by Alice Snively
La Trappe Creek
Pack for cool nights, cook comfort foods, discover a bight and watch the sun set
It’s autumn on the Bay, defined for most boaters as after Labor Day. Recreational boat traffic is a mere fraction of what it was mid-summer. The weather is sunny and mostly dry, and temperatures are pleasantly warm by day and cool at night. It’s a great time for another weekend cruise. Why not a visit to the Choptank River?
Take a Bight Out of La Trappe
For a weekend trip, La Trappe Creek is an easy destination. There are several anchorages on this scenic little waterway, but a good first place to drop your hook is inside the bight that embraces part of the mouth of the creek. This feature, formed by a sandbar expanding from the western bank, has some beach and also vegetation ranging from scrubby bushes to trees, and still affords a view across the river itself.
La Trappe is located on the northeast shore of the river across from Lecompte Bay. Consult your charts to reach Choptank River and proceed to the Red 10 bell buoy well inside the wide mouth of the river. From there, proceed on a heading of about 103 degrees for about six miles to the Red 14. Thence a heading of 133 degrees will take you a little less than two miles to the Red 16. Be sure to keep this buoy well to starboard when you pass, because the water shallows to two feet on the south side of it.
Traveling nearly due east, you will see the Red 18 about a mile ahead. A little way southeast of that will be the Red 18A buoy, and you should head toward it. Keep it to starboard and turn more easterly. Look for the Green 1 to port, about a mile away. It’s located just off Martin Point. You will think you’re going to pass the creek, but be patient. It’s necessary to go this far over to miss the shallows extending from the sandbar that creates the bight. Keep this buoy well to port, then turn north toward the Red 2 just inside the mouth of the creek. You’ll feel like you’re almost reversing course, but little wind is necessary to keep you away from the shallows on both sides of the channel. Keep close to this buoy, but keep it on your starboard side.
You will see the entrance to the bight to port just a little farther upstream, and you can anchor anywhere inside in about seven to eight feet of water and fairly close to shore. However, the cove does shallow out farther west, so keep an eye on your depth finder. Most of the shore is posted, but you can dinghy to the beach sand sprit. To the west is a home in the woods, and there are woods to the north and across the creek to the east. Note that this location is fairly open to the south and southeast, so it’s not a place to go if heavy weather is coming from that direction.
Tips for Cool Fall Cruising
Even if the weather is predicted to be warm and dry for your adventure, we all know that NOAA is not infallible. So there are some extra little things you can do just in case. If you don’t normally keep blankets on your boat, be sure to take some along. If the temperature drops more than expected, you will still be toasty warm in bed.
Now’s the time to unpack your sweaters and heavier jackets, and those who pride themselves on going sockless during the summer may want to bring along some crew socks. Let’s face it; cold feet are no fun, regardless of the cause. If you are going out when it’s really cool, remember to take mufflers, gloves and warm headgear. Do I sound like your mother?
Consider provisioning differently. The splendid cool salads of summer might not be the best choice for a cool cruise. This is the time for soup, canned if you really don’t want to cook. Or make one of your favorite comfort-food soups. Cream of crab soup and oyster stew come to mind. Cheese, crackers and fall fruits like apples and pears make healthy, no-fuss go-withs for soups on a short cruise. Let the crisp coolness inspire you to make a hearty breakfast to take the morning chill off the boat and its crew. Omelets and frittatas are easy; you can put a whole lot of goodies in and have it all in one big skillet.
If you have a source for heating your boat, make sure it’s in good working order before you launch. The rule of thumb is that if it’s not working, you’ll need it.
If you time your cruise to the turning of the leaves, then you may want to have your camera to photograph the colors and migrating birds.
For a short weekend trip from anywhere on the middle of the Bay, La Trappe is a lovely spot to visit. It’s quiet and semi-sheltered, and the beautiful sunsets aren’t obscured by too many trees.