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Just like eating on the patio, but it's on Chesapeake Bay

It's hard to picture it," said Lona Harris of the summertime seafood feasts offered aboard her 46-foot bay-built boat.

Harris, who co-owns the Grab-a-Crab Charter Co., said one customer accurately described the onboard atmosphere when he "joked that it was just like his patio, but on the water."

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And in the hot summer months, when the ubiquitous smell of Old Bay and steaming seafood fills the Chesapeake air, hundreds of Marylanders come calling for a cruise, Harris said. They're eager to take a lunch or dinner trip on My Allie-Buy, the company's custom-built touring charter, she said.

Between the crab-feast tours and its standard fishing expeditions, the business stays busy nearly every summer day.

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"In prime season, we run anywhere from 30 to 45 [trips] a month," Harris said.

Captained by Harris' husband and partner, Danny, the cruises depart from the docks of another family business, Harris Crab House in Kent Narrows. The popular waterfront restaurant, which is owned and operated by Danny's relatives, is the food supplier for the four-hour smorgasbords of maritime munchies.

But the dining spot's famously large, ruddy crustaceans aren't the only seafood delicacy on the menu. Once onboard, feasters are treated to heaping mounds of crab dip, steamed shrimp and corn on the cob. Chocolate chip cookies are served for dessert. The only thing supplied by the customers is the beer, Harris said.

The food is reason enough to book a trip, but it can't compete with the one-of-a kind, swashbuckling fun provided by her husband. The former oysterman's jokes and antics have kept the customers coming back since 1996, she said.

"Danny's an entertainer," Harris said of her waterman husband. "My mother says I married him because he makes me laugh."

The Grab-a-Crab Charter Co. offers crab-feast tours through mid-October. To book an outing, call Lona Harris at 410-758-1837. Trips are four hours long and can be scheduled for 11 a.m. or 5 p.m. Each crab feast trip can accommodate up to 22 people. The cost is $75 per person and there is a $700 minimum. The trips depart from Harris Crab House, at 433 Kent Narrows Way North, Grasonville.


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