Behind the tiller of a 32-foot cruiser, up-and-coming captains in the one-day introductory course need not have earned their sea legs before boarding. The rugged Island Packet yachts launch for this class throughout the summer, and the Coast Guard–licensed instructors provide pupils a taste of more long-term advanced classes, as well as soundproof earmuffs in case of siren encounters. Pack a lunch for this aquatically edifying adventure, and prepare to grasp the gunwale as you marvel at Chesapeake Bay's captivating, encapsulating horizons.
Under the steady hand of Coast Guard-licensed captain Larry Vazzano, the Wharf Rat slices through the blue waters of Chesapeake Bay. The intimate vessel's sails harness the breeze, turning this way and that above the heads of passengers to find the best angle to the wind. Its decks bustle with activity of guests helping prepare sails or taking the helm as well as relaxed onlookers enjoying the unique view. Meanwhile, viewed from the cockpit dining table, the sun reaches its zenith and glitters off the peaks of waves, or dips slowly behind the forested shoreline, dyeing the whole world in orange, red, and purple.
Captain Larry loves this experience––the Atlantic Sailing Experience, as he calls it––so much that he's shared it with over 600 guests. In addition to his nautical know-how, he shows off his prowess at the grill for brunch and dinner, churning out tasty barbecue and vegetable sides from his own garden. Of course, he doesn't just sail and eat. He also charters his ship for exciting sailboat races and the occasional voyage to the end of the Earth.
Compass Pointe Golf Courses—voted Baltimore's best public course in 2008 by Baltimore magazine—and Eisenhower Golf Course challenge golfers to put their games to the test. At Compass Pointe, club wielders can athletically traipse or drive across one of two 18-hole courses, where 800 acres of Maryland woodland scenically backdrop time-honored struggles for par. At Eisenhower, cup seekers can negotiate numerous creeks, swales, and federal highways over 18 beautifully manicured holes, pausing only to admire the forest landscape and repeat the word "bogey" until it loses all meaning.
When it comes to seafood preparation, its seems like the culinary minds at Fifer’s Seafood have thought of just about everything. Every cooking method is fair game—broiling, deep-frying, steaming, and serving it up raw—as long as it enhances the natural sweetness and subtle flavor of each ingredient. They pile platters to the rafters with hand-peeled shrimp, flaky filets of haddock, and quarter-pound crab cakes, and they shuck fresh oysters and clams to pair with classic accoutrements and a squirt of lemon. Seafood even adds an extra punch to some of Fifer’s other options, such as Angus beef burgers crowned with housemade crab dip.
To complement these maritime feasts, bartenders serve pours of liquor and wine behind a tiki-style bar, which also features more than 15 beers on tap. Drinks in hand, diners gather around the dining room’s solid-oak tables, which are surrounded by aquatic décor and high-definition televisions broadcasting sports.
Though it has only been open since February 2013, Firehouse Pub has already established itself as a place with its own traditions. Free plays on the jukebox ring throughout the bar every Monday; on Wednesday and Friday, karaoke brings in the dulcet tones of patrons belting out their favorite songs. Each Thursday, corner pockets consume stripes and solids during free pool games in the billiards corner, where hanging flat-screen TVs keep players abreast of the latest sports and competitive woodworking coverage. The same goes for the TVs hanging above the bar, where bartenders pour wine, mixed drinks, shots, and domestic and imported beers. The rest of the time, Firehouse Pub welcomes an ever-changing lineup of live DJs and musicians to its main stage.