Tiny Smith Island in the Chesapeake Bay is Maryland's last remaining offshore inhabited island, and the home of Maryland's state dessert, the magnificently multi-layered Smith Island Cake. So I got it in my head to sail there on our friend's boat and taste this baked extravaganza at the source. There are easier ways to do it (i.e., by ferry), but not as fun. It's a ten-hour sail from the town of Oxford, which is where the sailboat lives, and the folks at Smith Island Marina advised us to come on a rising tide to avoid getting stuck in sand. That meant sailing at night, which I love, and arriving at 2 a.m.
My family was up for the challenge, and our neighbor and his friend as well, so we set off on a warm Friday afternoon, after momentarily forgetting one of our teenagers on the dock. As we entered the bay, a trio of ospreys flew around the boat, and one of them landed on the mast and hitched a ride for a while, which we deemed a good sign. The kids grilled hamburgers on the barbecue cantilevered over the stern, and after dinner the stars came out and bioluminescent dinoflagellates sparkled in the waves as we zipped along. The kids were sleeping when we entered the channel and slowly motored through the hazards, using spotlights and flashlights to illuminate the navigational aids in the dark, tricky channel, and we tied up at the marina with relief.