The Maritime Republic of Eastport, Maryland
We all know about Annapolis, Maryland. Great restaurants, unique shops, the Naval Academy, and sailboats everywhere…after all, Annapolis is considered America’s Sailing Capital. Spa Creek is one of the borders of Annapolis and on the other side is the community of Eastport. A bustling part of Annapolis today, but 20 years ago Eastport was more of an after thought. There were only a couple of watering holes with Davis Pub and Marmadukes being most poplar. Today Marmadukes has been replaced by Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse while Davis Pub remains true to its’ roots.
Eastport is all about being on the water. The peninsula is surrounded on three sides by water. The farming community began to give way to streets and houses began to spring up in the 1800’s. The streets led to easier access for the watermen to the creeks. As the maritime industry began to grow, boat builders and sail makers moved to Eastport and sailors followed. Where the Charthouse Restaurant sits is the former site where the iconic Trumpy boats were built. In 1925, Trumpy built the Sequoia at the Camden, New Jersey yard, which would later serve as the Presidential yacht between 1933 and 1977. In 1947 the Trumpy yard was relocated to Eastport.
In 1998, the Maryland State Highway Administration temporarily shutdown the bridge from Annapolis to Eastport for needed repairs. Instead of whining about the loss of traffic and customers, a few of the locals got together over a few beers and formed the Maritime Republic of Eastport. The day the bridge was officially closed, the MRE had enlisted a few hundred reenactors complete with artillery and fired on Annapolis. The group then retreated to Leon’s barbershop where officials of MRE were elected and more beer was consumed. We are proud to be charter members of the MRE as “Ambassadors to the Commonwealth”.
The MRE flag features two retrievers, a heron and a crab. They continue to sponsor many fundraisers, including the highly anticipated “Slaughter Across the Water,” an annual tug of war pitting Eastport groups against the folks across Spa Creek. The MRE also began the annual burning of the socks to celebrate the spring equinox and begins the sailing season.
“We like it this way” is our motto. And we do. The goal was to foster a spirit of independence and merriment in a manner befitting the character of Eastport and at the same time, to celebrate Eastport’s proud heritage and quality of life. To learn more about the MRE, go to their website at www.themre.org. These creative folks took what might have been a huge disaster and turned it into an economic boom, and they are still active today.
We spent the night at a friends condo on Spa Creek but there are some very cute B&B’s in Eastport as well as the big chain hotels the likes of Marriot, etc. in Annapolis that are willing to provide you with shelter. While Eastport is only 45 minutes away from Old Town Alexandria, staying overnight gave us the opportunity to experience some nightlife without having to consider a drive back to Alexandria after our adult beverage consumption. This is the way to do it! You don’t get the whole Eastport experience in just a day trip.
We started out at one of the oldest or maybe even “the” oldest bars in Eastport/Annapolis – the infamous Davis Pub. We usually order a crab cake sandwich here but opted for the steamed shrimp “Balmore” style along with an ice cold Natty Bo. (see photo) This was probably the best thing that has come down the pike in a long time. This is a must stop during your trip since you get to rub elbows with the locals – they are a very colorful bunch!
We then met up with old friends at the Eastport Yacht Club just to catch up. One of those friends was Kevin Brooks of Eastport Oyster Boy fame and major MRE proponent and citizen. Was great to see him and get the latest news about Eastport’s premier band. We have featured them in our Bay section several times over the years. If you have a chance to see them perform while you are there, do it.
We rounded out our evening with appetizers and cocktails at the newest place in town, the Blackwall Hitch. This is the forerunner to the Blackwall Hitch that will soon open in the old Torpedo Factory Food Pavilion space. Two of the band members from a local favorite “The Cheaters” entertained the crowd with a great range of music. The kind that makes you want to dance….and we did. Be sure to make this a stop.
The trip to the MRE wouldn’t be complete without a night cap at the Boatyard Bar & Grill. This is the place in town where you can meet up and “relax with local sailors, fisherman and all lovers of the Chesapeake”!
There are also other things to see and do besides eat and drink. They have a very fun market and café in the Leeward Market, the Annapolis Maritime Museum is located in Eastport as well as the Annapolis Maritime Antique store. There are small art galleries, and other fabulous restaurants to frequent but we only had so much time. You will note we didn’t provide street addresses since you can pretty much figure it all out once you are in Eastport. All it takes is a drive across the Spa Creek Bridge from Annapolis. That and the fact that everyone has that handy GPS or the MapQuest app on your iPhone.
Make a Road Trip to the MRE a priority this year!
Written by: Bob Tagert & Lani Gering