I started our cruising life uneasy about and uninterested in anchoring. This was very much opposite Bryan’s attitude as he wanted to stay on the hook every single night. I would much rather stay at a marina….close to amenities and resources. Much of the beginning of our cruising life was spent this way, out of necessity, for different reasons. Either our head was unusable and being replaced, being on the hard while the rudder was replaced, or waiting out a hurricane. So, I guess I just got used to staying at marinas with their pools, laundry facilities, free wifi and showers. It seemed to make life pretty easy and convenient. However, this comes at a cost of anywhere between $.40 (we have only seen this price once….it is pretty incredible!) to $2.50 per foot plus electricity. Staying at marinas will quickly drain any cruising kitty, so anchoring, in my mind, was just an unfortunate financial requirement. Upon entering the Chesapeake Bay, however, the world of anchoring really opened up to us and my attitude towards anchoring has completely changed. Along the ICW, there are very few places to anchor and feel comfortable, but in the Chesapeake the water is wide open and options are endless. We have gone from anchoring around three times a week to almost the entire week. The only reason to come into a marina now is for the necessity of doing laundry, getting gas, diesel, and fresh water, and provisioning (although all of these things could be accomplished at anchor with the use of ‘Al’ our dinghy, but I am not yet skilled enough to do them!!)
When I think about what changed my attitude towards dropping the hook, it consists of the beautiful scenery, the experiences while at anchor, and the independence and self-reliance that comes when you are “on your own.” I also think the more comfortable temperatures we’ve been experiencing lately have helped with this change of heart. While traveling the ICW in the summer, the heat is unbearable at times. When at anchor, we would have to shut ourselves in our 38 ft boat in order to cool off with the AC. After traveling all day with a 3 and 4 year old, you can imagine this is not what we wanted to do when we got to an anchorage! Now, we are able to enjoy the cockpit at anchor and the girls are enjoying their backyard, “bow”. Here are some of our favorite anchorages in no particular order.
We arrived to Oxford mid-afternoon, with plenty of time to explore the town. We anchored next to the marinas and dinked around the corner to a beach. This was a great afternoon playtime/relaxing time. We then checked out the other side of the town. There was a very convenient dinghy dock and we walked into “town.” This consisted of the library, maritime museum, playground, and local store. We bought fresh crab meat at the store and Bryan cooked the best crab cakes that night. We had crab omelettes the next morning. The playground was right on the water…..I think this might have been the best view from a playground so far. As you might not know, we have visited the playground in EVERY town we have been to, so I have a lot for comparison!
Price Creek is located north of Charleston near Bull Island. We anchored here after leaving Charleston and dinghied to the beach. This anchorage was beautiful and we were all by ourselves. I remember the breeze being so welcomed from the summer heat and we collected lots of shells on the beach. It was also our first attempt at anchoring that went without any drama of shifting currents or strong winds.
This was our first stop after getting back on the boat after repairs in Southport. I think we were so giddy to be back on the boat, we loved everything about this anchorage. As soon as we got there, the girls and I jumped in the water for a swim. We ended up staying here for three days. We anchored on the back side of the beach. There was a dinghy dock and a short walk across the street to the beach. This beach had the clearest water I have seen on the Atlantic Coast. The water looked like the water in the Keys. Avery got googles and was able to see fish underwater for the first time and this is her top spot on our cruise so far.
Annapolis truly is the sailing capital of the east coast….there are sailboats everywhere! We caught our first mooring ball in the city mooring field. There were so many boats all around us and lots of action. It was interesting “boat watching” as boats came and went. There is a dinghy dock at the end of each street and everything is very accessible. It was a cool experience to be among the action and Leslie was able to feed ducks from the boat one morning!
We loved this anchorage so much that we stayed an extra day. We anchored on the San Domingo Creek, considered to be the back door to St. Michaels (no marinas located on this side). We met another boating family with 2 and 4 year old boys and spent an entire day on a nearby sandbar….no joke a full 8 hours on a little sandbar catching crabs and minnows. I wish they were making their way down south with us….the kids and adults had a great time together! The town was easily accessible and we even found a company that rented bikes with a bike trailer for the girls. We spent another day riding around town and visiting the Maritime Museum. There were thirteen other boats anchored with us at one time during the three days we stayed here. The weather, scenery, and company was very memorable.
We stayed at Shackleford for two days. While this might not have been the best anchorage due to strong currents, it was really neat to see wild ponies on the island. There is also a wonderful beach to play and swim on, especially during high tide. We were able to see the ponies up close and watched them walking on the beach from the boat. We also explored other sandbars and found our first sand dollars.
As we start back down the ICW, I’m hoping we might find some spots we missed on our way north. The addition of Skipper Bob’s Anchorages to our boat library has opened our eyes to some more places. Let us know if you are aware of some cool places to anchor along the ICW. We would love to check them out over the next month.