Inside the Chesapeake Bay Loop Part I and Part II covered our departure from Annapolis, with stops in Oxford and Solomons, MD, and Reedville, Irvington, and Yorktown, VA. This month, we look at Onancock, VA, and the journey home.

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The quaint town of Onancock, VA, is one of our favorite places on the Eastern Shore. Photo by Craig Ligibel

Favorite Place on the Eastern Shore

We departed Wormley Creek Marina for an estimated 62-mile trip up and across the Bay to one of our very favorite places on the Eastern Shore: the quaint town of Onancock. We had a leisurely cruise of a little over three hours to the Onancock Wharf and Marina. We fueled up with 99 gallons of ethanol free gasoline. Eric assigned us a slip on the floating dock. We walked down the dock to the beautiful bathhouse in the marina office building and stopped to talk with Tom and Leslie on their Sabre 42 Express who had arrived the previous day from the Yorktown Yacht Club.

After having a cocktail and a little something to eat, we waited to walk into town to enjoy a fine dinner at the Charlotte Hotel. We had dined at the Mallard Restaurant the previous year in Onancock, so we wanted to try a new place that we had heard great things about. The meal was definitely first-class with a sashimi tuna appetizer and filet mignon and salmon dinners served perfectly. After dinner we met and talked with the owner, Charlotte, and her partner Gary in the small bar area in front. They asked if we had dessert and we told them we had not. Well, they said, you must try this caramel cake. Quickly, two additional forks appeared, and we each had a bite of the best cake ever. What a treat to meet the owners and share their dessert. Charlotte Hall is well worth making a point of putting on your land or sea itinerary when on the Eastern Shore. The six-block walk back to Fandango was the perfect distance to let our meal settle and to absorb the rare feeling of having experienced a perfect evening in a special town.

Since we did not hit the famous donut shop in town on our trip the previous year, we made it a point to get up and find it this year. We walked into town and stopped at a wonderful place called The Bank Coffee Shop. We could smell the coffee before we even reached the store, which is a good sign. A young lady was minding the store and she was very helpful with the Admiral’s flavorful coffee order and my strong, black coffee straight.

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In Onancock, we were assigned a slip on the floating dock and were thankful for beautiful bathhouse in the marina office building.

With a cup of Joe in hand, we walked across the street to the Corner Bakery Café for their famous donuts. The place was hopping, and a lot of donuts had already been sold by the time we arrived. The staff recommended the cinnamon twists and glazed donuts and who were we to argue? Bag ‘em! We headed back down the street to a picnic table at the town park and gazebo.  

In short order, we were watching one of the townsfolk put together a Halloween selfie-photo station near the gazebo using pumpkins and corn stalks. We introduced ourselves to Jeff and his adopted beagle Tessa. Jeff asked for our opinion on the best way to decorate the town photo station.

While we were talking, the Chairwoman of Main Street Onancock, Janet Fosque, stopped by to inspect the decorations. This was as close to Mayberry as we were ever going to get. All four of us had an enjoyable conversation about the town and our visit for the second year in a row. Saying farewell, we went back to Fandango and prepared her for the trip up the Bay.  

Back North

It took us approximately 30 minutes to cruise at eight knots to the mouth of the Onancock Creek. We could have gone faster, but it is a beautiful, timeless creek we wanted to savor before heading north. Just before leaving the creek, we saw two bald eagles perched on the same green day marker. It was a first for us and something very special as the Admiral and I also were a pair out on the water together.

As we powered up to 18 knots on our journey home, we had one- to one-and-a-half foot seas from the northeast. Later it became one foot from the north which was very mild and there was nary a complaint about the ride. It was interesting to pass a demarcation buoy in the middle of the Bay off Smith Island marking the boundary between Virginia and Maryland. Even at sea, you must know what state you are traveling in! There was really no boat traffic to speak of on this beautiful day which gave us great joy. We did spot about three dozen brown pelicans floating on the Bay waiting for their next meal of menhaden to surface. Apparently, the menhaden were in the area as a large Omega Protein ship was cutting behind us and lowering their net boats to scoop up a few million menhaden. Well, maybe the brown pelicans will get a chance to dive bomb the nets and pick out a few fish.

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Having fun at the Halloween photo station in Onancock. 

Nearing Solomons Island, we discussed continuing on our journey for two more hours to Herrington Harbour South (our former homeport). We elected to head up the Patuxent River and stay on the hook on Cockhold Creek instead of staying at a marina on our last night. We had plenty of food and refreshments onboard, not to mention a Yamaha keyboard for entertainment.

We traveled up the creek until it branched to the west up Forrest Landing Cove. We tucked in as far as we could before anchoring, while giving the homeowners plenty of privacy in case a band party broke out onboard. Unfortunately, we left too much space between our boat and land because a guy on a Boston Whaler decided to use Fandango as a pylon. After the 10th time around our boat, rocking us with his wake, I used my electric megaphone with a police siren and blasted it in his direction to let him know that he was becoming a nuisance. He took the hint and left the area.  

After another wonderful meal onboard, I settled in to listen to my bride play the keyboard in a quiet cove at sunset with a nice glass of wine. It is very hard to beat this mood and location.  After several musical sets ranging from jazz to classical, we settled in for a wonderful trip to dreamland.

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Enjoying a wonderful meal and concert onboard for the last night of the trip.

The next morning, we woke up early to a very strong smell of gasoline in the cabin. We must have had a leak in the line or tank to create an odor this strong. We could not find the exact location of the leak after inspecting every inch of the engine compartment. We opened every hatch and porthole to ventilate the boat before turning on the blower and starting the motors. Then the anchor was hoisted before heading to Solomons Island for some additional fuel before heading back to Annapolis.  

Heading out to the river we were given one more aerial show that we don’t see in the Middle Bay—a pelican chasing down a small seabird with a fish in its bill. After several dive-bombing passes by the pelican, the bird dropped the fish and dinner was served for the pelican. Just north of Sharp’s Island Lighthouse we saw a dozen fishing boats working the water. An Evergreen container ship fully loaded was heading south, which is a very good sign for the economy since it represented exported goods from the US. We entered our familiar waters of Annapolis Harbor around 12:45 p.m.  

We were happy to be back home at Pier 4 Marina after our “Inside the Bay Loop” journey to visit dear friends we have known for many decades and are working hard to not lose touch with at this stage in our lives. Making the trip on Fandango and traveling the length of the Bay made our time with them all the more memorable and special. 

By Paul "Bo" Bollinger

This is the third and final part of this Inside the Bay Loop Journey. To catch up on parts one and two, check out Inside the Chesapeake Bay Loop Part I.