An­napo­lis, Mary­land, is rich in his­tory, but it also has a vi­brant boat­ing scene and plenty of en­tic­ing restau­rants.

Soundings - - Contents - By Gary Re­ich

George Wash­ing­ton, Ben­jamin Franklin and Thomas Jef­fer­son walk into a bar … No, it’s not the be­gin­ning of a joke. These three Found­ing Fa­thers ac­tu­ally hung out in An­napo­lis, Mary­land, on oc­ca­sion. They were known to stop in for a pint at Mid­dle­ton Tav­ern by the har­bor, where you can still or­der a mug of suds and slurp some oys­ters, with rick­ety floors un­der­foot.

The cap­i­tal of Mary­land, An­napo­lis was the first peace­time cap­i­tal of the United States be­tween 1783 and ’84. To­day it’s a city with a cul­ture dom­i­nated not just by his­tory, but also by a ro­bust boat­ing scene. A sign on a city road once read, “Amer­ica’s Sail­ing Cap­i­tal.” The sign was even­tu­ally moved to a saltier sec­tion of town, where it was bet­ter ap­pre­ci­ated, and sailors and power­boaters alike still flock to An­napo­lis to ex­pe­ri­ence the scenic wa­ters, eat and drink at the restau­rants and bars, and soak in the mar­itime vibe.

Right Red Re­turn­ing

The ap­proach to An­napo­lis is friendly and well-marked. Back Creek will come into sight first, to port. Once you’ve rounded the Horn Point shoal marker, An­napo­lis Har­bor and Spa Creek slowly re­veal them­selves. You’ll find city-main­tained moor­ings in the main har­bor and far­ther up Spa Creek beyond the East­port Bridge for $35 a night. The har­bor­mas­ter comes by daily to col­lect the fee, and a pumpout boat makes daily rounds.

An­chor­ing is al­lowed in some open ar­eas, es­pe­cially far­ther up the creek near Trux­tun Park. Far­ther from down­town, Back Creek is also pep­pered with city-run moor­ings for $35 a night, and it has more space for an­chor­ing.

A wa­ter taxi net­work runs around both creeks to prom­i­nent spots ashore. You can hail a ride on VHF chan­nel 68 or by dial­ing (410) 263-0033. Fares run be­tween $3 and $8, de­pend­ing on dis­tance.

Vir­tu­ally ev­ery inch of shore­line on both Spa and Back creeks is dedicated to mari­nas and marine ser­vice fa­cil­i­ties, so find­ing a place to tie up is gen­er­ally easy. How­ever, on week­ends, es­pe­cially hol­i­day week­ends, reser­va­tions are es­sen­tial.

If you re­ally want to be part of the ac­tion, the city main­tains bulk­head and slip spa­ces on Ego Al­ley, smack in the mid­dle of down­town. The rec­tan­gle-shaped sliver of wa­ter is named for the stream of boats that parade up and down as peo­ple ashore gawk at the pro­ces­sion of fiber­glass and horse­power.

Fuel is avail­able at two fuel docks on An­napo­lis Har­bor proper — An­napo­lis Yacht Basin and An­napo­lis City Ma­rina. Back Creek’s An­napo­lis Land­ing Ma­rina also serves up gas and diesel.

Shore Leave

An­napo­lis’ wa­ter­front scene can pri­mar­ily be di­vided into two ar­eas. Down­town An­napo­lis is on the north side of Spa Creek and is filled with his­toric homes, brick-clad streets and side­walks, and more shops and restau­rants than a per­son can visit in a day. The U.S. Naval Academy is worth a stop; John Paul Jones is in­terred be­neath the Academy Chapel. Leave your bi­cy­cles on the boat, and bring a valid photo ID.

The Mary­land State House and other his­toric prop­er­ties, such as the Wil­liam Paca House (186 Prince George St.) and Charles Car­roll House (107 Duke of Glouces­ter St.) are also in­ter­est­ing. With lots to see and take in, sim­ply walk­ing around is a plea­sure.

When you get hun­gry, most eater­ies are within walk­ing dis­tance. Joss Café & Sushi Bar (195 Main St.) has pre­mium sushi. Fox’s Den (179B Main St.) is a new­comer to the scene, serving a gas­tropub menu with an ex­cel­lent se­lec­tion of craft beers. Chick & Ruth’s Delly

(165 Main St.) is a beloved in­sti­tu­tion that has a var­ied menu, and locals rec­om­mend it for break­fast. The Iron Rooster (12 Mar­ket Space) also gets rave break­fast and brunch re­views.

Lots of vis­i­tors want to sit down and pick steamed blue crabs — a quintessen­tially Mary­land thing to do. If you want the real deal, grab an Uber or Lyft and head to Cantler’s River­side Inn ( 458 For­est Beach Road). You might have to wait for a seat, but you’ll be re­warded with lots of fat steamed crabs piled high on craft pa­per. They’re caught pri­mar­ily by the own­ers from lo­cal wa­ters.

East­port is down­town An­napo­lis’ re­bel­lious neigh­bor across Spa Creek, pop­u­lated by salty folks with a love for the wa­ter and a pen­chant for mis­chievous civil protest. When the draw­bridge join­ing the two com­mu­ni­ties across Spa Creek closed for re­pairs in 1998, East­port res­i­dents se­ceded, form­ing their own faux gov­ern­ment, air force and navy. They even gave East­port a new name: The Mar­itime Repub­lic of East­port. The penin­sula the neigh­bor­hood lies on is loaded with mari­nas, boat­yards, restau­rants and other mar­itime-ori­ented busi­nesses.

Hun­gry or thirsty folks look­ing to tune in to the lo­cal boat­ing scene will want to visit Davis’ Pub (400 Ch­ester Ave.) or Boat­yard Bar & Grill (400 Fourth St.). Davis’ is an au­then­tic neigh­bor­hood pub with good grub, ex­cel­lent ser­vice and well-poured drinks — a lo­cal fa­vorite. Boat­yard Bar & Grill is on the north side of the East­port penin­sula and serves all sorts of dishes, in­clud­ing seafood and steaks. You’ll want to take ad­van­tage of its raw bar and throw back some lo­cal oys­ters.

Fancier seafood din­ing is at Chart House ( 300 Sec­ond St.), Car­rol’s Creek Café ( 410 Sev­ern Ave.), and O’Learys Seafood (310 Third St.). Car­rol’s Creek Café and Chart House have amaz­ing views of the har­bor. On Wednesday evenings, the An­napo­lis Yacht Club’s weekly sum­mer sail­ing races fin­ish at the East­port Bridge, the boats glid­ing right by your ta­ble.

Once you’ve done all the “must do” items on your list, lounge about the boat and en­joy the rhythm of the city. An­napo­lis is an amaz­ing place that has some­thing for ev­ery­one.

An­napo­lis Har­bor is the cen­ter of ac­tiv­ity in this his­toric city.

Sailboats rac­ing on Wednesday nights pour into An­napo­lis Har­bor for the fin­ish at the East­port Bridge.

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