Easton is a small town located at the top of the Tred Avon River on the Chesapeake Bay. This is a quite little town that has one marina that caters more to shallow draft crabbing boats. Needless to say, an ocean going sailboat is not a common sight to see in this sleepy little town.
Maddie had an art competition in Easton and wanted to go to it while we were out cruising. We had two choices, either stop somewhere and rent a car to drive there or sail there. I checked the charts and saw that the depth in the river leading up to the town is maintained at 8 feet, and we draw 6.5 feet. Naturally, we chose the more complicated way of getting there.
The Chesapeake Bay is a gorgeous location to sail. There are parts that are so wide that you will not see land in any direction. Directly off of the Chesapeake Bay, you will find the Choptank River, which is also rather large and expansive to be called a river in my opinion. Both of these bodies of water are easy to sail on as you can stay on a single tack for hours without running out of deep water to sail in. Off of the Choptank River., you will find the Tred Avon River. This is where the good sailing ends and careful navigational choices begin.
The Tred Avon is very narrow as it joins the Choptank, and only gets more and more narrow as you head up it towards Easton. There is no room to tack, and it twist and turns in such a way that the wind will be coming at you from all angles by the time you finish traversing the river.. Wisdom, our sailboat, has a small electric motor with enough battery capacity to get us in and out of a marina, but not all the way up a river! We needed luck, and lots of it! When we entered the Tred Avon, we were on a dead run and sailing wing on wing! The winds were light and we used all we could capture with our light air sails. As we made our way up the river, the banks came closer together, giving us even less space to work with.
The trees also came closer to us, as they lined the shores edge. Massive oak trees that are full of leaves will stop the wind as effectively as a brick wall! Sailing through this area is tedious, as the wind that reaches your sails is only the wind that has been deflected around the massive trees on shore. This is where further timing comes into play, the tides that is.
Easton has a 3 foot tide, that means that a lot of water will be coming up the river if you can catch it at flood tide. When the trees block your wind, the tide will still carry you along as you slowly make your way up the river.
We were very lucky in that it seemed that the wind was always behind us or on our stern quarter. No matter which way we turned, we were either on a broad reach or wing on wing as we sailed along slowly. The journey was going smoothly until I found some shallow water.
The top of the Tred Avon River is popular with crabbing boats that draw only a few inches of water. This has led to less emphasis on the recordings of soundings in this part of the river, as it is deep enough for them to make their way, but not for us. In one section, two points projected out into the river, making it a very narrow pass and the chart said that it was 11 feet deep on the right side of the river. I kept to the right as we struck the bottom and got stuck. It turns out that the deep water is in the middle of the river, as it usually is, even though the chart said the middle was only 2.0 feet deep. The bottom was soft so we weren't worried about damaging our bottom, instead, we relaxed, ate cheese, and waited for the tide to rise.
Once the tide rose enough, which was 1AM in our case, we floated off the bottom and continued our journey up the river to the town of Easton. When we arrived there, the locals in the marina were shocked to see a large sailboat arrive, especially by sail. We anchored at the top of the channel, which is as far as our keel would let us get to shore and rowed in the rest of the way.
We only needed to spend 1 day in Easton, but we grew to like the small town and spent a week there exploring the streets and sampling the different restaurants. One gem that will always stay in my mind is an Italian restaurant called "Portofino." The owner and chef is from Portofino and his life journey has brought him to this small town of Maryland where he opened a delicious and authentic Italian restaurant.
Spending time here did lead to a bit of a phenomenon. Word apparently got out in the town that a colorful sailboat was anchored in the river, and one day we arrived to find five people taking photographs of our yacht. A local new person was even filming her segment with our boat as the background.
Easton was a very interesting and quaint town. We spent a week there, and just as quietly as we arrived, we also left, riding the tide out of the town and down the river towards deeper and wider waters where we could once again sail to our full potential.