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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Onancock to Tangiers Island

We slept in and departed Onancock about 10 am. We were only going twelve miles so no need to get up early. We headed northwest to Tangier Island. As we approached I saw what I thought was a sinking boat but it turned out to be a fishing boat – well, two fishing boats, a really big one circling a smaller one. 
I called Park’s Marina yesterday and spoke to Mrs. Parks, she said they had room for a 53 footer but. no, I could not make a reservation and she said to make sure I came in from the west and to call in the morning.
We were a little hesitant but decided if it didn’t work out we could just carry on. As we were approaching I tried to call but no cell service was available. Garth tried to call on the VHF but no answer. HUMM  -- all of the sudden we heard on the radio  “somebody trying to call Parks Marina” .  Three boats replied,  as we approached we saw two trawlers docking. They were having a difficult time because of the wind and a strong current. Garth and I were talking on our handy dandy headphones and basically decided we would try one approach at the one and only face dock and if it did not work out we would leave.  Mr. Parks was helping everyone tie up – he is 80 years old!!
The one trawler, “Sea Estate”, turned out to be friends of Judy and Dan on “Quest” ! Small world of boating – we knew they were headed north.
Dockage here is 30 dollars plus 5 dollars for power, but no water! The deal of the century!! We usually pay anywhere from $75 a night to $125.00 a night. We hooked up the power, changed and went in search of crab cakes!
This is a one of a kind very special place, which, if you told me about I would say – you’ve got to be kidding! First off, there is no cell service, no wifi, no ATM, and the stores and restaurants close at 5 pm.  The main method of transportation is via golf cart; although there are a few cars and a few pickups on the island. The whole island is dry, so you can’t get any wine to go with the fabulous crab cakes!
We walked around the whole town and the first things we noticed were the cats – cats everywhere, apparently there are 500 people that live here and about 400 cats!  These cats are not afraid of dogs and just basically hold their ground and stare you down.  We had read on the internet about Hilda Crockett’s Family Style crab restaurant and decided to give it a go. We sat with the fuel barge captain and his daughter from Crisfield. He said that these were the best crab cakes on the Chesapeake and seeing as he delivers fuel up and down the bay I believe him. They were excellent, as was the corn pudding, cole slaw and pound cake. We ordered a few cakes for the freezer! After lunch we went on a walk about around town.  Several homes have family graves right in the front yard.  Everyone is very friendly and they speak with a dialect that I found difficult to understand unless I listened very carefully.  Even the dogs were all friendly; we had a little dog follow us all the way to the beach.
When we got back to the marina Garth had to go find Mr. Parks to pay him. He asked if we would like a tour of the island – YES. Off the three of us went in his golf cart and he took us on the grand tour – he said hello to everyone, to all the men he said “Hi George” and they all answered  back “Hi George” he called one women Georgette ! I don’t know??  Not sure if his eye sight is failing or if he had been nipping at the bottle but his driving left a lot to be desired – even in a golf cart. We came very close to people, other carts and even a building at one point.  When we got back to the marina we joined “Blue angel” and “Sea Estate” on the dock for cocktails, alias docktails. Mr. Parks came out and entertained us for quite a while. The main point of all his stories was that the good people are all in Tangiers and the bad ones in Cape Charles. He is indeed a character!
There is a great story about him and the island in the magazine “Sounding” Sept 2010 issue page 32, not sure if it is on-line (no internet tonight) but if you can find it it is worth a read.
Right now on one side of the boat I hear a cat fight and on the other I hear fish jumping!!
Tomorrow we are off to Soloman Island. We have to be up early cause we are blocking everyone 
else from getting out!

Some type of fishing

Approaching Park's Marina

Crab pots everywhere

Cool garbage cans

Main Street 

Did you say Crab cakes!

Graveyards in the front yard

Beach Bums

Mr. Parks telling stories

Click on the link above to read the article about the island, it is very interesting.