Hampton to Solomon’s
Posted on June 10, 2018
Monday, June 4. Decided to stay one more night in Hampton and Bob took me on a tour of Fort Monroe via our loaned Miata. Fort Monroe was completed in 1834 and was an active military station until 2011. The fort sits on the southern tip of the Virginia peninsula, is surrounded by a moat, guarded the navigation channel and was the largest stone fort ever built in the U.S. It is now a national monument but does have private residences and businesses on the grounds. In the late afternoon, we took the dinghy to a restaurant at the Blue Water Marina called Surf Rider and had our very first soft shell crabs ever. We have since had them several times but so far, Surf Rider’s has been the tastiest.
Tues / Wedn, June 5 -7. Tuesday morning we said goodbye to Hampton and headed across the Chesapeake to Cape Charles, VA. The Chesapeake can be very rough and boaters are cautioned to “watch the weather” as the wind, waves and storms can cause serious havoc. It is over 20 miles across in the lower Chesapeake. Our crossing was pleasant even with the crossing of the shipping channels and seeing huge freighters transiting and anchored out in the bay. We reserved a slip and pulled into Cape Charles Town Harbor marina. Small quaint town with Victorian homes, a nice boardwalk & beach. The sailing vessel “Godspeed” which is a replica of the ships that settled Jamestown, VA pulled in and was quite impressive. They were on their way to Norfolk for a festival where they will give tours and educate the public about the history of Jamestown.
Thurs/ Fri, June 7-8. Onancock, VA. Now this is a nice town in every way. Super nice people, a few great restaurants, lovely homes, and a protected marina all with a 1950’s era feel. Upon arriving, we were greeted by T. Lee Byrd, a life long resident and current councilman. Came out to welcome us and told us about his town. I mentioned that a friend of mine, Johnny “Rideout” Wise, is from Onancock and of course he knew the family and directed me to the building that housed the drug store once operated by John’s father. (photo). The movie theater on Market street is right out of the 1950’s and Bob was fascinated by it. (photo)
Friday, June 8. Tangier’s Island. We decided to take the ferry to Tangier’s Island as opposed to taking our boat and glad we did as 4.5 hours was plenty of time on this 2.5 mile long island. The fisherman on the island are referred to as “Watermen” and still make their living on crabbing. They are known as the soft shell crab capital of the world. There are 450 inhabitants left on the island (down from around 1,500), they have 3 restaurants (no alcohol is sold on the island), an ice cream shop, several gift shops, their own dialect dating back to Elizabethan times and get around on golf carts, bikes and motor cycles. There are 4 cars on the island but some residents keep their cars in Crisfield, MD for when they visit the mainland. The majority of the homes have graves in their yards of family members dating back to the 1800’s.
Oh and one policeman and a clinic that is manned by nurses with a doctor coming by once a week. Emergencies are air lifted via helicopter out of Maryland even though this is a Virginia territory.
The soft shell crabbing shanties are interesting. During the soft shell crab season, the traps which are in the water must be checked every 2 hours 24/7 so that as soon as the crab molts his shell they are there to pull it. Really hard working people on Tangier’s. Our ferry captain, Mark Crockett, was one of the nicest people we have met on our trip thus far. He converted one of the crab boats to a ferry boat and during the summer runs the ferry 7 days a week. The ferry to Tangier’s leaves at 10am and 5pm every day unless its blowing over 30 knots. We felt we contributed to their economy by taking the ferry over ($50), taking the golf cart tour ($10), lunch at Lorraine’s ($40), T-shirt at Sandy’s Place ($30), rented our own golf cart at Four Brothers ($20), and had ice cream at Spanky’s ($7).
The island and culture are very unique and we were encouraged to see it before it washes away. The island is losing its shoreline at a rate of 35′ per year and unless $40 million is pumped into saving it, the island will eventually wash away. Google New York Times article about Tangier’s Island if you get a chance.
Saturday, June 9th. Prior to departing Onancock in the morning, we walked to town (3 blocks) to visit the Farmer’s market and bought some fresh vegetables, bread, crab, pork dumplings and sticky rice balls. All homemade and organic. Also had breakfast at Janet’s Café and dinner at Mallard’s the first night so again contributed to the local economy.
Departed Onancock, VA to cross over to Solomons Island, Maryland our 7th state. As the wind was up a bit, we opted to head north on the Tangier’s Sound with a following sea in lieu of crossing the 20 miles across the bay. Since the trip would be about 50 miles, we decided to bump up the speed and arrived in 3 hours just as the rain started. What timing and luck. Shortly after arriving the heavens opened up with torrential rains, strong winds and lightning. It would have been nerve-racking to be caught in that storm outside the harbor. Spring Cove Marina was kind enough to give us a T-head slip so that we could hip tie our dinghy to one side and dock without having to send one of us in with the boat and one with the dinghy.
Upon arriving, we met a Looping couple on the sailboat “Certain Way”. Chad and Michelle (and dog Riley) started their adventure in September from Holland, MI so are 9 months into it with just a few more months to go. Enjoyed chatting with them about the places we had both visited coming up from Florida. Decided to stay an extra night so we could use the courtesy car and provision the boat. Tomorrow we head to Annapolis, MD weather permitting.
Today marks our 56th day on the boat and we are still enjoying every minute of it. Some observations to share: I have been in the same flip flops (that daughter Colleen gave me) all but 2 times; we are always busy (planning, moving, maintenance, cleaning, provisioning, laundry, sight seeing, etc.); there isn’t much down time; no time to be bored; lots of great friendly people and towns; don’t miss the traffic from home; do miss the house (some); miss family; walking more; drinking and eating more even though we started very healthy; but all in all just a great adventure. Stay tuned for more.