The Legendary Crab Feast at the Washington Canoe Club
OK, this is an opportunity to have a great time at one of the iconic places in paddling history. Folks have been paddling canoes at the Washington Canoe Club (WCC) since before Chuck was a twinkle in his daddy's eye. And when those paddlers were not on the water, they were a legendary bunch of fun-lovers. (Legend has it that, during the Prohibition years, resupply boats pulled up to the boathouse docks on a regular basis.) For years, two of the traditional social events have been the Canoe Club's Oyster Roast, and the Crab Feast. These are public events, so if you haven't been here before, it is a great time to come and check the place out. If you have been here before, you know that these events are a great chance to come on down for some great food, great beer, lots of paddlers, and the prettiest view in all of Washington, DC.
The Washington Canoe Club is located on the Georgetown waterfront on the Potomac River, just upstream of the Key Bridge. WCC was founded in 1904 by paddlers from Potomac Boat Club, which is located 100 meters down stream (right next door to Jack's Boathouse, aka, the Key Bridge Boathouse). WCC has placed athletes on almost every Canoe/Kayak Olympic Team since 1924, when Flatwater Sprint Canoeing was introduced as a demonstration sport, and has produced several Olympic medal winners.
A light jacket for the evening is probably a really good idea.
Once you arrive at the boathouse, you can check in at a table that will be set up in front of the boathouse. Hopefully, you will be pre-registered online, which will make this very quick and easy. (And it helps us plan for how much food we need!) The official start time is 1 pm, but if you arrive a bit early, the first kegs should be ready to roll by around noon. As some of you know from past events, there is always way more food that you can eat, and way more beer than you can drink. Yeah, OK, wine too. There will be lots of those wonderful Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs, of course, and if you have never shucked fresh crabs, trust that there will be plenty of folks who can get you started. There will also be hot dogs, hamburgers, salads, and a variety of other stuff to entertain your palate. It is likely that the kegs will come from Port City Brewery in Alexandria; they provided the beer at January's Oyster Roast, and it was very well-received. Their Dark Porter Ale was especially nice, hopefully that one will be back for an encore. Whatever the brew, trust that it will not run out.
As the day winds down, there is no better place to enjoy the late afternoon and evening than down on the docks. Officially, the event runs from 1-4 pm, but the Club does not have any bouncers, so feel free to stick around afterwards and help with the kegs. Sunsets, in particular, are spectacular here, and are well worth the trip. As you watch the sunset from the Canoe Club docks, the sun sets over the river to your right, lighting up a mile of the river, along with the Three Sisters Islands. At the same time, Key Bridge, on your left, picks up the colors of the sunset, so you have evening color in each direction. It really can be quite spectacular, and is a scene that never ceases to impress. There really is no prettier place in all of Washington D.C. to enjoy a sunset, than sitting in an Adirondack chair on the dock, with a glass of wine in one hand, some munchies in the other hand, and friends all around you. The Canoe Club has about 8-10 Adirondack chairs that can go down on the docks. There is also plenty of room at the picnic tables up above the docks, by the boathouse. We also have a bunch of folding chairs that we can break out if needed, but the smart move is to grab one of the Adirondack chairs early!
There is always plenty of room at the picnic tables next to the boathouse . . .
. . . and at sunset, there is no better spot than one of the Adirondack chairs down on the dock!
And, after sunset, it is hard to image a nicer place to share a glass of wine with friends on a Summer night:
The Friends of the Washington Canoe Club has a payment link where you can log in and pay online for this event. The link is: http://www.friendsofwcc.org/dues/ , that link will take you to a page that begins with payment options for club dues. Scroll down the the bottom, and you will see the payment link for the Crab Feast. The event is $30 for adults, $10 for kids, and $60 max for families. Basically, if mom and dad come, the kids are free. This really is a great family place, but please do think about PFD's on any younger kids who might go down on the docks.
Directions to the Washington Canoe Club:
Note: GPS will usually get you down to Water Street OK, but since Water Street runs underneath the Whitehurst Freeway, it often goes crazy for the last half mile or so.
From DC, take K Street North to Georgetown. As K Street reaches Georgetown, it becomes Water Street, and follows along the Georgetown waterfront. Just keep going to the very end -- Water Street dead ends at an old stone archway where the road is closed by two steel gates. (Pedestrians and bikes can go right on through between the gates.) About 50 yards past the gates, you will see a big green building behind a chain link fence; that's the Canoe Club, come on in!
From Maryland (Bethesda area), take Canal South to M St, and continue on M St. until you get to Wisconsin. Turn right on Wisconsin, and take it to the bottom of the hill (about 1/4 mile) where Wisconsin ends at Water Street. Turn right on Water Street, and take it about 3/4 mile where the street will end underneath an old stone archway where the road is closed by two steel gates. (Pedestrians and bikes can go right on through between the gates.) About 50 yards past the gates, you will see a big green building behind a chain link fence; that's the Canoe Club, come on in!
From Virginia: Cross the river over the Key Bridge into DC. On the DC side, make an immediate right turn on M Street. Take M Street to Wisconsin Avenue, where you will turn right. Take Wisconsin to the bottom of the hill (about 1/4 mile) where Wisconsin ends at Water Street. Turn right on Water Street, and take it about 3/4 mile where the street will end underneath an old stone archway where the road is closed by two steel gates. (Pedestrians and bikes can go right on through between the gates.) About 50 yards past the gates, you will see a big green building behind a chain link fence; that's the Canoe Club, come on in!
The Park Service installed the gate on Water Street (the one under the stone archway) last June. This is where the road ends, about 50 yards before you get to the Canoe Club. This gate is designed to allow pedestrians and bicycles to pass through, but it blocks vehicular access.
It is summertime on the Georgetown waterfront, so parking can be a bit competitive, but it usually works out pretty well. The midday start for this even helps a lot, since the Crab Feast will get started about the time most of the early morning rowers are leaving, which will free up some space. So here are the parking options:
1. Free parking is available just outside the stone archway at road's end. There is room for about 25-30 cars on the dry side (the side away from the river) right across from Key Bridge Boathouse. If you see one, grab it.
2. Secret free parking: Just before you get to Key Bridge Boathouse, there is a really ugly, beige, concrete-block building on the dry side of the road. There is space for about 8-10 cars in front of that building. Unfortunately, there are signs posted all along the front of the building saying "parking for government vehicles only," or words to that effect. The good news is that, while there is only one tiny sign that says so, these spaces are only restricted during the week, during working hours.
3. Local paid parking: There is a lot of metered parking along Water Street, and there are several parking garages along the way. You might find meter space fairly close by, but be advised that DC meters are expensive, and enforcement is heartless. (I think the tickets are still $25.) The parking garages are pretty reasonable on weekends, but you might have to walk a couple of blocks.