By: Jody Argo Schroath
The first sign of trouble came on the back of a southwest wind out of Baltimore that pushed the flat calm water of Back River into a Marcel wave of short steep chop. Not necessarily a bad thing unless you happened to be anchored uncomfortably close to a lee shore, which we were, so it wasn’t a good thing. Then too it was late on a summer afternoon, which further skewed the odds against us. Late summer afternoons are the natural habitat of the severe Chesapeake squall. The third strike against us is that we were not on the boat at all just then, but rather enjoying a picnic and stroll ashore at Rocky Point Park, just inside the mouth of Back River. We had been lulled by a day of near perfect calm, which even for a sailboat, had been ideal for a visit to Back River. Sailing up from Baltimore that morning, friends Kathy and Hal and I—and Skipper the dog, of course—had circled Hart Miller Island under a clean blue sky and soft offshore breeze before dropping the sails inside Hawk Cove just as the last wind ripples headed east across the Bay to fetch up somewhere near Fairlee Creek. Motoring now, we turned south to find the entrance marker and avoid the long shoal off Rocky Point.
Back River is not a prominent fixture on many cruisers’ list of favorite destinations, but it has its advocates and it certainly has hundreds of boaters who call it home. From a sailor’s point of view, Back River, though nearly a mile wide in spots, has too many shoals to tack and too many changes of direction to reach.
Click on the above image to read more.