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Volume 15, Issue 28 ~ July 12 - July 18, 2007

Gunk- Holin’
by Alice Snively

Dividing Creek: Wye River East

Not Just a Port in the Storm

The threat of nasty weather so common this time of year drove us to Dividing Creek off the Wye East River. This well-known gunkhole wasn’t high on my list of destinations to report. However, our experience there was so much fun that I changed my priorities. This creek is frequently crowded during the prime boating season, which is why we’d not gone there before. But it’s also a great protected spot for hurricanes as well as inclement northerlies. It’s a comparatively narrow stream with high (for Eastern Shore) banks, which are nicely wooded and not lined with houses.

Snap Shots

Instead of going upstream where there were four other boats, we decided to anchor in a cozy little cove just to port past the entrance. We were greeted by a soaring bald eagle, a pleasant portent of things to come. Part of the joy of gunkholing is closeness to Mother Nature, and she blessed us. Once anchored, in a light rain, as we battened down I saw a snapping turtle, its head and snout just breaking the surface of the water. The critter was observing us from a distance. The next day, we discovered that there were a sizeable number of snappers in the cove. We enjoyed watching them swim around and climb onto fallen logs to convene in tight clusters in the sun.

Skate-ing and Stalking

Staring into the waters the second day, I was surprised to see a beautiful skate, about two feet across, a foot under water gliding past our bowline. It had been a long time since I’d seen one of these graceful creatures. Fortunately for us, it played around in the cove the rest of the afternoon.

A diminutive green heron appeared on a fallen log near shore and stalked along for dinner in the shallows. Not long after a great blue heron, much more common but no less interesting, joined the search. All the while, ospreys were spying from above.

Christmas in July?

After dark I stepped outside to survey the night and was stunned by tiny, blinking yellow-white lights filling the crescent of trees surrounding the cove. Thousands of fireflies celebrating summer turned the woods and our anchorage into a fairyland, reminiscent of a flock of Christmas trees strung with twinkle lights. It was mesmerizing and held us rapt long into the night.

The Way to Fairyland

Achieve Dividing Creek by first cruising to Eastern Bay, either from the northern shortcut through Kent Narrows, or through its main access off the southern end of Kent Island. Get out your charts and locate Eastern Bay. East of center of this bay, just north of Tilghman Point, locate the Red 4 marker. If you come from the Bay side (west), travel northeast to this marker. If you’ve come through Kent Narrows, travel southeast. From this mark, follow a course of about 168 degrees to the Red Nun 8. The large, privately owned white lighthouse at the tip of Bennett Point to port is another prominent landmark.

At the Red Nun, turn east to a course of about 101 degrees and travel to the Green 3. Change to a northeast course, and look for the Red 4 to starboard and ahead of you. You are now in the mouth of the Wye River. Continue up to the end of Bruff Island (which looks like a peninsula) to starboard. Turn to starboard around the northern tip of the island, not coming too close to shore. Keep an eye on your depth here. This is the Wye East River. The channel loops to the south; follow along to the Red 2 daymark and keep it close to starboard. Continue easterly toward the Green 3, keeping it to port. From here there are no more markers.

The channel runs northeast from this marker. Follow it for about a mile, keeping very close watch on depth since there is shoaling from both banks of the river, though more from Wye Island on the port side than to starboard. Soon you will see the wide mouth of Quarter Cove to starboard. Dividing Creek is to port on the opposite side of the river. Stay in the river channel until you are directly abreast of the entrance to the creek and enter in the center or slightly to port, going slowly and watching for shoals. The entrance is narrow but has enough depth for sailboats with drafts up to six feet or so.

Once inside the creek, either anchor in the cove we chose to port, or move up the creek where the depth runs seven to nine feet nearly to its headwaters.

We were there during the week, so there were few boats, making our stay all the more peaceful. The snapping turtles will not bother you and the water is not polluted, so the swimming is good. I highly recommend this delightful anchorage, storm or no.

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