no finer area to go sailing and gunkholing than in the Chesapeake Bay and the surrounding coastal waters of Maryland and Virginia.
Do I have experience to back up that statement? Yes. I’ve sailed the coastal waters of Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, California and Hawaii — but none of them draw me back repeatedly the way the Chesapeake does.
As a sailor, what is the draw for me in the Bay? Let me offer up a list…
- Spectacular sailing and gunkholing — I know of no other region that offers so many thousands of miles of nooks and crannies to explore and sail in. I’ve lived here most of my life and still haven’t covered half of the Bay with my explorations. And if I don’t wish to go to an actual destination, the sailing by itself is every bit the equal draw for me to be out on the water.
- Protected coastal waters — The Bay is protected on all sides from the ocean swells and storms of the Atlantic, which makes for great sailing — especially in the wider expanses of the mid-to-lower Chesapeake.
- Excellent crabbing and fishing — Three words. Maryland blue crabs. There are none better on the planet, especially those from the Smith Island region of the lower Chesapeake that are caught at the peak of their flavor in late summer to early fall. The Bay is also home to over 300 other species of tasty critters, such as oysters and striped bass.
- Dense historical opportunities — What other region in the United States can claim to have been at the epicenter of our nation’s history? From the time the Bay was discovered in 1525, it’s been a major player in historical events for the Mid-Atlantic region. Key battles for the War of Independence, the War of 1812 and the Civil War were all fought on the Bay, surrounding waters or on the land itself.
- Soft bottom — There should be a label for the bottom on marine charts for New England — here be rocks. In the Chesapeake, most of the bottom is mud or sand. I’ve gone aground in New England and thought it was certain death for me and my family (read about our grounding here). I’ve gone aground many times in the Chesapeake… and all I’ve done is slow down a little.
- Awesome critters — As mentioned above, the Bay has over 300 water species that call it home, and that doesn’t include all the airborne critters or the terrestrial ones that hug the shoreline. Like seeing cool things? Check out the horseshoe crabs in May, the cownose rays in June, the crabs of the summer or the bird migrations of the fall. Many times the numbers will be so great that the memories will last the rest of your lifetime.
- Accessibility — The Bay has more than 150 rivers and streams that drain into it and it can be easily reached by millions of people.
- Huge area — The Bay is 200 miles long, 30 miles wide at it’s widest point, has 11,684 miles of shoreline and 4,479 square miles of protected coastal waters to explore. Every place else pales next to those figures.
So… Have I made my case? Sure, there are other places that have clearer water or more scenic environs, but they just don’t offer the whole package that the Chesapeake Bay offers.