Picture yourself on a long veranda overlooking the sea . You’re sharing an unhurried glass of conversation with a dear friend as a gentle breeze of lilac scent and sailboats with colorful spinnakers sweep past. Such is the quiet charm of Oxford.
This quaint seaside town, established in 1683 is one of the oldest towns in Maryland. Once known as the sister town to Anne Arundel (now Annapolis) Oxford served as one of only two ports of entry until the time of the American Revolution. Boasting a population of 600 in 2017, this little seaport was by far one of my favorites.
We rented bicycles and bounced along cottage-lined streets with houses baring names, flower-bedecked porches, and a never-ending ribbon of seaside. Along the dock we met with seamen preparing for a day of crab fishing. One of the pictures below is that of a seaman explaining the crabbing process, "We place oysters in netted pouches tied to long lines, see that's what I'm doin' now" he said as he spread his hands to reveal the knife, oyster and little net. "We then lay the lines in the water and the crabs grab hold of the oyster." He shook his head as if tisk-tisking the stupidity of such a thing and said, "little suckers will hold on for days!" Still shaking his head, he went on, "when we pull in the line, the crabs dangle like a string of Christmas lights. And... Crab fest!"
Oxfords small-town feel boasts one small grocery store, one gift shop, three restaurants, and three churches. We chose to eat at the Robert Morris Inn, because of its historic claim of being the oldest full-service Inn in America. It was easy to envision the Inn 300 years ago when first built, as it remained largely aesthetically original. I thought it exciting that we dined where George Washington once broke bread, and Tad was thrilled that author James Michener outlined his famous novel, Chesapeake (which he is currently reading) while staying at the Inn. We enjoyed a delicious meal over soft white tablecloth and dancing candlelight.
Directly across from the inn is the landing for the Oxford/Bellevue Ferry which crosses the Tred Avon River. To most, it's probably not a bit deal, but to someone who lives on an island and endures a daily ferry commute with hundreds (during tourist season it feels like thousands) of other commuters, this ferry brought a smile to my face. A nine-car maximum - unbelievable!
Established in 1683, the Oxford/Bellevue Ferry is believed to be the oldest running private ferry service in the US.
Close to the marina where we moored was Cutts & Case Shipyard, one of the few remaining shipbuilders of large wooden builders. Jon Wilson of Wooden Boat Magazine wrote in his great editorial on the shipyard, "...when I told him I was a small-boat builder in search of kindred souls, he smiled (tolerantly) and welcomed me in."
Such was our experience when we peeked inside and were spotted by an artisan working high on a ladder. "Feel free to walk around the workshop and shipyard" he said, and then continued with his finishing of a teak railing. We thanked him, awed the vessels and chatted with workers in the shipyard who shared with us the history of the unique Cutts and Case design. What a treat it was to be a welcome guest of such a historic enterprise!
There are multiple marina choices. We stayed at the Oxford Boat Yard and Marina. Because it was Labor Day weekend and we didn't make a reservation, they offered us to dock in the Boat Yard area. Although technically, it was the "working" area, it was still very nice, and.... it was next to the local home-made ice cream creamery, so how bad can it be? Marina staff were helpful and friendly. The amenities, fuel, pump out, water, repair, Wi-Fi, fitness rooms, and bike rental) were great.
A definite place to visit again!
Oxford Boat Yard and Marina We were housed in the Boat Yard area but it was still very nice and goodness, near the local ice cream creamery, so how bad can it be? Staff were helpful and great amenities. They also loaned us two bicycle for the entire two-day!