Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Tangier Island- a place like no other

From Onancock we rode the ferry Joyce Marie II to Tangier Island, a trip of approximately 75 minutes. Joyce Marie II is a traditional style Chesapeake Bay deadrise fiberglass boat 36' long. It is the type of boat used by local watermen who make their living from the Bay's crabs, oysters and fish, depending on the season. Mark Crockett is the captain and a native of Tangier. The ferry departed Onancock at 10:00 am and left Tangier at 3:30 pm on the return trip.

Freshly caught soft shells.
Most watermen's boats carry female names. When I asked Captain Mark the reason for this he said, "You'd BETTER name for boat after your wife!"

Typical waterman's boat

Coletta and Pam on the ferry
Captain John Smith stopped on Tangier in 1608 and Cornishman John Crockett first settled here in 1686. The Crocketts, Pruitts and Parks are still the leading families here. The island is about 1x3 miles in area, and at most 4 feet above sea level, The population is around 700. There are a handful of cars on the island's one street- most folks use golf carts and bikes to get around. Most keep cars on the mainland. The island has a unique style of speech thought to be directly descended from early Elizabethan-era settlers. When one islander talks to another, it's difficult to understand the conversation. "Time" sounds like "toime" and "mind" sounds like "moind."  You can listen here.

Arriving at Tangier

Crab shanties- soft shells are held hereunto they molt. Then they are packaged, refrigerated and taken to the mainland for distribution.

Crab traps stacked up on the dock

The main street on Tangier

Tom, Mr. Parks of Parks Marina, and Mark

Tangier traffic

A typical street- just wide enough for 2 golf carts.
This sign explains why front yards are often filled with graves. Land on Tangier is at a premium.

Many graves are capped with cement to prevent the caskets from popping up when the water table rises.

The fresh grave of a well-known local waterman who drowned the previous week when his boat sank.

Crab trap floats decorating a fence.
We had the best crab cakes and crab bisque ever here at Fisherman's Corner.

A video crew recording footage for a tourism commercial.
Swain Memorial Methodist church has gorgeous windows, including some with a nautical flair. Since a huge revival  IN 1995, 1/3 of the population are born again Christians.


Our final view of Tangier- another great adventure!

John, Mark, Capt. Mark Crockett, and Tom
The combined school educates about 70 students in grades K-12 and has the highest graduation rate in Virginia. Last year all 6 graduates went on to college. Many of the young people then return to the island to resume their beloved lifestyle.

Erosion is a major problem for Tangier, steadily stealing away the soil. In 2013 nearly 40 feet of land was washed away from the north side of the island, In 2015 heavy ice cut off access to the island. The National Guard brought in supplies until an ice cutter cleared a path to the frozen island.

Onancock, VA

Miles today: 35
Total miles: 7,198

We were finally able to leave Deltaville after a 2.5 week stay to wrap up the sale of Mara Beel! I will write details about exchanging our beloved boat for a smaller, trailerable tug in a future post, but for the moment you should know that we will be picking up Mara Beel II soon in Georgetown, MD. We are very excited!

In the meantime, we did not want to backtrack to complete this section of the Great Loop, and our great friends John and Pam on Short Vacation have been wonderful in taking us aboard to cruise up the Chesapeake on their 44' DeFever. We have settled into the forward cabin quite comfortably and love this generous couple- putting up with the 2 of us in close quarters for 10 days is no small feat!

So, here we are at Onancock on the EasternShore of the Chesapeake along with Tom and Coletta on Greek's Folly and Art and Pam on Tinacious. The bigger cities like Annapolis and Baltimore are on the Western Shore. While those places have a lot to offer, we prefer the quieter, laid back small towns across the Bay. Onancock, nestled on Onancock Creek about 5 miles off the Bay, is one of those special places. We have never met friendlier people anywhere! From the moment the dockhands caught our lines we felt welcome and appreciated. The best example of this spirit is when we gained 2 more folks for the dinner I planned to cook on board. I needed another Boursin cheese for my sauce. Six of us set off on our bikes for Walmart, which proved to be too far away and on a busy highway.  (We did, however, find Scoops ice cream shop.) Someone at the marina learned of our need and contacted a local wine and cheese shop which had closed for the day, but had no Boursin. The request was then relayed to Terris, owner of the Blarney Stone Irish pub,  who produced the necessary ingredient AND delivered it to our boat! Amazing! Dinner was saved! We enjoyed  delicious appetizers and a meal there the following day.

Onancock Wharf Marina and Greek's Folly

Pam is ready to ride!

Heron sculpture

Can't beat ice cream on a hot day!


Tom and Coletta

Pam and John

No words needed!

Historic Hopkins Bro. Store and Museum
 Downtown Onancock is just a short walk or bike ride from the waterfront. We girls found several shops to visit. Thursday afternoon featured a mini-concert in the town square presented by musicians on a tuba, a banjo and a violin playing old-time tunes- great fun!

Enjoying the music.

Tom and Coletta show how it's done.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Yorktown Battlefield

Yorktown is a short drive from our marina in Deltaville, so we took advantage of this fact and visited the National Historic Park where the Revolutionary War battle took place. It's an incredibly beautiful area, just across the broad York River from Gloucester. It was here that the Americans and their French allies defeated the forces of British Lord Cornwallis and for all practical purposes ended the War for Independence.

We took the narrated (by CD) tour in our car through the Battlefield- it was highly informative, even warning us to watch for cross traffic at busy intersections.

The Victory Monument
Part of the Battlefield Tour route

House in old Yorktown with a plaque commemorating French Admiral Comte De Grasse
 whose landing of troops and blockade of the Chesapeake Bay
were instrumental in the victory over the British.

A siege line


Grand French Battery Line
Fraises- pointed poles planted into the ground for defense

These were formidable for charging foot soldiers.

Mark looking toward the Visitor Center.

Fraises surrounding a redoubt, or earthworks.

Plaque commemorating the French role capture of Redoubt 9.

The troops of the Marquis De Lafayette and Alexander Hamilton stormed Redoubt 10 with fixed bayonets and unloaded muskets.

The Moore House, were the surrender terms were negotiated.
The surrender document was signed in this room.

One of the 4 bedrooms in the Moore House

Another upstairs room

Shorts beds, lumpy mattresses

The pantry

A swan on nearby Wormley Pond
Wormley Creek