Sailing on the Shardana

The Chesapeake Bay is a world-famous sailing destination, and there’s good reason why. With its rich maritime history, picture-postcard towns, quaint islands, and endless coves, creeks and anchorages, there are plenty of places to explore and to enjoy.

The largest estuary in the US, and the second largest in North America, the Bay’s 200 miles of water from the Susquehanna to its mouth on the Atlantic Ocean have been painted, photographed and written about by many famous artists and authors as well as countless others. (I’m just one more in a series.) 

And yet, there is still always more to be discovered. 

Captain Thad instructs Ed Arneson on how to steer the Shardana;
one of the best cures for the queasiness of seasickness is steering! 

Those of us in the mid-Atlantic region are blessed to have this incredible place right in our backyard. Despite having grown up in Maryland, I feel as if I hardly know the Chesapeake Bay. I leapt at the chance recently to enjoy an afternoon sailing on the Bay on the Shardana, which charters sails out of Rock Hall, MD, a town famed for its seafood and July waterman’s festival.

Under sail!

The joy of chartering the Shardana is that it is crewed — you’ll have at least a captain on board with you, and you can sit back and enjoy the trip and all the sights without having to worry about any of the mundane logistics and duties. 

The Shardana was customized to include a variety of safety features, such as auto destress signaling,
beaconing, etc. Before you leave the marina, the Captain will go over the variety of tools and gadgets and other safety gear.

The Shardana can be chartered for multiple length sails: a half-day cruise, sunset cruise, overnight or multiple days, depending on your desires and budget. Andrew Seligman, captain of the Shardana and co-owner, will work with you to design an itinerary that suits you. 

But here are some ideas to consider:

One- to two-day excursions

  • Baltimore’s Inner Harbor on the Patapsco River
  • St. Michael’s one of Maryland’s most charming colonial towns on the Miles River
  • Annapolis, home to the Naval Academy, “the sailing capital of the world” and a quaint town in its own right
  • Chestertown, an historic and picturesque town with traditional ties to the shipping industry
  • Magothy River, Worton Creek, Chester/Corsica River, Wye River, Shaw Bay, West River, or Rhode River for anchoring and to simply enjoy nature on the Bay and its tributaries
Three- to four-day excursions
  • Oxford on the Tred Avon River, the sleepy, picturesque town that was the first port of entry into the colonial states
  • Cambridge offers a quaint historical town with some hip restaurants and some must-see heritage tourism
Four- to six-day excursions:
  • Solomons Island on the Patuxent River, where you might see submarines being tested en route
  • Crisfield, a sleepy southern waterman’s town — head there for the Crab Festival
  • Smith Island where you can try Maryland’s famous favorite cake
  • St Mary’s City, off the Potomac River
  • Kiptopeke and other places in Virginia
  • Reedville and other towns in Virginia
Baltimore, Annapolis and St. Michaels are doable in two-day charters;  All the others require 3 to 4 days minimum. Overnight sails can accommodate up to six people, although four will be your most comfortable — and cool option, small / medium well-trained and friendly dogs are allowed! 
Cabins are air conditioned, as well as a small kitchen and dining area, although if there’s a cool breeze, sleeping on deck in either a hammock or on mattresses (of sorts) is also an option. There are two bathrooms on board as well. 
And what a perfect setting for a special event. Seligman recalled a recent sunset cruise charter in which a young man advised him ahead of time that he was planning on popping the question to his beloved. As they sailed into the sunset, she said yes!

Know before you go: You have to bring your own food although there are other options. You can arrange with several local restaurants, including Osprey Point Inn or Pearl on Main, to have premade meals provided.

There is a stove, microwave, grill, and refrigerator on board and plenty of room to stow a cooler. Or pamper yourself (for a price) and hire a chef to cook for you during your sail! Shardana Charters will get you set up for that. Alcohol is BYOB.

Even I tried my hand at steering the Shardana, however briefly!

Getting there: The Shardana is docked at Osprey Point Marina in Rock Hall, MD.

Hours: Charters are flexible.


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