You have a hunger in your belly. You’re out with friends. You’re on a boat somewhere on the Chesapeake Bay. Everything is pointing to your next big adventure: Dinner by boat. Wondering where to dock and dine along the shores of the Chesapeake near Annapolis? There are plenty of great options if you’re lucky enough to be cruising here in the land of pleasant living.
You can arrive in Annapolis Harbor by boat and make your way to any restaurant within walking distance of City Dock or Eastport. Chart House and Carrol’s Creek Café are perched on the waterfront, and it’s an easy stroll to the many great restaurants along Main Street, West Street, Maryland Avenue, and Eastport’s Severn Avenue. And we can’t forget the City’s various yacht clubs, which provide unique dining and docking options for their members and guests.
If you decide to head a little farther up or downstream from Annapolis, you’ll find other great choices. The Severn Inn is a classy place with fair-weather docking but gorgeous sunset views of Annapolis. Cantler’s Riverside Inn off Whitehall Bay is a classic crab house with brown paper rolled out on the tables for picking crabs. Head around Horn Point at the east end of Eastport and cruise up Back Creek to get to Davis’ Pub and other Eastport eateries via a short walk from a street-end dock.
The really adventurous can travel farther afield to the Magothy River or southward to the South River, West River, or Herring Bay for more fun waterfront restaurants. Or head across the Bay, and you’ll find Hemingway’s and other great dining options along Kent Island’s shore. These destinations are an easy afternoon cruise from Annapolis.
Now, I’m not going to lie—your greatest challenge in making your dinner by boat dreams come true will be finding a decent place to dock the boat (something like finding a good parking place for your land yacht when arriving by car). Somehow you’ve got to secure the boat so it’s safe from incoming weather and seas and then make sure your crew moves from the boat to terra firma without getting soaked.
Back in Annapolis, the far end of Ego Alley near the Market House has public bulkhead docking for boats up to 17 feet in length. If you’re longer than 17 feet, then your best bet is to grab a mooring buoy, check in with the Harbormaster, and hop on your own dinghy or hail a Watermark water taxi. It is also possible to anchor at no charge on the outside edge of the Annapolis Harbor subject to certain restrictions.
The Harbormaster’s Office at 1 Dock Street monitors VHF channels 17 and 9 and answers the phone at 410-263-7973. With some restrictions, you can tie up in Ego Alley in a slip or along the bulkheads. Out in the Harbor, numerous public moorings are available on a first-come-first-served basis. The “Front Forty” mooring field in Spa Creek between the Spa Creek Bridge and the Naval Academy is the most popular, with forty mooring balls renting at $35 per night. Other mooring fields are located farther up Spa Creek in Saint Mary’s Cove, Well’s Cove, and off Truxtun Park, and there are five public buoys on Back Creek.
Once on a mooring, it’s easy to call a water taxi at 410-263-0033 or VHF channel 68. Watermark Cruises is the private operator of the water taxi service throughout the Annapolis Harbor, Spa Creek, and Back Creek. Their knowledgeable boat captains can point you in the right direction whatever you’re looking to do. The service operates almost continuously on demand at $3.00 to $8.00 per person, depending on your destination. Look for the water taxi stand near the Harbormaster’s office at Ego Alley.
If you have a dinghy along and you’re tied to a City mooring, you can find City dinghy docks along Spa Creek and Back Creek at several parks and 22 street-end landings wherever public streets meet the water. Except in Ego Alley, the dinghy docks are for boats under twelve feet.
Heading to Annapolis and its surroundings by boat for dinner is a perfect way to enjoy an evening with friends. Of course, there is always another option—you can bring some provisions and prepare a wonderful dinner on the boat without ever going ashore—but we’ll save that adventure for another day. In the meantime, gather up some friends, find a boat, choose a restaurant, and bring your appetite onboard. Dinner is waiting!
Photos by Ann Powell.