To completely escape the tourists in Annapolis, you have to go to Eastport. Sorry -- the Maritime Republic of Eastport. In 1998, residents of the small peninsula between Spa Creek and Back Creek announced that they had seceded from the "snobbish" city of Annapolis. It's all in fun, of course, but Eastport, which is reached by crossing a long drawbridge over Spa Creek, is a neighborhood of marinas, crabbers, sailmakers and bungalows. There's nary a T-shirt shop in sight.
Dick Franyo, owner of the Boatyard Bar and Grill, embodies the spirit of Eastport. The former investment banker gave up his career to follow his dream and open a hangout for fellow maritime enthusiasts.
Just a block from Spa Creek and the Annapolis Yacht Club, it's natural that Boatyard has a nautical theme -- almost every inch of wall space is covered with photographs, racing banners, and a roll call of names of Annapolis clubs and boat firms. But the high, sloping ceilings and skylights make Boatyard feel as spacious as a luxury liner.
Most of the patrons seemed to be late thirties and up, sporting polo shirts, khaki shorts and loafers, although a younger crowd was drifting in for the night's band. As we settled in at the curving, sailboat-shaped bar, I turned to a friend and said, "Do you feel like the only ones here who don't own a boat?" Sure enough, the folks on the other side of us were talking about their watercraft.
A bartender said the bar's specialty was "pint drinks." All beverages, whether Otter Creek beers or Mount Gay aged rums, are served in pint glasses (the better to wash down the extra-spicy jerk chicken). For a snack, try the lump blue crab dip with Parmesan cheese, artichoke hearts, spinach and onions.
Live music is featured every Thursday, mostly acoustic duos performing covers and a few originals.
Given its proximity to the water, Boatyard has become a popular spot for boat owners who compete in the Yacht Club's weekly Wednesday Night Races along Spa Creek. After the mad dash to the finish line near the Spa Creek Bridge, sailors retire to the bar for a rum and tonic -- and watch the races again. Representatives from Boatyard videotape the action, and replay it for the assembled masses.
-- Fritz Hahn (May 30, 2003)