I hadn’t been docked at Goose Creek Marina off the Manokin River for 20 minutes before a nine-year old was showing me how to pick up a blue crab. I watched and listened with more appreciation than attention since this is a skill I never intend to exercise. The crab was a good-sized jimmy with an evil disposition, but Brooke Dannenfelser handled it with aplomb. She had netted him earlier off the docks and put him in the marina’s Hideaway Restaurant holding tank for somebody’s future delectation. I hoped it was mine. Brooke, I decided,
must live one of those Tom Sawyer lives we dream about, whiling away the long summer days around her family’s marina, nominally adopting visiting ducks (Aflac) and generally learning about the ways of nature the way we could only wish for.
Brooke’s father, Adam Dannenfelser, bought the marina and campground (67 slips and 13 camp sites) just outside the village of Rumbley, Md., 10 years ago after stumbling on it while in the area. He had worked on the water while he was going to college, majoring in education, and couldn’t stay away. He and his family spruced up the old marina and built the restaurant themselves.
Dannenfelser is the chief cook, but everyone in the family pitches in, including his parents. You won’t be surprised to learn that crab and crab- cakes are a speciality, but you may be surprised to learn how good they are. I thought they were merely great an hour later, as Skipper and I sat in the outside dining area next to a green-bottle tree, and I polished off a big Hide Away Grill crabcake sandwich. But then Dannenfelser brought out a bowl of his cream of crab soup, and that was . . . better than great!
But I forget myself. This is a marina story, not a restaurant review. Goose Creek Marina is located just inside the mouth of the Manokin River off Tangier Sound. The channel into Goose Creek is well marked (give green “1” a wide berth) and used primarily by watermen, who keep their boats well up the creek, which runs behind the tiny and utterly charming village of Rumbley. The marina is located between flashing red “4” and green daymark “5”. The water outside the channel is scary shallow, but along the straight and narrow I found 5 to 6 feet.
The marina itself is simple, with 30-amp service, water and restrooms, but no showers. Everything is spotless. And the food . . . did I mention the food? The Hide Away Grill is open Thursday through Sunday from 11 a.m. during the season, but closes in the winter. The marina, however, stays open, primarily to serve the watermen. There’s a 30-ton lift and general repairs available. And there’s plenty of room to stretch your legs along Rumbley Road.
Goose Creek Marina is not exactly on the way to any place. In fact, it’s about as remote as you can get, tucked into that flat and watery otherworld of Flatland Marsh between the Big Annemessex and Deal Island. (You’ll know at once what I mean if you’ve ever traveled this way.) It’s worth the side trip for any number of reasons: The eerie beauty of the landscape. The charm of the Dannenfelser family. The excellence of the cream of crab soup. And the value of learning how to pick up a big ugly crab.