An Ideal Chesapeake Bay Cruiser

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First, understand that I love boats. I have since I was 10 years old. It all started when, as a transient military family living in Florida, our home was located next to a marina. There was something about the water, the fresh air, and seeing all those boats tied up and waiting for their next adventure, that pulled me in.  Until I was 17 I had to be content with reading  and dreaming about a boat of my own. Any size or kind would be okay.

Eventually, when our family was stationed in Patuxent Naval Air Station in southern Maryland, in the 1970’s, I would learn to waterski. Long story short, that would lead me to Florida, a sponsorship by Mastercraft, and by my mid-twenties would result in 4 National Water Ski titles.

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I knew water skiing wouldn’t sustain me long-term, so I returned to the Chesapeake Bay area in my late 20’s, where I would go on to own a number of small boats over the years. Settled into the Annapolis area by the year 2000, married with two children, I had moved up to an open-bow 26ft, which was a great boat to cruise around local creeks in the upper Bay. However, by then I was really looking for something that could take me, my wife, Karen, and our best friend Pheobe, much further. We really wanted to explore the Bay.

Appreciate: Annapolis is located in the upper Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake is largest estuary in North America, 200 miles in length, with 11,000 miles of shoreline over 150 rivers. From Annapolis you are within a short distance of many quaint Bay side towns.  St Michaels, Oxford, Chestertown, Harve deGrace, Solomons Island, and the list goes on. We knew these towns by car, but wanted to be able to traverse the Bay in relative comfort, and have the adventure by water.

So we began my search for our ideal boat. This search went on for almost 10 years. It was 2015 when we finally made the decision to move forward with this next stage of our boating life.

I had begun looking at ‘downeast’ boats after a trip to the Long Island area years ago. There were many noteworthy ‘Bay style’ boats around the Chesapeake to consider, but they tended to have lower profiles, showing their Bay heritage in the angle of deadrise. So, as we honed our criteria over a number of years we decided our boat had to:

  • RR 3Look terrific, with a traditional downeast flair
  • Do 14-18 knots to get us somewhere sooner, rather than later;
  • Be economical; we wanted a single engine. I’m mechanically inclined enough to know that 2 engines equals 2x fuel and maintenance
  • Be dry. Angry chop can build quickly on the Bay.
  • Have some essential creature comforts. The Bay area is heavy with heat and humidity in the summer, we needed air conditioning and ice makers to help us stay cool on the hottest days. 

With that list in mind, we were fortunate to learn about Back Cove about 4 years ago. At the time we were looking at the BC 29, but when the 30 was introduced it became clear that the extra space on the helm and aft decks, and the center rear door, made it a winner.

This spring our search ended when we found a lightly used 2013 Back Cove 30 in Ft Myers, Florida. With the help of a broker, she was splashed in Annapolis this past April and has exceeded all expectations in her first season. Appropriately, we named her Wanderlust in the knowledge that she would take us everywhere we desired in safety and comfort.

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St Michaels, Solomons Island, and Baltimore all became short adventures cruises, but the real highlight of the mid-summer was a cruise to the Tides Inn near Irvington, Va. This trip, the week before July 4th , was roughly 90 nautical miles from Annapolis, including a stop-over in Solomons on the way down. It was a fortuitous stop, as a front unexpectedly RR 5moved through the Bay and generated significant rain. We had a great night at Zahnizers Marina, and the next day the weather was fair and clear as we continued south.

The previous days weather made the Potomac crossing challenging; those who cross this 13 mile River mouth will attest that it can have a mindset of its own! Our Back Cove 30, however, did a great job taking us down the final stretch to the mouth of the Rappahannock River. At this point Tides is a short ride up to its location on Carters Creek.

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Once at the Tides, it was all sun and fun, like taking a trip back in time. The Tides marina facility is very modern and up-to-date, and their staff is attentive to an unheard of level.   We spent a number of days enjoying the Tides facilities, and taking short trips to other creeks that dot the Rappahannock in this area.

As summer passed, and the Bay shorelines took on the colors of Fall, we continued to cruise on weekends, and it became clear that we had made the right choice. Wanderlust is the ideal Bay cruising boat we were looking for.  As we closed out 2015 we were already looking forward to the spring, when we can continue our adventures out and about on the Chesapeake Bay.

RR 8Ron & Karen are IT professionals who reside in the Annapolis community of Bay Ridge.   In the summer months Wanderlust’s berth is on Lake Ogleton.

An Ideal Chesapeake Bay Cruiser
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