Road Trip

Pirates Invading a Maryland Fishing Town

Sunday, August 3, 2008

WHERE: Rock Hall, Md.

WHY: Pirate parties, lumpy crab cakes and shore things.

HOW FAR: About three miles from start to finish, and about 90 miles from Washington.

You don't need a treasure map to discover Rock Hall (it's on the Chesapeake Bay), but that doesn't make it any less of a find. Most days, the Maryland fishing town is a laid-back, natural getaway steeped in bay history and culture, bird-watching and kayaking. Starting Saturday, however, the town will stir up the waters with the Pirates and Wenches Fantasy Weekend.

The two-day party celebrates Rock Hall's 301st birthday, though despite the theme, pirates weren't active players in the town's history. That honor goes to the watermen. In the 1700s, Rock Hall established itself as an important tobacco port and by the 1800s was one of the busiest fishing outposts on the bay. Commercial fishing still is done on a smaller scale, but the main business today is tourism. During the summer, visitors cruise in from land and sea to eat dockside, go fishing or soak up Chesapeake culture in three bay-centric museums.

To fit in this weekend, swap your Sperry docksiders for a peg leg. Costumes are strongly encouraged, and don't worry about standing out: Pirate reenactors and sea chantey singers will be appearing around town. The event starts with a Cast-Off Party at the Harbor Shack Waterfront Bar & Grill, followed by a decorated dinghy flotilla and race. On Sunday, families can search for booty in a treasure hunt or collect some at the pirate pet and children's costume contest. The same day, the Fearless, a buccaneer-style ship, will take guests on one-hour sails from Sharp Street Pier. Children are invited onboard, but you might want to leave the parrot at home.

-- Ben Chapman

Rock Hall's Pirates and Wenches Fantasy Weekend: Saturday, noon-midnight; Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Various locations in Rock Hall. For a schedule and information, call 410-935-3491 or visit Admission varies; some events are free.

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