Living on the Eastern Shore, and Chincoteague in particular, we spend alot of time out on the boat in the summertime. It’s not flashy or fancy, a 23-foot Carolina Skiff – but the vessel we’ve dubbed the “Flat Bottomed Girl” always gets us where we need to go safely. We usually keep to the waters around the island – either hanging at Little Beach (the locals spot on Assateague Island, only accessible by boat), fishing a few miles offshore (bagging some keeper flounder), or finding a new secluded beach for some beachcombing (#teamchesapeake for life). Needless to say, it’s been a great summer for our family!
This past weekend we hooked up the boat, and trailered her over to the Chesapeake Bay side of the shore to drop in for a day of exploration on the bayside. Our destination? Tangier Island. A tiny dot on the map, smack dab in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay. I’ve lived here 20 years now, and growing up reading books like “Beautiful Swimmers” by William Warner, and it’s always been at the top of my list. So, my heart was so full to finally make the voyage across the Pocomoke Sound!
We docked in town at the ferry dock to try to figure out where we could tie up to disembark on the island. Next time we’ll go to Parks Marina and dock there – $5 buys you a slip all day. But the gentleman who were with the Steven Thomas, (the ferry that departs Crisfield to Tangier daily) and own the dock we tied to, were so friendly and told us to just stay docked right where we were. We took them up on their offer. Good people, I tell you!
We walked around town for a bit. The island is 3 miles long, by 2 miles wide. A good amount of that space is taken up by vast, lush green marshlands. You’ll find narrow alleyways adorned with tiny coastal cottages, little shops, a local history museum, and large pathways cutting through the heart of the marsh that connect the three main clusters of communities to each other.
And of course crab houses and workboats, as far as the eye can see. Canals also connect parts of the town, lots of folks were zipping around in little skiffs and jonboats. The Venice of the Chesapeake!
We went into a couple of the little shops (I’m always a sucker for a local cookbook), treated ourselves to slushies and ice cream at Four Brothers Crabhouse – a great spot to grab a quick bite, and moseyed around town soaking it all in. Next time dinner and sunset are definitely on the agenda. I’d also like to take a tour by golf cart. Lots of locals offer this service right when you get off the ferry. It’s a great way to see the town and learn some local history from those who know it best!
Speaking of those locals, they speak a form of Old English dialect. Many of the settlers came from the Cornwall region of England hundreds of years ago, and since the island is so isolated – the accent has remained. I couldn’t help but listen to conversations, just to hear them “cut up” in their native tongue. I love to hear an old Chincoteaguer talk, but a Tanigerman? Could listen to words, quirky sayings and their legendary “backtalk” all day long…
Afterwards we hopped back in the boat to head home, but not before we did a little bit more exploring. Went a bit to the north and anchored off of Uppards, the northernmost portion of the island. It was once inhabited 50 years ago, but erosion has taken it’s toll. Now it’s nothing but sandy beach and marshland.
I did a little beachcombing while the Jon and the boys enjoyed some time off the boat in the water and on the beach. You may have seen Tangier in the news recently, in national media reports. But, it’s another thing to see a headstone laying in the shoreline for yourself. The folks on Tangier have always been good at making due with what they have, and not relying on help – from anyone. But, they really need help from the outside to help combat the erosion problem. It’s a serious time-sensitive issue. Hopefully all this attention in the media lately will help on that front. I want my little ones to be able to bring their little ones to this special and unique place, in the heart of the Chesapeake Bay, and share it with them one day.
Afterwards we took the 20 minute ride home across the sound. It was dinnertime, so we docked at Capt E’s Hurricane Bar & Grill in Saxis and enjoyed dinner. That’s such a fun little spot – good eats, drinks, and atmosphere. It’s also very convenient to dock and eat. Always alot of griping trying to get the boat on the trailer with hungry kiddos…
After a dinner of soft shell sandwiches (washed down by a Grapefruit Crush) we pulled the boat out and headed home. It was a great day visiting our neighbors in the Bay, so different than my little coastal community, yet so much the same. You could say that for most of the towns here on the Eastern Shore, I guess. They all weave together to create the special fabric that is life here on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. And for that, I’m so thankful that I get to call this place home!
It was only our first time, but most definitely won’t be our last. Thanks for giving the Davis family such a memorable day, Tangier! We will be back soon.