by Alice Snively
Shake Down for a New Season
On the West River, you’re close to help if you’ve missed a kink
Greetings once again, fellow gunkholers. A new season of cruising and anchoring opportunities is upon us, and since it’s early, a shakedown cruise might be in order. As a friend of mine joked recently after she and her husband returned from their first outing, “It’s called a shakedown cruise for a reason, and we did shake down a few things we’d overlooked.” For that first adventure of the summer, I’m suggesting a compromise cruise to a less remote gunkhole area.
Shake Down Gently
The West River-Galesville area is an ideal Western Shore destination for a shakedown because of its central location. While there aren’t many traditional gunkholes, there are a few less public anchorages. The lovely town of Galesville offers several restaurants, a museum and stores for supplies. Perhaps just as important, there are several marinas in case you do encounter difficulties.
Even if you’ve had your boat de-winterized, check for yourself that all the critical systems and equipment are in proper working order. Don’t forget life preservers, flares and other emergency equipment; check tags and labels to assure that they aren’t out of date.
Whether your boat is power or sail, it’s always a good idea to change all filters, especially fuel and oil filters. Check bilge pumps to make sure they’re working properly. Make sure drains are clear, check your water system for leaks and assure that the freshwater pump is working.
Also check your depth finder and communications equipment. Perhaps most important are batteries and charging system. Even if the batteries are charging, check the cells in standard batteries to make sure they have proper water levels.
Finding Your Spot
To reach West River from points north, make your way to the Thomas Point Lighthouse. From there, follow a heading of about 240 degrees toward the Green 1A marker, which you should keep to starboard. Shortly, you will see the Red 2 about a mile north of Curtis Point. Stay well to port of this marker because there is a shallow on its starboard side.
If you are traveling from the south, look for the Green 1, which is about two miles south of Thomas Point. From this marker, a course of about 296 degrees will take you to the Green 1A. Then continue to the Red 2 as noted above.
Regardless of approach, about a mile on you’ll see the Green 3 to port. If you turn to starboard, you’ll find a sort of bay between the mouths of Cheston, Scaffold and Popham Creeks. The depth is eight to 10 feet, and you can anchor out of the way of traffic. The creeks themselves are too shallow for safe anchoring.
However, if you want to go farther in or go ashore, continue past the Green 3, keeping it to port, toward the Red 4 spar. The channel narrows here, and there are shoals, so closely watch your navigation. Travel on a heading of about 200 degrees, and the Green 5 day mark will appear just opposite Cox Creek. This is a lovely protected anchorage only if you draw five feet or less. Keep to the south side of the creek as you enter it, and drop anchor opposite the mouth of Tenthouse Creek. But watch your depth in this area and account for tides. From this location it’s a reasonable dinghy ride upriver to any of the marinas, where you can tie up to go ashore.
For boats with drafts of more than five feet, move past the Green 5 and pass the Red 6 marker on the south side of Cox Creek, keeping it well to starboard. This marker is easy to overlook, and you can quickly run aground if you miss it. You can anchor between the two markers in a wide spot on the east side of the river, but it is not protected from the wake of traffic. Once past this marker, you will see the marinas to starboard and the town of Galesville on Councilors Point behind them. You can arrange to tie up at one of them if you want to go ashore.
Gunkholers who want to anchor away from the marinas can move to starboard of Chalk Point, which will be ahead of you, into Smith Creek, (be sure to check your charts carefully) and find the best place to drop anchor where the bend of the creek creates a small basin. Or you can travel east of Chalk Point into South Creek and anchor there. But if you draw more than four feet or so, don’t venture past Chesapeake Yacht Club, which is to port.
Safe, Scenic Shakedown
The anchorages in West River are not secluded, but they are convenient, and the entire area is beautiful and wooded. From any of them you can dinghy to town, and if you do have vessel troubles several marinas are available to service your needs. The West River-Galesville area provides a convenient and scenic compromise for gunkholers making that all-important shakedown journey. But it’s also worth visiting any time for the good food, relaxed atmosphere and interesting sites.