by Alice Snively
Mill Creek Bight
You can have the best of two worlds from this tidy anchorage on the Lower Patuxent
Ever have one of those vacations when you really, really didn’t want to come home? A cruise to the Patuxent River will take you to that never-leave place. The time will fly. The complaint that it’s crowded in the marinas and creeks right at Solomons is valid, but here’s a great gunkhole close enough to give you quiet and Solomons, while opening up new upstream adventures.
A Bight, Not a Bite
Whether correct or not, we have dubbed it Mill Creek Bight, (quiz on bight later), because it’s located in, of course, Mill Creek. But you want to know where is this creek in relation to Solomons. Actually there are two Mill Creeks. One is in Solomons, east of Back Creek in Calvert County. That is not the one you want. To find the other, St. Mary’s County, Mill Creek and its protected, less crowded anchorage, consult your charts and plot a course into the Patuxent River. You will pass the entrances to Solomons and travel under the Governor Johnson Bridge, (clearance 140 feet, sailors, so fear not). Note that there’s a large magnetic anomaly in this area, so beware if you are using a compass-driven autopilot.
Point Patience is prominent ahead, projecting from the eastern shore; you will pass around to port. From the Red No. 8 light at the tip of Point Patience, a course of 344 degrees will take you to the Green No. 9 Patuxent River lighted marker. This marks the south side of the entrance into both Mill and Cuckhold creeks. Just past it, turn to port and follow the markers past Half Pone Point, off your starboard. As you clear the Red No. 4 marker off the point, swing to port and enter Mill Creek. You’ve found your lovely, protected bight. It has plenty of depth, a beach where you can land your dinghy and a small pond and marsh to explore just inside the point. We spotted pipefish in the waters here.
If you want to avoid Solomons, you can do a lot from this home base. At the end of the first cove to starboard is Placid Harbor Conference Center. It’s not generally open to the public but does have some slips, showers, heads and ice. Contact the dockmaster for permission to dock there.
Just inside the main entrance to Mill and Cuckhold creeks is Clarke’s Landing Restaurant and Bar. There are transient slips for patrons, but you should check depth before using any of them. Proceeding to starboard up Cuckhold Creek past Nat Creek, the stream widens and Blackstone Marina appears to port with a marine store, showers, heads, gas and diesel. Upstream are several pleasant anchorages.
From our base, we also cruised upriver to St. Leonard’s Creek and to the famous Vera’s White Sands, under new ownership and newly restored as a beach club [Vol. xiv, No 26: June 22], where you can get a transient slip for the night or tie up to dine. (Hours vary; call ahead: 410-586-1182.) The creek is picturesque, with interesting homes dotted along the way and several gunkholes for quiet, protected anchoring.
Across the river from the entrance to St. Leonard’s Creek is Sotterly Plantation, which dates to 1717 and is Maryland’s only Tidewater mansion open to the public. There is dockage for visitors and tours during the summer months. (Hours vary so call ahead: 301-373-2280.)
Shallow Drafts Only
Just upstream from the plantation you will find, (if you really look for it), St. Thomas Creek. Nearly invisible, it’s a delight for gunkholers in boats with shallow draft. If you can navigate over the bar with three-foot depth at the entrance, you’ll find a beautiful, protected anchorage with seven feet of water.
Upstream on the Calvert side of the river is Island Creek, also with a tricky shallow entrance and not recommended for boats with more than a three-foot draft. Inside, the creek opens up and deepens to eight feet or more with good anchorages. Stoney’s Seafood House on Broomes Island is a highly rated crab house with dockage for diners, but depth may be a problem so it’s best to go by dinghy (410-586-1888). There are also a couple of small marinas with limited supplies along this creek.
This sampling of places for gunkholers to explore, dine and tour along the Patuxent is perfect for those who want to avoid the crowds at Solomons, but the Mill Creek Bight is also a great base for making day trips to Solomons. You can have both worlds from this tidy anchorage.
Okay, what’s a bight? It’s a bay or cove created by a bend or curve in the shoreline.