Beat the Heat with Boats and Beaches
For the past few weeks, being out in the sun has been downright masochistic. Stepping outside, the pelting heat was nearly suffocating. On a bicycle, it felt like being blasted by a full body blow-drier. Last Sunday, our city hit 100 degrees for the fourth consecutive day — a natural feat unsurpassed since July 1930. Across the country this year, more than 40,000 daily heat records have been broken, and after the storm that left so many of us without electricity, the heat couldn’t have come at a more inconvenient time.
Wandering around the farmers markets, our local food producers are bemoaning the heat’s effects on this season’s crops. “This is the last week for blueberries, thanks to mother nature,” said one local vendor when I bought a still tasty but admittedly heat-stricken bushel last weekend.
Thankfully, things seem to be easing up outside. This isn’t to say the rest of the summer season is going to be a cakewalk, but we can start thinking again about venturing into the sun and enjoying summer as it should be enjoyed: by the shoreline, in the water, and out at sea.
From George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River in 1776, to the Kennedys’ iconic yachting excursions that captured in celluloid the idealism and spirit of the late post-war era, Washington, D.C. has scattered bits of its history on the water. The Potomac and Anacostia Rivers wind through our neighborhoods, their beauty and power never failing to refresh the senses. If ever you’re feeling blue, take a walk along the Mt. Vernon trail up by Roosevelt Island beside the Potomac River, watch the birds take flight, breathe the air, wrap yourself in the billowing silence and tell me if you don’t feel at least a little better.
And in the Delmarva area, there are plenty of locations for waterfront escape. The Maryland shore has charm, history and abundant seaside culture. Along the Delaware coastlines, popular beach destinations give way to serene waterfront and unforgettable excursions. The odds are, most of you have your house rentals set up. Here are some great things to do.
Offering sailboat rentals, guided kayak and bicycle eco-tours, Coastal Kayak allows guests to experience the bayside marshlands and wildlife from a completely new perspective.
The salt marsh tour is a fanastic addendum to any list of activities. Paddle through the salt marshes around a state wildlife refuge, the feeding grounds for many animals. You’re liable to see herons, osprey, horseshoe crabs and skimmers, among other wildlife. One of the premiere offerings is the exploration of a small sandbar where you get out of your kayak and comb the beach for a variety of beach dwellers such as fiddler crabs, starfish and clams.
Chincoteague and Assateague Islands
Chincoteague Island, just a 30-minute drive from Bethany down Route 1, is Virginia’s only resort island, and one of the more beautiful islands that salt and pepper Virginia’s eastern shore. This rustic, wild-looking beach is famous for its breathtaking and accessible wildlife, oyster beds and clam shoals, migratory birds and packs of wild horses, which often graze casually around the parking area.
Throughout the summer, crowded beaches give way to stretches of secluded shore line, marshes and forests for those willing to walk beyond the crowded entrance. As a Natural Wildlife Preserve, the Chincoteague and Assateague islands harbor plenty of inspiration for the adventurous, Thoreauvian journeyman.
Nassau Valley Vineyards
Producing a wide variety of wines, Nassau Valley is Delaware’s first and only farm winery. The self-guided tour includes a chronicle of wine’s 8,000-year history, up to the processing and production of modern day vineyards. Picnickers are welcome, and specialty tastings and wine and food pairings are available on site or off. Theater and musical groups perform during the summer months. This is an ideal stop on a rainy beach day or a midweek break from the pulsing July sun.
The Oxford-Bellevue Ferry
The Oxford-Bellevue Ferry is also a great way to see the surrounding area of Talbot County. America’s oldest privately owned ferry, established 1683, crosses the Tred Avon River between Oxford and Bellevue, Maryland. It’s a quick trip, 7 to 10 minutes (20 round trip) but it’s a lot of fun and St. Michaels is a pleasant seven-mile bike ride or drive from the Bellevue landing. The ferry can carry cars and motorcycles. For more information visit www.OxfordFerry.com.
The Chesapeake Lighthouse Tours
These tours are a unique look at Chesapeake’s lighthouse heritage, which has assisted the passage of boats for centuries. Captain Mike Richards, who guides the tours, has over 35 years’ experience on the Chesapeake Bay and shares stories of these historic lighthouses and their surrounding areas. Half and full-day tours leave from the Bay Hundred Restaurant at Knapps Narrows Marina, through October. For more information, visit www.ChesapeakeLights.com.
The Tilghman Island Marina
The Tilghman Island Marina is a popular destination spot with transient boaters and boating clubs and groups all throughout the bay, who also offer boat rentals and various charters.
The picturesque marina overlooks the Chesapeake Bay and Nature Area. Offering a quaint ambiance in a park-like setting that caters to boating groups and guests, it’s a great place to enjoy a Chesapeake Bay sunset from the comfort and privacy of your own boat. You can also jet ski, sail, bicycle, fish and take waterway tours. Walk, ride or dinghy to all Island attractions, Inns and restaurants. For more information, visit www.TilghmanMarina.com. ★