Traveling the Chesapeake: Tangier

Chesapeake Bay Buyboat Association Reunion Tour: August 1-14, 2012

August 1, 2012 Deltaville to Tangier

The F.D. Crockett arrives at Tangier on the first day of the Buyboat Reunion Tour, joining buyboats from the southern and nothern fleets.

Approaching Milton Park’s Marina

11:30 am. Tangier is in sight. We rushed around this morning getting gear on board, but didn’t try for an early start as we were waiting for the Nellie Crockett (of Georgetown, originally of Deltaville) which was tied up in Jackson Creek, and the 55th Virginia, Bill Hight’s new boat (previously named the Twin Brothers). We left ahead of them a little after 9:00. The crew spent the morning stowing and swabbing–Gordon the decks and hold, me the galley and pilot house. The captain has been heading for the water tower of the island from our side of the bay. The air is warmer and damper now than it was earlier, though there was a foggy haze before we started off. Tangier brings happy memories and good times to look forward to–we are beginning to relax!

Buyboats Iva W., F.D.Crockett, and Propwash raft up at Parks Marina on Tangier Island

Milton Parks looks over the F.D. Crockett for the first time since her restoration. Milton knew her former captain “Pretty” Green when the boat was based in Poquoson and Hampton.

8:00 pm. All the boats coming to Tangier have arrived. Buyboats Propwash from Dumfries, VA, Samuel Bailey from Bushwood, MD, Dudley from Reedville, and deadrise Miss Trudy from Poquoson were waiting for us–we were joined by Nellie Crockett, 55th Virginia, and Muriel Eileen of Georgetown. We all are greeted by Cindy Wheatley, settle in, visit, and realize it is HOT. A discarded floor fan from Propwash makes our decks inviting for the visitors who don’t hesitate to clamber aboard all the boats. Iva W. arrives during dinner and rafts up next to us–there are a lot of buyboats at Milton Park’s Marina once again, but nothing like it used to be during the busy times. Visitors tell us stories of how they used to come to the piers and swim off of the buyboats when they were youngsters. Every resident here has some connection to the boats–either a parent or grandparent was a captain, or an uncle was a deckhand. Or in Milton’s case, he owned and captained the Irene Pearl. Milton comes aboard and tells stories to John and Larry Chowning—I ‘m not there at the time, which evidently makes the tales much more entertaining. Amazingly, as the sun sets and the cool breezes waft in, there are NO BUGS. We set up the portable AC anyway, to make sure it works.

Milton Parks poses at the wheel of the F.D. Crockett docked at his marina.

Evening Sky from Parks Marina

August 2

Larry Chowning shares his wisdom with the buyboat captains of the southern fleet in a pre-breakfast discussion.

9:00 pm. Breakfast on board, early, passing coffee to Propwash and 55th VA. We have discovered that the cushion in the pilot house is great for sitting, but hard for sleeping. John’s spot on the floor may be softer. I take a walk across the island to the point of the beach on the southernmost tip. The sand is covered with the menhaden that we saw floating as we neared the island yesterday. They don’t smell yet. I pass Larry Chowning and Gordon on my return–they walk as far as the beach will go. On board we set up the new displays about the museum fire and the F.D. Crockett and get lots of questions from the visitors who have come aboard the ferries from the mainlands. Some have come just for the buyboats, others feel lucky about the timing. John spends the day investigating the boats–especially the Dudley–spending hours in the engine room and looking through pictures of its working days. We take a quick trip to the island museum as the day cools off, then return to the docks as the skies start to cloud. In spite of the weather, Carol Moore picks up me and Logan and Dave Cantera for a trip to the Up’ards–the now eroded northernmost of the islands. Artifacts from the last 400 years are continually washed up on the banks, which now have only the private hunting camp of the island’s owner and the ghosts of original settlers, and sometimes the remnants of their graves. Among our finds are pieces of pottery and porcelain–from modern toilets, 1840’s steamboat china, Native American and early settler’s dinnerware. Broken bottletops and sea glass are the most common finds, though there are several baking powder bottles. Logan finds an ancient nail. We are so involved in our search that we don’t notice that the storm has gotten close, and make a fast, furious, and somewhat wet trip back in Carol’s fast little boat–a “Flare”– to the marina where Freddie Wheatley is steaming crabs, corn and Poquoson clams for our supper. We watch the worst of the storm go to the south-east as Cindy Lou brings out her Tangier Boiled Butter Icing  Layer Cake for dessert–supposedly a present for Captain John, but luckily for his health, something he is forced to share. Cindy is the most popular woman on the island, hands down. This is butter-vanilla fudge icing with delicious butter pound cake layers inbetween. There were supposed to be more layers, but Freddie said the puppy ate one of them. We try hard to believe him. This is way better than Smith Island cake.

Buyboat families gather for Tangier Island style steamed crabs and corn on the docks at Park’s Marina

August 3

Breakfast at Hilda Crockett’s, Cindy Lou helping out.

Our planned early start  is delayed by our scheduled afternoon arrival in Crisfield, which is only an hour and a half away. We all gorge on breakfast at Hilda Crockett’s B&B, with much discussion about whether the fried biscuits or the fried potatoes are the best. I notice on my walk afterwards that the osprey are “fishing” the menhaden-strewn beach and that the bunkers are starting to smell. We have more visitors on board the boat after the ferries arrive, many of them coming to wish us farewell. The breeze is moving closer to a wind, and we are glad we will be crossing Tangier Sound, and not the open bay, to get to Crisfield. We blow our whistles for departure at 1:30.

Buyboats heading into Tangier Sound, bound for Crisfield for the 2012 Reunion

Bill Hight’s 55th Virginia heads to Crisfield for the 2012 Reunion

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