WASHINGTON — Two hundred years ago this month, a dramatic naval battle was fought on the Patuxent River in Southern Maryland. And starting next week, you can take a boat cruise with a historian to the exact spot.
“Just the idea of … this huge British fleet, all these gigantic sails, to imagine that sailing up the Patuxent River, it’s just incredible,” says Sherrod Sturrock, deputy director of the Calvert Marine Museum.
The museum, about 60 miles south of D.C. in Calvert County, Maryland, is offering cruises on the bugeye Wm. B. Tennison to the scene of the Battle of St. Leonard Creek, which was part of the War of 1812.
It was the largest naval engagement to ever happen in Maryland, and the museum includes artifacts from the battle that were found on the bottom of the river.
The special evening cruises will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. on four Saturdays: June 14; July 19; Aug. 9; and Sept. 6.
You’ll be accompanied on your cruise by one of two War of 1812 experts and authors, Ralph Eshelman or Don Shomette.
Each cruise also includes a light dinner, and tickets are $50 per person. Click here for more information.
The museum is offering day-long lighthouse cruises of the Chesapeake Bay.
“Anyone who loves lighthouses anywhere, or likes being out on the water, would love this cruise,” Sturrock says. “It’s just the coolest thing, because instead of having to drive long distances, you can get in a charter boat and in the course of a day you can see all of southern lighthouses in the bay, or the northern.”
The Northern Cruise, on June 28 and Aug. 2, takes passengers near five lighthouses and includes a stop on Kent Island.
The Southern Cruise, on July 12 and Sept. 20, gets you close to four lighthouses and makes a stop on Smith Island. Tickets are $130 per person.
“There are no more manned lighthouses on the bay,” Sturrock says. “There are not that many lighthouses left — a number of them have been destroyed over the years — and so to be able to see those lighthouses that are still working or still there is just a real treat.”
You can get aboard the Wm. B. Tennison for a Father’s Day Brunch or Evening Cruise, a July 4 Fireworks Cruise, a Kids Pirate Pizza Cruise in September and a Monster Mash Cruise around Halloween. Prices vary. Get more information here.
Finally, the museum’s skipjack, the Dee of St. Mary’s, offers public sails on four Saturdays — June 7, July 26, Aug. 23 and Sept. 13 — at 2 p.m.
“If you step foot on the boat, we consider you as crew. So even if you’re coming out and you’re just going to sit and enjoy the sail, we’ll invite you to do things,” says Mindy Quinn, director of Chesapeake Bay Field Lab programs at the museum.
She says if you like, you can help raise and lower the sail, and even steer the boat, which is about 76 feet long.
The Calvert Marine Museum has more on the Dee of St. Mary’s tours.