We left Oxford on Wednesday morning (October 2nd) and headed up into San Domingo Creek to anchor, which is the ”back door” to St. Michaels. As we meandered and wiggled up into San Domingo Creek we came upon oyster boats. Oyster boats on port, oysterboats on starboard, oysterboats everywhere! Was there an oysterman convention. We did not know then, that oyster season had just begun on October 1st.
San Domingo is a very quiet anchorage.
St. Michaels, on the Miles River on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay, is known for its charm and history, as well as a vacation destination. Some cruisers like it, some don’t. We liked it. Yes, there were shops and restaurants and bars, but there was also history, marinas and a museum. Altogether, a very classy little town. St. Michaels is known as the “town that fooled the British.” During the War of 1812, on August 10, 1813, the British attacked to destroy the shipyards. Legend says that the townspeople hoisted lanterns high above in the trees and up on masts to trick the British into overshooting the town itself. Only one house was hit. I guess it worked.
When we pull into a new port or harbor with a few hours of daylight left, we usually “scout out” the area to see what it is has to offer. We tied our dinghy to the oysterboat dock to walk into St Michaels from San Domingo Creek.
One of the first homes we came upon was fenced by wooden pickets and by words, in German – Protect this house from weather and wind, and don’t let boring people in. Would that also apply to das Boot as well as dies Haus?
Here are a few street scenes in St. Michaels. Homes and shops. I did shop a bit (Al was very patient.) Some have said that St. Michaels is too expensive, but since it is October and the end of the season, I bought things for 25%, 40% and 75% off. WooHoo! Good sales, but I have to find a place to store the things!
We decided to stay an extra day (Thursday) and visit the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum We really aren’t usually “museum people” but this was a great spot to spend some time if you enjoy the history of boating and maritime industry. The museum covers 18 acres along the waterfront – exhibits, restorations, working boatyard, demonstrations, educational programs, and has the largest collection of historic Chesapeake watercraft.
You are greeted by a neat little “public art project” in the office– Stepping out of the boat.
A major focus of the museum is boat restoration. These projects reminded me of IYRS back in Newport, Rhode Island. Al was in heaven as he wandered about the projects in progress – two of his passions, wood and boats. Loves both, but does not want to own a wooden boat.
We learned about skipjacks. The skipjack is a traditional fishing boat used on the Chesapeake Bay for oyster dredging. They are sailboats, due to state laws that stated they can have no motor, other than for the windlass. In modern times, most skipjacks were modified with stern davits to hold a dinghy or pushboat – it held an engine that pushed the skipjack, especially as it became heavier with oysters.
The restoration of the Rosie Parks is a three-year project.
The Stanley Norman is a skipjack that takes people on tours and is dedicated to student educational programs.
Mister Jim is an example of a “buyboat”. In earlier times, the buyboat brought supplies out to the skipjack and would buy their haul to be taken to shore and sold.
Chesapeake Bay had 71 lighthouses at one time. These were needed because of the shallow waters throughout the bay, the rivers, and the creeks. The Hooper Strait Lighthouse is on exhibit on the museum’s grounds. It is an example of a screwpile lighthouse. A screw was at the bottom of each leg of the lighthouse. Using just manpower on a floating dock, they screwed each leg into the bay’s bottom. This made it sturdier during winters and through storms. We explored and climbed around in the lighthouse.
Here is an interesting little tale as told by the wife of a lighthouse keeper.
The very top part of the lighthouse is the best! The spiral stairs led to the lantern once lit by the fresnel lens. I love these.
Al tried his hand at “tonging”, which is what we saw the oystermen doing on their boats on the way up San Domingo Creek. I am clearly more interested in the play side of the museum!
Obviously, we had to have oysters!! We stopped at the Crab & Steak House on the docks.
A long day, but a very enjoyable day. The day came to a close with a lovely sky.