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You don’t have to own a boat to get out on the water on the Delmarva Peninsula. Here are a few easy options, available in ticketed fashion rather than by putting a group together and chartering a vessel.

• THE STEAM FERRY: The Patriot is a replica 1930s steam ferry that offers narrated cruises on various themes along the Miles River, sailing out of St. Michaels, Md. You board right near the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. Details and schedule.

• THE PADDLEWHEELER: The Choptank Riverboat Company runs Mississippi-River-style paddleboat cruises along the Choptank River. Lunch cruises, dinner cruises, murder-mystery cruises–there is quite a menu of themes. The paddlewheelers sail out of the dock at Suicide Bridge Restaurant, along the backroads of Dorchester County, Md.–kinda sorta near Hurlock. Details.

• 17TH-CENTURY STYLE: Delawware’s official tall ship, the Kalmar Nyckel is a meticulously crafter replica of a vessel that brought Swedish settlers to Delaware in the 1600s. It offers public sails out of Wilmington and New Castle, Del. in the warmer months. Details.

• SKIPJACK H.M. KRENTZ: Join Capt. Ed Farley for an educational cruise aboard a skipjack, a style of sailing ship that’s iconic on the Chesapeake Bay. Built in 1955, H.M. Krentz sails out of St. Michaels, Md. Details.

• SKIPJACK NATHAN OF DORCHESTER: Another skipjack option is available in Cambridge, Md., where the Nathan of Dorchester offers frequent public sails departing from pretty Long Wharf on the Choptank River. Details.

• AN EARLY 1900s YACHT: The Chester River Packet is a 65-foot, 1920s-style yacht that does public sails out of Chestertown, Md. There is a whole slate of brunch, dinner, and special-occasion cruises on the calendar. Details.

• 18th CENTURY SCHOONER: The Sultana is a replica built from the plans of a schooner from the late 1700s that patrolled the Chesapeake Bay for the British. The crew there offers occasional two-hour public sails out of Chestertown, Md. Details.

• ON THE DELAWARE BAY: The folks at the popular Cape Water Tours offer a menu of themed adventures aboard the multiple vessels they sail out of Lewes, Del. Think eco-tours, dolphin watching, and much more. Details.

Skipjacks on the Choptank Photo Product Photo

Skipjacks on the Choptank by Jill Jasuta Photography–click on the photo to see more of her skipjack shots.

• SMITH ISLAND: Capt. Everett Landon dates his roots on the island back six generations. He’s been a waterman and a minister in the past. These days, his Experience Smith Island business offers a variety of themed boat tours focused on island life, culture, and nature. Details. For more of a self-guided experience, info on  transport boats from the Smith Island tourism page can be found here.

• PELICANS: Delmarva Birding leads tours out to the spectacular brown pelican rookery near Smith Island, Md. in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay. Details. Another pelican-tour option is available through the outfit listed just above here, Smith Island Experience.

• TANGIER ISLAND: You can venture out to storied Tangier Island, Va. from boats that leave from Crisfield, Md. (info here) or Onancock, Va. (info here).

• 1950s SCHOONER: The schooner Windsong is now taking small groups (up to six) on daysails and sunset sails out of Cape Charles, Va. Details.

• THE BARRIER ISLANDS OF VIRGINIA: The islands are an uninhabited natural wonder open to visitors who follow some easy eco-friendly rules that vary by season of the year. One option is Virginia Coast Ecotours (info here). Another is to hire a certified guide (info here).

• CHESAPEAKE SAILS: Capt. Phil Gootee is a fishing-charter captain in Dorchester County, Md. who also puts together several special cruises during the warmer months focused on Hoopers Island, Chesapeake Bay lighthouse, and other themes. Details.

–posted by Jim Duffy in April 2023 for Secrets of the Eastern Shore/Whimbrel Creations LLC.

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