September 21 – October 3, 2018
September 21 – Detroit River Boat Cruise aboard Diamond Jack’s
September 22 – Bentley High School Class of ’63 Reunion
September 23 – Highland to Somerset PA by car
September 24 – Somerset PA to Deltaville by car
September 25-29 – Outfit the Namaste and Splash
September 30 – Doziers in Deltaville to Urbanna Town Marina/ VA- 17 miles
October 1 – Urbanna to Parks Marina on Tangier Island – 38 miles
October 3 – Tangier Island to St. Mary’s Maryland – 37 miles
Miles traveled this blog – 92
Total miles traveled – 5100
The last post described our home stay which was about as perfect as a summer gets. We hung out the first three weeks of September to watch competitive hockey, gymnastics, and Taekwondo, get caught up with the camp family, attend a few once in a lifetime events including Mike’s keynote address at Kalamazoo College’s Convocation and my 55th class reunion. A word about reunions: lots of people don’t attend and I understand why but having grown up in one community, attending the same school district K-12, and marrying the most handsome, smart, and fun guy from the class of ’62, I enjoyed reconnecting with and celebrating people I have known literally all of my life. It was both a grounding and an exhilarating experience. A big shout-out to Gwen for organizing the fun cruise up the Detroit River and to the Reunion Committee for their hard work in throwing a grand party! We were up later and danced more than we had in years.
The following morning we finished packing, mopped the floor on the way out the door and headed back to the Namaste Too waiting for us in Deltaville, VA. We were tired so took two days to cover about 600+ miles using back-in-the-day conversations to keep us awake and happy. Day two of the drive was cool and misty but we pushed ourselves to tour the memorial for Flight 93. Not sure what I was expecting but suffice it to say it is a National Park and Memorial that is a must-see if ever you are in central Pennsylvania.
We arrived at Stingray Boat Works in sunshine and warmer temperatures. Warmer turned into very hot as we cleaned, unpacked, and prepared the Namaste Too for our Fall Cruise of the Chesapeake. We found her in great shape having run a portable dehumidifier in the kitchen sink and set out tubs of moisture eating stuff to fight the mold as well as having plugged the through-hulls with screening and placed bug traps around to discourage the ants and roaches. It kept getting hotter but until we were in the water there was no air conditioning as both our heat and air function by way of a heat pump utilizing seawater. The four electric fans made life tolerable along with meals in cool local restaurants.
After launch, we lived for a couple of days on the rickety dock at Stingray, then we moved to Dozier’s, a full resort marina. This is a favorite place complete with tiled individual bathrooms, an outdoor pool, laundry room and rocking chairs across the porch. The heat continued so we also swam and enjoyed what may be out last outdoor pool days of 2018, who knows?
Before leaving we visited Deltaville’s impressive Maritime Museum which also serves as their community center and wedding venue. We saw Skip Jacks (sailboats) and Buy Boats (working boats for crabbing, fishing and oystering across the Chesapeake) both as museum models and commercial working boats which visually express the nautical history of more than three centuries of Watermen.
Sidebar: several excruciating days here were spent listening to the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings – hard but important. All of this is going on less than 100 miles up the river as the Heron flies.
Some McFall history is in order. During the early 2000s Curt, as a new MTU college graduate, taught sailing at a Boy Scout Camp just across the River from Deltaville on the Kilmarnock River. For two summers, he weekly captained a 40’ boat taking 5 or 6 boys and their scout master out onto the Chesapeake for a learn-to-sail. They went to Urbanna and Tangier Island, but mostly anchored out in the many nearby tributaries. I remember watching the weather daily and calling him from East Lansing with any scary weather reports. How could he have so quickly grown into this responsible teacher/captain/adult? These days were undoubtedly the roots for Camps Lookout and Carvela as well as Camp Gig!
In Curt’s path, we cast off for our shake-down cruise to Urbanna, VA, just 17 miles up the Rappahannock River. The boat ran well as we shared the river with more than 65 sailboats racing in what appeared to be several different directions. We managed to stay out of their way reaching the Urbanna Town Dock at high tide and also swift current. Thanks to Carol, the dock-master, we got the Namaste into a slip – crosswise for a little minute but safe and unscathed. What a quaint little place with lots of marinas and friendly people. Our 3 pm Sunday breakfast at Something Different may be one of our best breakfasts ever. I had a crab-cake and Virginia ham omelet.
The following morning we left for Tangier Island, about 40 miles back down the Rappahannock River and directly east into the middle of the Chesapeake Bay. I don’t know where to begin, or perhaps more accurately where to end but this place demands description. Tangier Island’s 400 year history began when John Smith visited and named Tangier in 1608 (he charted much of the Chesapeake Bay) and later was the headquarters of a British Fleet ravaging the Chesapeake in 1814. Tangier is a crabbing community of a constant 470 inhabitants on 1 X 2.5 miles of quickly eroding/sinking earth. The SW end of the island consists of a ½ mile pristine sandy beach. Milton Parks, the 87 year-old dock-master and native of the island, was here greeting boats when Curt visited and still as sharp as a tack, has many stories to tell.
Paying the bill was a challenge as Milton never seemed to want to take our money!
The population is mainly a Methodist, Republican group of Watermen (who crab six days a week) and their families. Much of the history we learned from the only policeman’s wife who works in one of the handful of gift/ice cream stores and as a substitute teacher. There is an impressive medical center with three doctors but no dentists. The school serves 65 students with proud teachers and parents reporting that their students are as well prepared as any in Virginia. High school seniors are all volunteers on the fire department. There is a grocery store, post office, sewage treatment plant, electric power plant, water tower and junk yard complete with friendly dog. We rode rental bikes around the island where everyone is either waving from golf carts, bikes or on foot. The roads are not wide enough for golf carts to pass and while there are cemeteries, some of the houses have family graves in their backyard. There is sometimes wifi, cable and phone service but our devises required us to be directly across from the Verizon office to get even slow LTE reception. A mail boat arrives from MD and a tour boat from VA once a day which requires a 45 minute trip in good weather but there are no other options for arrival and departure except private boats or small airplanes.
The last night on Tangier we went to Lorraine’s for soft shell crab with some interesting dock-mates and a real live tug boat captain who hauls petroleum products between Maine and Texas on the open ocean. Bigger than life interesting guy!
I suspect this is a different place than it was in the early 2000s but it still resembles the life-style and charm of the 1950s. It is a community where everyone knows and cares for everyone else and where we, to quote an islander, ”make up for what we lack in our own way.”
As much as we loved Tangier Island we decided to move on. After a long dock meeting and good byes around, we left this morning and headed back across The Bay (Chesapeake) and up the Potomac River to a smaller river off the eastern bank called the St. Mary’s River. We anchored after a little trouble with the windless (the electric mechanism that releases the anchor) because the high amperage connections had corroded. A little scraping and some corrosion-be-gone and all was well again. Thankfully we have a brand new back-up anchor (Jim’s birthday gift from the Pat McFall’s) which held us until we figured out the issue.
We then dinghied into shore to St. Mary’s. Half the town is a walking museum explaining the history of this location as the first Capitol of Maryland until 1695 when the government was moved to Annapolis. St. Marys continued to be an important port because of its deep water allowing large cargo ships to transport tobacco back to England and bring in necessary goods to the residents. There are active archeological digs and explanatory placards to explain the rich heritage. Blended into the museum is the picturesque and highly acclaimed St. Mary’s College. It is a public liberal arts college of about 1600 students where all buildings on campus represent the architecture of early colonial times. It reminds us of Kalamazoo College. We anchored here one night and enjoyed the scenery and quiet.
It remains hot – we swam off the boat in 83 degrees at 5:30 this afternoon – St. Marys River!
Good Boat Name: A Frayed Knot
Bad Boat Name: The Chesapeake seems to be a “more refined” boating arena than many we have encountered so far. No Bad Boat names to report today.
Quote of the Day: “Sometimes the greatest gift you can give another person is to simply include them.” unknown
Happy Birthday to: Bryan, Tom, Nick, and Patty, John, Kim
Congratulations to: Ashleigh and the Raven’s for winning the West Michigan Hockey Classic last weekend.
and to Lee for obtaining a higher level in Taekwondo.
Get well soon to: Dwain Dumas (Looper)
WELCOME TO THE WORLD: Marlene Iwa Bilker