Strategic marina makes it easy to enjoy the best of this city
By Terry Woehr
GH37 Berlie Mae
First impressions are invaluable. Anchorage Marina and the City of Baltimore have beckoned us since our first visit there some years back. We arrived at Anchorage Marina after a long, hot, wet day of travel on our Harley coming up from the Outer Banks. We had been teased by storm clouds all day-putting raingear on, taking raingear off. We decided that the foreboding clouds building to the north and west were going to be more teasers, so we foolishly decided not to stop and gear up. Arriving at the gate to Anchorage Marina’s parking lot, we looked like a spoof of the type of people other people ignore.
Bill Shermer, also affectionately known as Mother Goose, greeted two very wet, dirty bikers without reservation—at least none that we could detect. Shermer is Blue Goose Charters, a trawler charter and trawler training school based at Anchorage Marina. During the winter months, we contacted Blue Goose Charters and set up a charter/training week with Bill. A great week it was. Bill has an excellent fleet of trawlers, both single- and twin-screw and maintains them impeccably. From that point forward, Bill and the crew aboard Berlie Mae have spent many hours learning the art of handling a Great Harbour 37 with its enormous sail area. In fact, Berlie Mae and Blue Goose Charters are Mirage’s “official trainers”.
Anchorage Marina is in a perfect location for spending a day, week, month or longer on the docks. Inbound, Anchorage is just outside the Inner Harbor of Baltimore to starboard, an hour (trawler time) from the Francis Scott Key Bridge.
Speaking of the Key Bridge, there is a buoy (red white and blue) that marks the place where Francis Scott Key, prisoner on a British ship watching “the rockets red glare” over Fort McHenry, penned our national anthem. At Fort McHenry, your cruising speed is reduced to 6 mph—enforced throughout the Inner Harbor area. The marina has slips to accommodate everything from small craft to megayachts. The piers at Anchorage are gated and accessed electronically; you’ll see lots of folks in the ’hood with blue and white lanyards around their necks, gate passes attached.
Anchorage also has Gene—the nighttime security guard. Omnipresent, Gene will help you tie up if you arrive after hours, and will cheerfully assist you in any way. We prefer the outside bulkhead “P” pier as opposed to being in a slip closer to land for two reasons.
First, we love watching the boat traffic in and out of the harbors and marinas beyond Anchorage. We had a front row seat watching the USS Constellation—the last all-sail ship in the U.S. Navy and a veteran of the Civil War—make its way from its permanent berth in the Inner Harbor to Annapolis, complete with its escort of tugs, fireboats, helicopters and a flyover of military jets. Secondly, we travel with cats, and OC loves “shoreleave”. Being so far from the gate, we have a place he can roam without serious concern that he might escape. Since we have been visiting Anchorage Marina, we have found many FOC’s dockside;,that is, “friends of cats.”
If you arrive “during the season,” C pier (you get to P pier via C) has a glistening swimming pool, dockside picnic area with grills, tables and head facilities. Shoreside, you will find a first-class boaters lounge, with a large screen TV and Internet hookups. Speaking of the Internet, Anchorage now had WiFi, wireless Internet. What a treat! Opposite the boaters lounge is the main head/shower facilities and a great laundry room. They are climate controlled and spotlessly maintained. Inside the laundry room there is a book exchange area as well.
Now, if the above still leaves you wondering, just walk outside the marina gates-voila! A wonderful world beckons you. Need to provision? Across Boston Street a Safeway grocery store awaits with its good meats, produce and deli. However, before you go there, take a few minutes to visit Kiss Café in the “Can Company” building. Kiss Café is a wonderful place to revive your soul. This eclectic venue offers an amazing choice of coffees and a full-service booze bar. It offers everything from a continental breakfast to full course dinners. Kiss has WiFi so you can browse the web and people watch at the same time. Other nearby restaurants include the Outback
Steakhouse, Redfish Grill (excellent and pricier) and Austin Grill, a Tex-Mex place.
If your hole in the water needs to have more money poured into it, you will be happy to know West Marine is here, too, just a short walk to the other side of Safeway.
Baltimore is famous for its neighborhoods. You may have heard of them: The Inner Harbor, Federal Hill, Fell’s Point, Little Italy and Canton, to name but a few. Anchorage Marina is in Canton, a now thriving, going-upscale neighborhood. A short walk up O’Donnell Street you will find “The Square”, the heart and soul of the Canton neighborhood. Pubs and upscale restaurants inhabit every corner, not to mention a great liquor store.
If you docked your craft on “P” pier you might have observed various water taxi services. Over the years, we have found over many years that the water taxi service in Baltimore is the best way to get from place to place along the waterfront. It just so happens that a water taxi ‘station’ is next door to the marina. Just head to land and turn right. Go across a wooden footbridge and come to a small waterfront park with a dock. The taxis come by every 20 minutes or so. For a small fare, you can go from Anchorage Marina to visit some of Baltimore’s “don’t miss” list.
The National Aquarium is truly a gift to all who visit. It is a multi-story grand scale aquatic show. The Aquarium is an all day affair. Hungry? Take the water taxi to Fell’s Point and try a meal at “Bertha’s Mussels”. Easy to find along Fell’s Point’s main drag, Bertha’s Mussels do indeed have excellent mussels and an intimate salty atmosphere. Fell’s Point also has its seedy element. For the most part, they don’t appear to convey hostility, just folks in an “altered state of mind.” Another museum that should be on your must see list is the American Visionary Art Museum. Seven galleries (soon to be even bigger) hold creations by people from all walks—the physically and emotionally disabled, the homeless, tinkerers, writers, all of whom possessed an inner fire. These artists have transformed their pain, their losses, and their dreams into works of art that can only be described as powerful and cathartic.
Of course, depending on the time of year you visit, there is always the possibility of taking in a Baltimore Orioles baseball game at historic Camden Yards, or a Baltimore Ravens football game. Both stadiums are within walking distance of a water taxi station. Washington, DC and all it has to offer, museums, memorials, protests, and cherry blossoms are just a commuter train ride away. The commuter train station is located nearby at Camden Yards. And, did know that your admission to most of Washington’s museums has been prepaid…by your tax dollars!
All in all, the crew of the Berlie Mae finds Baltimore to be at the top of our list of big cities worth visiting while cruising. And Anchorage Marina is the best place we have found for exploring the many facets of Baltimore. From ease of provisioning your galley, finding that marine part, sightseeing, and just plain rest and relaxation, you’ll enhance your Baltimore experience by reserving a slip at Anchorage Marina. Ask to speak with Valerie or Jacob. They will take excellent care of your needs while staying at Anchorage Marina.