After misadventure, Cantler's, Pusser's and Annapolis

Sorting crabs, by size, at Cantler's crab house near White Hall Bay. BY DENNIS FORNEY
July 25, 2014

I was just getting out of my truck last Friday evening after backing Nellie Lankford's trailer into a spot beneath a street light at the Matapeake launching ramp parking lot.

I heard yelling.

Turning my head toward Chesapeake Bay, I saw Becky running as hard as she could up the hill from the ramp.

All she was yelling - very unusual for Becky - was one word: PLUUUUG! PLUUUG!

Uh oh.  I forgot to put the plug in the back of the boat and Nellie was taking on water fast.  Only one thing to do.  Jump back in the truck and back the trailer down the hill, keeping an eye on the ramp, watching other people walking by wondering what was happening, hoping my six cylinder Toyota had enough guts to yank a boat filling with water.

It did.  Crisis averted.  And the journey went uphill from there - after about fifteen minutes of a steady stream of bay water flowing from the hull's plug hole.  What can I say?  It's been a while since we've had Nellie out.

A setting sun guided us out of the Matapeake harbor and we set Nellie's bow toward the lights of Annapolis.  Cam as a dish, as the watermen say, the bay had on its gentlest spirit as we crossed from the Eastern Shore to the Western Shore.

Classic Annapolis.  We grabbed mooring buoys two nights.  The first in Spa Creek, just above the Eastport drawbridge, and the second night in Back Creek.  During the day we went up the Severn to visit with Meredith and Ford at their Epping Forest headquarters, brought them on board, and then motored up the Chesapeake a ways into White Hall Bay with our eyes and stomachs set on a crab house named Cantlers.  Everything was great there with lots of people eating $90/dozen hard crabs, crab cakes, soft crabs and cold beer and sodas.

Down below where we tied up along the dock, young men were sorting the day's catch. Becky and I each had a fried seafood platter including a crab cake, a soft crab, and a couple of fresh rockfish filets.  They were all lightly breaded and cooked perfectly.  It's tough to beat seafood properly fried.

At the mooring Friday night, young folks came by in the dark on paddle boards with small, solar-powered lanterns on the sterns. Quiet and magical, reflecting on the scene puts me in the mind of Tinkerbell.

One young lady stopped to chat.  We lifted the cap off an icy 7-ounce Bud Light with Lime, she was most thankful, and she talked about her South African roots and work as a steward on luxury yachts.  She told us where we could rent paddle boards and told us her name was Phillipa von Hoesslen.  Her South African accent was distinguished and she spoke very articulately. "It's an Afrikaans accent," she said. The name sounded royal to me.

"Are you a princess?" I asked.

"No," she said, "but I do come from good heritage."

I liked that.

On Sunday morning we made our way back up Spa Creek to the Capital Stand Up Paddle Board Center. Two boards for an hour. $25 each.  Worth every penny of it. Anchored Nellie with Meredith and Ford keeping an eye on her, and proceeded to explore the nooks and crannies of settled Annapolis around the creek.  Like walking on water and a good core workout.

After an hour we had worked up a hunger and a thirst.  Motored back out Spa Creek and into Ego Alley in the heart of downtown. Pusser's had room at their dock so we tied up, sat at a table within spittin' distance of the passing boats, and ate fish tacos made with mahi mahi.  They were great and the No. 3 Pain Killer softened all the edges.

As the day turned to afternoon, we bid adieu to Meredith and Ford, and motored back across to Matapeake.  No more plug issues and back in Lewes by 4 p.m. with a nice shower on the way to wash the boat.

Sweet, sweet summertime.