The Chesapeake Bay is an estuary with a 64,299-square-mile drainage basin that covers parts of six states, including New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia. It’s big. In fact it’s so big that it’s the largest such body of water in the United States.
But for those of us lucky enough to live along the Chesapeake Bay, we know its significance goes far beyond just being a giant tub of water. I moved to Gloucester as a young child and have spent more than 40 years exploring and navigating these salt waters. And what’s so great about living along the Chesapeake Bay is that it offers you a variety of coastal landscapes, a bevy of unique waterside towns and cities, and as much or as little adventure as you want.
There’s always stuff to do. There’s always something different to see. From my neck of the woods on the Middle Peninsula you can take the day and boat down to Lynnhaven and spend a day at Virginia Beach. Or you can take an hour and trek over to Cape Charles or Deltaville, each small hub offering its own brand of southern charm and coastal experiences. You can have the complete beach experience and all the sights and sounds Virginia Beach has to offer or you can have a smaller, more intimate adventure.
No matter where you go, there’s always a ton of social things to do, whether it’s enjoying a local restaurant like Chick’s Oyster Bar and Surf Rider in Lynnhaven, Owens Marina Restaurant and Surf Rider in Poquoson, or visiting one of the myriad marinas such as York River Yacht Haven in Gloucester Point, Oyster Cove Boatworks in Gloucester, or Crown Point Marina in Hayes for a last fuel stop before going out to the bay.
Me, I’m partial to the York River. But then again that’s where I live, so I might be a little biased. I love the choices you get from my vantage point in Gloucester. You have your choice of restaurants and beaches along Yorktown and Williamsburg. There’s the history, the good food and the different landscapes from the cliffs cut from years of rugged waters in Yorktown to the smoother beaches created by time in Williamsburg.
One spot in particular, a little off the beaten path, holds a special meaning. Crawling down Sarah Creek along the Chesapeake Bay’s York River, you can see it. Bright and green. Channel Marker Nine. I don’t remember the first time I went there – there’s no memory that stands out in my mind of how we discovered it.
Growing up, I’ve just always known it. It’s just always been there. What’s so special about Marker Nine is that at low tide a secret beach emerges as the water drags itself into the bay. And the locals all gather for an afternoon on the exposed sandbar – laughing, eating, playing, fishing, swimming.
Marker Nine isn’t so much a place where you find comfort in the stillness and sunshine. It’s a fun, funky spot where people love to live life.
There’s always boats coming in and out of Sarah Creek. You can sit there and watch boat after boat, waving to people you know and the people you don’t know. You never know who you might meet. And yet it’s close to home.
But my family and I also like a little adventure, a little friendly nautical competition if you will. That’s why we’re big fans of the Harborfest Workboat Races in Norfolk as well as the workboat races in Poquoson and the workboat docking contest in Cape Charles.
When we’re feeling a little quieter, we trek over to New Point in Mathews County for a calm afternoon. And nothing beats the Fourth of July in Yorktown with the fireworks lighting up the York River.
No matter what the day holds, we want to be on the water. It’s about the smell of salt in the air. The breeze brushing the nape of your neck. It’s about being social, sharing an adventure, making a memory. And regardless of where you are on the Chesapeake Bay in the Old Dominion state, you can bet there’s great fishing or a chance to relax on a beach with the family.
It’s all about the environment. The scenery, the coastal vistas, the social aspects of it. That’s why I feel lucky to live along the Chesapeake Bay. There’s nothing else quite like it.
Marker Nine is a coastal lifestyle brand inspired by Channel Marker Nine in the Chesapeake Bay. A labor of love for co-founders Mike Silberhorn, Rudy Heinatz and Michele Harrison, the brand offers casual wear, including T-shirts and hoodies, that capture the fun and funky essence of its namesake. Check out Marker Nine to find comfortable clothes that will lead you to your next adventure on the Chesapeake Bay.