Pocomoke Sound and the Entrance to the Pocomoke River
|I have sailed into Pocomoke Sound and up the Pocomoke River only twice in the more than 40 years I have been sailing the bay. The infrequency of visits should not be interpreted as a negative reflection on the beauty to be found on these bodies of water. Rather it is the reflection of how remote the Pocomoke is from the major sailing centers, which makes it difficult and time consuming to visit.|
|From the Patuxent River I would sail south
to Kedges Strait, through the strait into Tangier Sound and south down the
sound past Tangier Island around the bottom of Watts Island and then north up
into the Pocomoke. At this point I would have had to cover in excess of
60nm. Seldom are the winds favorable for all legs of this trip, such that
darkness would be setting well before I could enter the man-made channel from
the Pocomoke Sound into the Pocomoke River. In the river you must anchor
near one shore or the other, and it is difficult to find a suitable spot in the
dark (as we would prove on one trip). Tug boats ply the river all the way
to Pocomoke City, day and night. So it is advisable to anchor as close to
shore as possible and use a shore line or second anchor to restrict your
On my first visit to the Pocomoke, in 1979 we stopped first in Crisfield for the night. Shortly after dawn the next day we used the Broad Creek cut from the Little Annemessex River to Pocomoke Sound. This is a dredged cut used primarily by Watermen and maintained to a published depth of only 3'. In 1979 we took two Columbia 8.7's, which draw nearly 5', through the cut at mid tide. At that time we saw a few spots where the depth sounder showed 5'. The rest of the time we had depths around 7'. Even with this cut we had a run of over 10 nm from where we entered the Pocomoke Sound to the first mark of the man-made channel into the Pocomoke River.
|Initially the River shoreline was a low-lying marsh, but soon we were into one of the northern-most Cypress Forests in N. America.||
Shoreline Near the Mouth of the Pocomoke River
Goombay and Vela Llena Rafted and Motoring Up the Pococmoke River
|The river passage was so gentle, we rafted our two Columbia 8.7's together while proceeding upstream. I locked my tiller amidships and let John and Christy steer all the way to Pocomoke City. Most of the trip we appeared to be traveling through a wilderness area. Every once in a while around a bend we would come upon a farm, and then we would disappear again back into the cypress forest.|
|Large Cypress Trees such as this lined the banks of the river.||
Cypress Tree on the Pocomoke River
Black Water on the Pocomoke
|As we proceeded upstream through the cypress forest the water became black from the cypress bark.|
|That day we traveled all the way to Pocomoke City. A few miles below the city we found a little bight in the shoreline were we could anchor out of the channel. I took a line ashore and tied it to one of the large cypress knees. This kept our raft from swinging out into the channel during the night.||
Tieing Off the Raft to a Tree on the Shore
Photo by Christie McGue
about two miles short of Pocomoke City because there was a large plywood
processing plant near the town, which looked like it operated day and night.
Where we anchored there was no evidence of close by civilization, neither
visual nor audible.
The next day we took the dinghies and explored the river above the 35' fixed bridge at Pocomoke City. We got as far as the Shad Landing State Park, and then turned back as it started to rain and turned cold.
Because of the great distance that must be traveled to clear the Pocomoke Sound we decided to move our boats near the mouth of the River that afternoon. Still rafted together we proceeded down stream to Shelltown where we found what we thought was a good anchor spot. Because it was nearly dark we elected to not take a line ashore or set a second anchor to limit our swinging room. After all it was dark and surely the tugs don't ply this river at night. Shortly after dinner, I was cleaning dishes when I heard a freight train close by. I didn't think there was rail line anywhere near, so I stuck my head out the hatch to see that we had swung out into the center of the channel and a tug boat with three barges in tow had managed to maneuver by us. Dumb luck is usually the best kind.
Leaving the Pocomoke River Through the Man-Made Channel
|The next day we broke up the raft for the first time in nearly 48 hours and headed separately out of the Pocomoke River, through the man-made cut (picture on the left) and into Pocomoke Sound. We were heading in separate directions, John and Christy toward Norfolk and the ICW - I back to the Patuxent River. I elected not to use the Broad Creek cut back to Crisfield as we were on a falling tide and I didn't want to take the risk that those 5' shoals I passed over two days ago would now be 4' shoals.|
|So I joined John and Christy on the long trip down Pocomoke Sound to clear Watts Island and then head back up Tangier Sound. There was a moderate breeze of about 12-15 kts out of the SSW which was pretty much on our nose and it quickly built up a steep chop of 3-4' on the shallow sound. It took us nearly 8 miserable hours to clear Watts Island, at which point we decided to put into Tangier Island for the night. Pocomoke Sound is no fun with a fresh S-SW breeze.|