Cruising the Chesapeake: Taking a Baycation

Reasons To Plan Your Sailing Vacation in Your Home Waters

When planning your summer cruising vacation, why not consider a Baycation on your sailboat or on a Chesapeake charter sailboat? When I think about all of the things that make a charter vacation such a wonderful escape, it’s not just the blazing white beaches, palm trees, and shimmering waters that make it so. It’s also the sound of water rushing under the hull; it’s the freedom to sleep as late as you want and go wherever the wind lets you go; it’s the sheer exhilaration of practically living outdoors for days on end.

Sailboats in an anchorage in the Chesapeake Bay
Cruising sailboats anchored in the Rhode River on the Chesapeake Bay. Photo by Molly Winans/ SpinSheet

Since I own a boat, I get a little bit of that feeling on weekends, but the doses of it are tantalizingly brief. This year, for a change of pace, we’ve decided to spend a whole week, and the bracketing weekends, aboard Calypso.

As many of us have noticed, several charter companies have set up new bases in what we’re lucky enough to call our home base: Chesapeake Bay. Why not do the same ourselves? For a variety of reasons, Rick and I haven’t spent a week on our own boat since 2004. When there are no plane tickets, hotel rooms or charter contracts paid for, the scheduled week on home waters is not as sacrosanct. Work and family commitments erode the reserved week, and often my imagination conjures up bluer waters.

This year, however, we’re hoping things will be different. I’ve inked the chosen week onto my calendar and plan to treat it as sacred as a “paid-for” vacation. My first week-long sailing experiences were on charter boats, so I took away from those experiences many ideas of how to make my own boat as comfortable and convenient as a charter boat. But with my own boat, I have been able to take it one step further—customizing comfort for myself and using equipment and supplies much nicer than those provided for strangers. So unlike a charter boat, my boat has down pillows, cushy towels, a chef’s knife, and a French press. It may not be a Four Seasons hotel, but it’s a few notches more luxurious than a run-of-the-mill charter boat.

Far-flung or remote charter destinations feature the twin inconveniences of a limited ability to bring preferred supplies along with me, and few sources of supplies at my destination. But sailing from my home base, I have my choice of supermarkets and liquor stores and can stock my boat with whatever goodies I want to have on hand. And yet, if I want to spend my holiday free of galley wench responsibilities, waterfront restaurants are never too far away.

The ultimate luxury of a sailing vacation on my home waters is the ability to take advantage of time. On the one hand, I’m giving myself the gift of an extended period of time in which to explore beyond my weekend cruising grounds. As much time as Rick and I have spent on Calypso and her predecessors, we’ve never been north of Bodkin Creek or south of Solomons Island. Our “Bay-cation” week will allow us to go beyond those limits.

Similarly, we seldom get to explore our Bay on non-weekend days. On those occasions that we have, it has seemed like an entirely different body of water—free of the rush and congestion of everyone (including ourselves) trying to make the most of precious days off.

Of course, time is not the only commodity that is spared on a local sailing vacation. Once you assume that the costs of owning and maintaining the boat would have been incurred regardless, money is the other savings. And that is plenty of enticement to take advantage of sailing at “home.” 

by Eva Hill

This article first appeared in SpinSheet 2013 and still applies today!

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