Maiden Voyage In Ocean City, Maryland
Launching A Boat In Ocean City, Maryland
Saturday morning at 8:30am we arrived at the West Ocean City Boat Ramp at the corner of Golf Course Rd and Sunset Ave. The ramp was quiet with just two other boats launching during the time we were there (ramp capable of handling 6 trailers at a time). Prior to the launch, we fueled up at the Royal Farms near by and loaded up some ice just in case we pull one over the rail. The public ramp is very nice and everything went smooth, didn’t even fire it up. Just slid it off the roller trailer and tied up along the ramp so we could load the remaining provisions and park the truck and trailer.
Fired up the Evinrude 150hp G2, turned on the electronics and down the harbor we went. We were forewarned about the sand bars in the back bay but never expected the abrupt depth changes. Most of the waters around Sunset Marina, the inlet and 50 bridge were marked with a speed limit of 6 mph and quiet honestly, I wouldn’t want to go any faster after watching my Lowrance Elite-5 Sonar. We navigated the buoys of the channel headed toward the Isle of Wight Bay. Over the radio we heard some communication regarding buoys being off course in the channel; queue the addition caution level. At about 8th street in OCMD, we turned NW to head toward the next buoy but in just a few moments we brazed the top of a sand bar. It appeared out of nowhere on the sonar; from 10ft of depth to 2ft. With a quick trim and a few seconds of float we were back in 7ft. Since we only saw a random skiff passing by, we decided to just to stay in the area until we could acquire some further insights in passing through the bay. It wasn’t until after the day was over that we got a helpful tip from a local regarding Google Map imagery. Although the sand bars shift, this image below provides a helpful aerial view of the passable areas. Also note the Thorfare. This is flounder grounds and was a consistent term used on the radio.
Water temps were 49 to 50 degrees in the bay and the air temperature wasn’t much warmer. We set the anchor a few times, spending about an hour at each location tossing in bucktails with 4″ Gulp just for fun. While sitting we heard a 33ft Grady stuck on a sand bar and continued notifications regarding buoys out of the channel.
Sunset Marina In Ocean City, Maryland
At 3:30pm we called it a day and headed into Sunset Marina. The marina is very clean and home to the largest charter fleet in the area. It certainly is humbling driving past 50ft sport yachts. Regardless of my boat, the marina folks were extremely friendly, courteous and helpful in answering questions. For the boatel customers, they have separate docs to tie up and walk off. A simple call to the marina office once done for the day and a boat yard employee drives the boat over to the lift area. Once in the air, they do a quick rinse of the bottom (for an additional $5 they will flush the motor) and up into the rack it goes.
We grabbed a few drinks of at Teasers, a nice outside bar in the marina, to discuss our findings of the day. Looking at the weather for Sunday, we also prepared for tomorrow’s day in the ocean.
Helpful First Time Boating Tips In Ocean City, Maryland
- Google Map the back bay waters of Ocean City, Maryland as this clearly shows the paths of boast and sand bars.
- Heading North parallel to Ocean City from the 50 bridge, 6th Street is your pivot point to then head NW.
- Most of the water ways around the inlet and 50 bridge are 6 mph speed limit.
- Set your VHF radio to Scan mode.
- Learn the local location names (i.e. Thorfare, Drum Island, Martha’s Landing)
- Keep your head on a swivel. We took the opportunity to learn while the crowds were not in town. I can only imagine how the water traffic will be in July.
- Keep your cell phone handy and download the Navionics App. We referenced this a few times as a second chart. The Lowrance was set to a close range view to see details while we used the phone app to see where we were on a broader perspective.
- Take it slow and learn the water ways.