A Travellerspoint blog

August a Big Gust

Gunkholing in the Chesapeake


View 2004 Peripetic Summer on greatgrandmaR's travel map.

Gunkholing in the Chesapeake
Second Section Activities
August 7-9 Boat trip across the Bay continued
August 18 - Dental visit
September 3 - Aunt Eleanor's funeral

There is a rhyme about the timing of hurricanes in the hurricane season. The majority of hurricanes are in August and September
June - Too Soon (first month)
July - Standby
August - A Big Gust
September - Remember
October - It's over ?
November- The Ender
(the last month)

As I said at the beginning of this section, hurricanes had kept us in port up to the beginning of August.

Bob at the wheel

Bob at the wheel


We are coming into Tangier. Tangier is really a cluster of marshy islands in the Chesapeake Bay about fifteen miles from the Eastern Shore. Tangier has been eroding away for years. The island now is only about a mile wide by three miles long. The land is flat and marshy with the highest point on the island at about seven feet above sea level. Island residents are clustered in three communities known as "ridges". The waterline of Tangier is very low lying and marshy and the edges of it are exposed at high tide.
Planes over the airport

Planes over the airport

07-1313.jpgComing around into the channel

Coming around into the channel


There are two entrances to Tangier harbor - the Chesapeake Bay side (west) and the Tangier Sound side (east). The Chesapeake Bay side has the deeper and more reliable channel. Unfortunately, there used to be a low power line across the channel which meant that most sailboats could not use it. But the overhead power line has been put underground, so it isn't an overhead hazard anymore.

[Don't anchor in the channel - - If you cut the power line everyone on the island will be mad at you.]
RosalieAnn at Parks marina

RosalieAnn at Parks marina


We yell across to the dockmaster at Parks who is on one of the other boats (they don't answer the radio any more than the marina in Reedville does), and she puts us alongside of the little house with the bathrooms. This is perfect for us, as I don't have to climb over the lifelines. Also we are not aground at low tide as I think we would be if we were in a slip.
Parks marina bathrooms

Parks marina bathrooms


The marina is not fancy, but the charge for a boat over about 35 feet is only $25.00.

We have come 16.9 nm at an average speed of 4.4 knots.

Tangier Island was visited in 1608 by Captain John Smith, who gave it the name. A part of the island was patented by Ambrose White in 1670. It was settled in 1686 by John Crockett and his son's families. In 1814, it was the headquarters of a British Fleet ravaging the Chesapeake Bay. From here the fleet sailed to attack Fort McHenry. Tangier Island has been mostly isolated from the mainland for many years and the men have made their living from the water. Now, most of their business is crabbing, particularly soft crabs.

There is a mail boat that comes each day from Crisfield, and there are now tourists that come on ferries from Crisfield, Reedville and Onancock in the summer and hunters that come in the fall and winter. In the summer people come on their own boats, and some come in their own planes. The island women do a considerable business housing and feeding the tourists.

There's a boat up at the other end of the marina which is across the ends of the slips up there. We find out later that this is a common practice.
Parks Marina with boat across the end of slips

Parks Marina with boat across the end of slips

1610527-Cat_on_the_docks_Tangier_Island.jpg
Bob petting the cat on the docks

Bob petting the cat on the docks

Curious cat

Curious cat


597096111610533-Happy_cat_on..ier_Island.jpgMarina cat lying next to Bob in the cockpit

Marina cat lying next to Bob in the cockpit


I decided that we should have lunch in town,
"Billboards" advertising restaurants

"Billboards" advertising restaurants


so we walked up to FIsherman's Corner
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Fisherman's Corner Cat

Fisherman's Corner Cat

100_0652-001.jpgFisherman's Corner

Fisherman's Corner

specials board

specials board


and we both had
n100_0596.JPGTangier crab soup and apple pan dowdy

Tangier crab soup and apple pan dowdy


The apple pan dowdy turned out to be apples and granola and ice cream in a tall glass. I used the bathroom, and took my picture in the bathroom mirror. There are crabs stenciled all over the walls.
Me taking my picture

Me taking my picture


These are the trashcans that they have on Tangier. It took me a couple of seconds to realize that this nice lighthouse model was really a trash can. I was even more surprised to see one out on the marshlands. There are a lot of trashcans around, and the island is very clean.
Lighthouse trash can

Lighthouse trash can


Then we walked out in town, past the recipe fence. If you want the recipe for some of the local dishes, you find it on this fence, take it out of the bag and put money in to pay for it. You get 10 for $1.00
Recipe Fence

Recipe Fence


Cat silhouette on the railing

Cat silhouette on the railing


(I bought a map from a box on a fence for $1.00) and got a tour on a golf cart tour vehicle for $4.00 each. Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of the actual multi-passenger golf cart. While you can undoubtedly walk all around the island (there are only two roads lengthwise and it is impossible to get lost), it is relatively cheap to do the tour, and you get the information about the island that you might not otherwise get or think to get. The two streets are Main Street, and Ridge. Ridge is on a ridge which is about 5 feet higher than Main Street. In between Main and Ridge is a swampy area crossed by four bridges.These are the photos I took on the tour.
Lane between houses

Lane between houses


Bike rental sign

Bike rental sign


This sign advertises bike rentals by the day, overnight or by the week - Best Deals in town. The guy that we met that was staying at the Chesapeake House had two boys who were having a really good time riding their bikes. I also saw some tourists riding bikes, and of course there were islanders who rode bikes. There was a bike rack in the graveyard next to the church.
marshland

marshland


Water Tower and trash can

Water Tower and trash can


School House Bridge

School House Bridge


Tangier All Age School

Tangier All Age School


This is the only school on Tangier and it teaches all grades through high school. Our tour guide said that the high school graduated 6 students in June. She added the most of the teachers were 'from' Tangier..
water between Ridge and Main

water between Ridge and Main


Probably not a problem for visitors, but this IS an island and subject to storms. Hurricane Isabel wiped out a lot of the docks - many of the docks you see in town that look new ARE new, as they've been rebuilt since October 2003. Subsequent hurricanes have also led to significant floods. The school had to be raised up above the floor level where it is in the photo. Mr. Parks said that his house was already high enough.
Sign at Wanda's

Sign at Wanda's


Wanda's is a gift shop that is primarily notable because she has a soft shell crab exhibit showing the stages of the crab molt and how they are harvested. It's something that is easier to see in person than to really understand by reading about it. This is a seasonal exhibit which she runs with her son Teddy. Teddy's crab shedding shack is behind the store.
Sign describing soft crab process

Sign describing soft crab process


Blue crabs live 2-3 years. They grow by shedding (molting) the hard shell (exoskeleton). The molting takes place more than a dozen times during their lifetime. When the blue crab comes out of the hard shell it is very soft. That's why it is called a soft-shell crab. About two weeks before the crab sheds the hard shell it becomes what watermen call the 'peeler crab' The watermen search for the peeler crabs, and bring them home and keep them alive in soft-crab 'farms' until they shed their hard shells. The peeler crab goes through three stages before they actually shed. The first stage is called the "green crab stage". At this stage, the crab starts changing color and becomes less spry than the average crab. The second stange is the "rank peeler stage". The crab's color changes to a deep red color. The hard shell starts cracking under the pinters. The third and final stage is the 'buster crab stage' The crab now actually bursts its hard shell and frees itself in a matter of minutes. At this stage, the crab has to be removed from the pen because the crabs who still have shells will eat the soft-shell ones. The Chesapeake produces more blue crabs and soft-shell crabs than any other body of water in the world.
Gladstone Memorial Health Center

Gladstone Memorial Health Center


Large Sat dish and graves beside cart path

Large Sat dish and graves beside cart path


The water table is too high on most of the island to allow for burial in the ground. So some burials are done at the surface of the ground (as is also done in Key West and New Orleans among other places - but on Tangier the graves are much less elaborate). There are a lot of graves in people's yards - anywhere that the land isn't too marshy.
Church with bike rack and historic marker

Church with bike rack and historic marker


The Methodist church and parsonage are some of the biggest most prominent buildings on the island.
One of the few cars behind the historic marker

One of the few cars behind the historic marker


The informational sign outside of the church on Tangier tells part of the story of the Rev. Joshua Thomas. The Rev. Thomas was responsible in great part for the predominance of the Methodist church in Somerset County and Tangier Island. Rev. Adam Wallace's 1861 biography, "The Parson of the Islands" describes Joshua Thomas as being of a "natural roughness, a polished diamond of the first order, to whom lawyers, judges, doctors and preachers gave more heed than they would to the most cultured man in the community." He was a fisherman, who was converted to Methodism in 1805. He became an official member of the circuit (which included Tangier Island) as an exhorter.

When the British Fleet headquartered themselves here during the war of 1812 (occupying themselves in ravaging the Chesapeake Bay), Brother Thomas, as Joshua was now known, conferred with the British Admiral on several occasions. Brother Thomas influenced the Admiral to spare the trees around the Methodist camp ground and to use a vacant house as a headquarters rather than seizing a neighbor's home. Before the fleet left Tangier (which was bigger then) to take Baltimore (Fort McHenry of "Star Spangled Banner" fame) Brother Thomas was asked to exhort the soldiers.

At the appointed hour, some twelve thousand men were lined up in columns to hear Joshua Thomas preach. He warned them of the danger and told them God told him they could not take Baltimore and would not succeed in their battle. I don't know how much of the defeat of the British at Ft. McHenry was due to this 'pep talk' that the Rev. Thomas gave them, but I understand some of them came back to Tangier and asked for his absolution.

Parsonage for the Methodist Church

Parsonage for the Methodist Church

Golf carts and motor scooters

Golf carts and motor scooters

One of the few regular vehicles

One of the few regular vehicles

Local Shop

Local Shop

What Not Shop

What Not Shop

Cat lying in the 'street'

Cat lying in the 'street'

Cat that walks by himself

Cat that walks by himself

Looking across to the back of the rectory

Looking across to the back of the rectory


Bob got some ice at the grocery story (we aren't running the refrigeration just for this weekend).
Grocery store

Grocery store


There is a LOT of current in the marina when we get back. We can see the water rushing past the pilings. The fenders have gotten out of position, and Bob tries to push the boat away from the pier so he can put them into position, but he can't do it by himself. After I take the picture, I go to help.
Bob tries to push the boat out to fix fenders

Bob tries to push the boat out to fix fenders


A power cat is tied up at the end of our dock, and a big power boat named TIGGER comes in who has been promised that spot.

They tied up to the pilings across the ends of the slips (the 3 pm boat leaves so that he won't be blocked in)
Tigger tied to the ends of the slips waiting

Tigger tied to the ends of the slips waiting


to wait for him to vacate the space - he was only going to be an hour, but his hour is up and there is no sign of him.

I've decided to eat dinner at Crocketts family style which is up past the church. Mr. Parks tells us that she doesn't seat anyone after 5:15, so we start at 4:30 and hike up there as fast as I can.
Bob walking along the street

Bob walking along the street

Drawing of Chesapeake House

Drawing of Chesapeake House


Chesapeake House sign

Chesapeake House sign


Crabcake posing for his picture

Crabcake posing for his picture


This is a cat named Crabcake. Crabcake lives on Tangier Island several houses down from Hilda Crockett's Chesapeake House. From November 1 to April 30, Crabcake stays around his home. He eats and sleeps at home. But from when Crockett's opens May 1, until they close Oct 31st, Crabcake sits outside of Crocketts every day, even though he doesn't get fed at Crocketts. He must be there because he enjoys the attention and all the petting that the tourists give to him.
Inside Chesapeake House

Inside Chesapeake House

menu

menu


Dinner is $17.00 each for all you can eat. They start out putting the cold dishes on the table (cole slaw, potato salad, pickled beets, ham, and applesauce), and then add rolls, green beans, corn pudding, fried clam fritters, and then you ask for either one or two crab cakes (which are round).
crabcake

crabcake


It finishes up with home made pound cake. One of the guys at our table flew in his private plane, and he came down to see our boat after dinner. He is staying at Crockett's B&B
Crockett's Guest House

Crockett's Guest House


because Shirley's Bay View (over by the airport) is full. We saw both of the Crocketts Guest House and Shirley's on the island tour.
Shirley's

Shirley's


We walk back more leisurely,
Cats

Cats


One of the Crockett Family's House

One of the Crockett Family's House

flower

flower

chicken

chicken


Tangier Island is small and is shrinking from erosion. So all the land above water is used to the maximum - chickens, bikes, cats and graves all share space in the tiny yards of the houses on the island. Bike rentals and crab shedding demonstrations can also be found in the yards of houses
x100_0685.JPGcats chickens and bikes

cats chickens and bikes

Sidewalk lined with annuals

Sidewalk lined with annuals

House with no driveway

House with no driveway


and I stop and sit on the bench by the church.
Methodist church after dinner

Methodist church after dinner


The Rev Swain wrote A BRIEF HISTORY OF TANGIER ISLAND, VIRGINIA Originally written by Reverend C. P. Swain in the 1890's, it relates the history of both the people and the Methodist religion on the island. From 1808 through 1858 up to 10,000 people swelled the island each summer for Methodist camp meetings.

In a letter to the Richmond Dispatch, July 30, 1899, Rev. Swain wrote:

"In 1835, when there were only a few people here, they built a small framed church, 18 by 18 feet. In 1842 they enlarged the building to 22 by 26. In 1860 the house was again enlarged to accommodate the ever-increasing congregation. In 1870 a new building was erected, 36 by 50, at a cost of $2,400, and made to cover about 2,000 square feet of ground floor and to seat 600 people. In 1896 it was found that a larger building was needed, and the present structure, modern in its construction and conveniences; Lighted with gas and heated with steam, was erected at a cost of $10,000, about $7,000 of which has been paid in cash, and the rest is all subscribed."

According to the sign on the church foundation wall, this church was renamed the Swain Memorial M. E. Church in 1900 the year after the above was written. I presume he had died before the church was named after him, but I can't find any information out about that. The marble memorial was erected in his memory by the citizens of Tangier.
Swain memorial

Swain memorial


The kids are riding bikes and they have ice cream after dinner at Spanky's.
Spanky's

Spanky's


The power cat is gone, and TIGGER is tied up with their bow sticking across in front of ours. They intend to go to St. Leonard creek tomorrow.
large_1599584-Ducks_Tangier_Island.jpgDucks

Ducks

Fishing boat at sunset

Fishing boat at sunset


Sun sets over Tangier Island harbor

Sun sets over Tangier Island harbor


Hilda Crockett's Chesapeake House doesn't seat you for dinner after 5:15 pm. So no matter how slowly you eat, you are done by 6 pm. About all there is left to do in town is walk around, and then watch the sun set. Tangier is fairly flat and you can see the sun set from just about anyplace.

Sunday August 8, 2004

Tigger and RosalieAnn at Parks Marina

Tigger and RosalieAnn at Parks Marina


We really can't leave until TIGGER does. There is a boat behind us so we can't back up, and the wind is blowing us toward the dock. The lady from TIGGER walks out in town to take some photos, so it is fortunate we are in no hurry as we are only going to Crisfield today.
Parks marina boardwalk

Parks marina boardwalk


The evening before I saw the people on one of the other sailboats in the marina feeding the ducks. So even though Bob said not to feed them, I threw them a few crumbs in the morning.
8959f0b0-abea-11e8-a563-b7571cf95130.jpg894704f0-abea-11e8-bea5-0bd639d33874.jpg87f6b730-abea-11e8-bea5-0bd639d33874.jpg
After TIGGER leaves Bob takes off the lines (the boat doesn't move from the dock as the wind keeps us alongside)
As we left the marina

As we left the marina


and we motor east out the channel toward Tangier Sound. The depth sounder does go off (it is set for seven feet), and Bob sees as little as 6 feet.
Municipal dock

Municipal dock


A man stands by the crab shedding troughs

A man stands by the crab shedding troughs


Anchorage

Anchorage


The harbor in Tangier has a very swift current in it, and it is a very busy harbor. Not only are there fishermen who run around in the harbor, but there are the ferry boats from Crisfield and Reedville that come in and turn around. Also, there are depth problems at some places even in the channel. Anchoring needs to be out of the channel. The channel bends at this point. There is a power boat and a sailboat both anchored here.
Tangier harbor going east

Tangier harbor going east


Tugboat in Tangier Sound

Tugboat in Tangier Sound


When we get to Crisfield, we are back in Maryland. It doesn't take us very long to get there even though we didn't even tried to sail as the wind is under 5 knots
Old Fertilizer Plant stack

Old Fertilizer Plant stack


Janes Island ATON and power boat

Janes Island ATON and power boat

Marker-the beginning of the channel to Crisfield

Marker-the beginning of the channel to Crisfield

Old house on point

Old house on point


The entrance profile of Crisfield has really changed. The brick building which in the past was a useful landmark to find the harbor entrance is barely visible because they are building a big condo right by the entrance channel.
608392681657221-Large_new_bu.._Crisfield.jpgLarge new condo building by harbor entrance

Large new condo building by harbor entrance

Coming in past Evan's Crab house

Coming in past Evan's Crab house


Crisfield is a tiny village of less than 2800 people on the Delmarva peninsula. In Maryland, on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay, Crisfield is the southernmost town before you get to Virginia. The town was originally called Somer's Cove after one of the settlers in the area. They started out as farmers, but soon became watermen. The harbor and marina are still called Somers Cove. Because of the low lying marshy land, billions of oyster shells were used in the foundations for local roads, buildings and railroads. Some places in Louisiana use oyster shells in a similar fashion. A businessman named Crisfield got the railroad extended as far as Somer's Cove so that their product could be shipped quickly. Some stories go that the town was renamed in honor of Crisfield to appease him when he fell through a rotten pier.

We tied up in Crisfield after a trip of 12.4 nm. A boat named EXODUS comes in after us and is across the dock. There are many empty slips in the marina, but I suppose it is Sunday and everyone has to be back at work on Monday.
Somer's Marina

Somer's Marina

Crisfield calls itself the crab capitol. Although Annapolis is "Crab Town" in CB lingo, the real crab town in Maryland is Crisfield. The street signs in Crisfield all have an outline of a crab on them. This one was on the corner next to The Cove Restaurant. I don't know the significance of Charles Adams Corner.
Street signs

Street signs

x100_0773.JPGWater tower

Water tower


Most stuff in Crisfield is closed (like the little museum). I took the laptop up to the marina office and used their email line. Then we walked up
large_x100_0771.JPGlarge_100_0772.JPGlarge_n100_0775.JPG
and ate at the Waterman's Inn which was closed when we were here before (i.e. on Monday and Tuesday),
Window box with shells and eating utensil 'flowers'

Window box with shells and eating utensil 'flowers'


We had a choice of the Early Bird Dinners or the Blue Plate Specials. We took the Early Bird (before 6) for $10.95 each. Bob had steamed shrimp, a crabcake, lima beans and a salad, and I had a crab cake, broiled Tilapia, ratatouille and wild rice. We both had dessert - I had creme brulee and Bob had a chocolate volcano.
Museum sign

Museum sign


We walked around to the other side of the marina to where the (closed) museum is, and took some photos there.
Map from bulletin board near museum

Map from bulletin board near museum


Posted walking tour map

Posted walking tour map


The escorted walking tour (which I have not taken) leaves from the J. Millard Tawes Museum M-Sa at 10:00 a.m. It goes by a working boatyard, makes a stop at Metompkin Seafood where crabs and oysters are processed, and visits the depot area where the boats leave daily for Smith and Tangier Islands. Afterwards, you can talk to Binky Dize at the crab shanty in back of the museum and see crabs shed. Binky's there most days from noon to 1 p.m. Tours are $2.50 each. Children under 6 are free, and 6-12 are $1.00. On this map it says:
"Look both ways before crossing the streets. Some of our citizens are more accustomed to driving boats than motor vehicles"
"Stay together and stand in the designated areas while in the packing houses. The owners are always looking for extra employees!!"
"Enjoy yourself and remember - DON'T BE CRABBY OR A WATERMAN "WILL GET YA!""

1658191-Board_outside_Museum_Crisfield.jpg
I took a photo of the two flagpoles to illustrate the difference between a flagpole for the US flag and the Maryland state flag. A US flagpole should have an eagle on the top. For a Maryland flag, you need to have a gold cross bottony on the top.
Maryland flagpole on the right

Maryland flagpole on the right


After we got back to the boat, I went for a swim, but the water in the pool was quite cold, and I couldn't stay in it long.
Bob on RosalieAnn in Crisfield (Somer's Cove)

Bob on RosalieAnn in Crisfield (Somer's Cove)


Sunset from our boat

Sunset from our boat


There isn't much night life in Crisfield. The nicest thing to do is dine where you can watch the sunset, have an ice cream cone from the pavilion at the end of the dock, or from the deck of your boat.

Monday August 9, 2004

It looks like the predicted winds are from the SW and will be good for getting back home today and there are possible thunderstorms again tomorrow. So we cast off relatively uneventfully about 0900.
The Crab Place Truck

The Crab Place Truck

Crisfield boat

Crisfield boat

J. C Tawes and Side Street Market

J. C Tawes and Side Street Market

Tangier Cruise boat

Tangier Cruise boat


Pavilion at the end of the dock (good for watching sunsets)

Pavilion at the end of the dock (good for watching sunsets)

Sign - Thanks for visiting Crisfield

Sign - Thanks for visiting Crisfield


After we motor out of the Crisfield harbor and down the river, we turned south toward Tangier as Bob thinks that going through Tangier rather than north around Smith will give us a better angle on the wind to get from there to the Potomac. So we motor though Tangier harbor, this time from east to west.
x100_0844.JPGx100_0848.JPG
As the saying goes - don't take your boat "where the standing bird has a dry butt."

As the saying goes - don't take your boat "where the standing bird has a dry butt."


n100_0857.JPGWaterside of Tangier

Waterside of Tangier


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Tangier harbor

Tangier harbor


Parks Marina from the harbor

Parks Marina from the harbor


The menhaden boats are out in force,
large_09-1049100_0840.JPG
and we see some schools of menhaden on the surface between Tangier and Smith Point. But they lied about the winds again. Nothing we can do gives us any wind for sailing. We had chicken for lunch, and I ate the last nectarine and Bob had a banana.

We got in to the marina just before 4 pm after 36.5 nm at an average speed of 5.2 knots. We got fuel first (50 gallons - we carry 100 gallons) before we went to our slip. We've used the engine about 14 hours on this trip.
Courtney's from to Smith Creek

Courtney's from to Smith Creek


After we get the boat unloaded, we go down to Courtney's for dinner (Scheibles is closed on Monday and the Spinnaker rebuild after Hurricane Isabel has not been completed).

For the rest of August, although I had another visit to the dentist, we spent some time eating hard crabs locally at a local crab house - the Drift Inn
Drift Inn

Drift Inn


x100_0955.JPG
Hard Crabs

Hard Crabs

September 2004

9 September 2004

Our first trip in September was to the funeral of Bob's Aunt Eleanor. A sad occasion, but we could connect with family
large_u100_1001.JPG

We took another trip up to Baltimore in September to the dentist, and then we went to another local crab house - Seabreeze (next to another crab house on the Patuxent, Sandgates)
Seabreeze placemat - instructions on eating hard crabs

Seabreeze placemat - instructions on eating hard crabs

Seabreeze pier on the Patuxent

Seabreeze pier on the Patuxent

Seafood dinner at Seabreeze

Seafood dinner at Seabreeze

Sandgates sign out on the highway

Sandgates sign out on the highway


On the way home we stopped for fuel at
Ridgells -the only full service gas station in the county

Ridgells -the only full service gas station in the county

Posted by greatgrandmaR 18:18 Archived in USA

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