Rock Hall's Sailing Emporium offers amenities galore and smiling faces everywhere.

by Ann Levelle

I'd never been to Rock Hall, Md., before. It's not that I haven't tried to go, but since most of the cruising my husband John and I do is impromptu, we've never managed to find an open slip there. So this year we called early and booked a slip at the Sailing Emporium for the weekend before Memorial Day.

We had wonderful spring weather and a nice breeze that carried us up the Bay and around green "1" to get us inside the Swan Point Bar--where it promptly died. So, we started the motor and made our way around red "4", then followed a line of boats into the harbor. With dark clouds suddenly looming behind us, we cut through the center of the harbor and made straight for the Sailing Emporium, calling them on the VHF as we went.

As we backed into our slip--which seemed enormous--a marina dockhand and a neighboring slipholder helped us get situated. It was nice, I thought, to have helpful neighbors about. In fact, we soon noticed that there were slipholders everywhere, chatting with neighbors, working in their cockpits and even chasing toddlers down the dock. And every one of them had a friendly greeting for us.

We went in search of the office, heading across the immaculate grounds and past a band playing just steps from our dock. We found it in one of several large red buildings with creamy yellow columns. The office shares the first floor with the Hardware Chandlery and Cat's Paw Gift Shop, which between them sell everything from charts and oil filters to Chesapeake knickknacks and wine.

After a quick stop at the ultraclean, nautically decorated restrooms, we strolled around while we waited for the Rock Hall trolley to arrive. We took a look at the boats on the hard (Sailing Emporium is a full-service boatyard) and then found the large pool, the very large workshop building and the carriage house--which is a two-story building that houses the laundry on the first floor and a nice quiet reading lounge on the second. Its upper deck would be perfect for watching sunsets. We also found a picnic area, a bike rack with bikes for everyone to use, covered dinghy storage, a quiet gazebo and flowers everywhere. It's no wonder everyone we met was so happy. We even ran into one of John's clients, who told us the marina is a home away from home for its tenants, many of whom come from Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

The trolley soon arrived to take us into town for dinner. We were joined on the trip by another couple from the marina, and we all chatted as we rode. Now I know why Rock Hall's slips are so often booked--friendly faces and places can be hard to come by--and the Sailing Emporium definitely offers both.

Sailing Emporium
Rock Hall, Md.
Power: 30, 50 amp
Depth: 7'
Dockage: $2/ft plus $7 electric
Pump-out: free with slip

[08.07 issue]