Archive for the ‘Fishing’ Category

DUCK BREAKFAST A LA CARTE’

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

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This is a true Eastern Shore duck tale, not a tall Eastern Shore duck tale.  But “breakfasting with friends” took on a whole new meaning for me down at the Bayford crab shacks in Nassawadox, VA recently. I had left home at first light, hoping to shoot a few photos of  some colorful puffy clouds reflecting over the confluence of the Chesapeake Bay and the Nassawadox Creek inlet at Bayford.  

But once I got there, what really ended up captivating me was a duck breakfast.  (Very different than breakfast atDSC_0735 Duck Donuts for those in Duck, NC  and Virginia Beach, who are addicted to those fabulous treats).  Dawn was just breaking as I pulled in. As it grew lighter, I noticed 2 ducks paddling steadily up the inlet towards the boat ramp. Arriving, they proceeded to walk directly up the ramp and onto the land, totally ignoring me.  They waddled, quack-quacking,  over to an old pier adjacent to the ramp in what I initially thought was just random meandering. But immediately 2 additional ducks popped up to greet them from a large crevice by the dock pilings, which apparently are a duck version of Air B’nB accommodations, emphasis on the “air”, as in very open air!

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 Then the 4 of them, like the group of old buddies they were, immediately turned back around, waddled down the ramp and straight into the water. These old  friends of a feather swam leisurely over to a nearby dock offering plenty of mud and barnacle-encrusted pilings and began to nibble around them, devouring what I assume was their idea of a delicious meal, probably bristle worm ceviche, served with a mud aioli and finished with chiffonade of eel grass.  Duck Breakfast a’ la carte!   Thereafter the sunrise, with soft pink glows, huge billowy clouds, vivid water reflections, everything I had come to see and photograph. Voila’, full daylight and off to my people breakfast.  Thankfully, no worms, mud or eel grass on that menu!

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Celebrating the Fourth of July, 2017 In Cape Charles, Virginia

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

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On July 3, 1776, John Adams told his wife Abigail that when Independence Day came, it should be celebrated with ” pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports… and Illuminations.” Then, voila’, on July 4,1776, the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence and as a country, we’ve never looked back ! Now, in 2017, on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, the historic little coastal town of Cape Charles, VA celebrated America’s 241st Independence Day with the very same traditions John Adams wished for… and more ! This year, the festivities kicked off at 10am with the traditional Parade, the best ever in my book, led by the Color Guard from the US Coast Guard Station Cape Charles.

 

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The Cape Charles Parade is always a marvelous combination of local pageantry, floats, banners, fire company trucks with air horns blasting a loud ” howdy”, antique tractors and cars, horses, kids on bikes, motorcycles, decorated golf carts, etc., from local organizations, clubs and individuals. They march enthusiastically down Bay and Mason Avenues, tossing candy, beads and even a few yellow rubber duckies to the appreciative spectators lining the streets cheering them on ! This year, however, the parade within the parade, the Golf Cart Parade, was truly amazing ! Golf cart entries were dressed to the nines, red, whites and blues galore, flags, balloons, Pom-poms, streamers, banners, signs, Uncle Sam top hats, creativity shone everywhere. Since they are street-legal in Cape Charles, many residents own electric golf carts and a little friendly competition among neighbors resulted in dozens and dozens of fantastic cart entries this year, all the better to enjoy the Parade !

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After the Parade, it was on to the arts and crafts tents and food vendors out on Bay Avenue by the beach. Lots of fun stuff to see and buy. Business was brisk at the Italian Ice stand and yummy aromas wafted from the taco tent and the shrimp po boy tent, with nearby hot dog and burger venders ladling on mustard and ketchup at a fast pace too. Down at the Gazebo, Mistress of Ceremonies, perennial favorite Trina Veber, announced all the Parade winners, including best golf cart float which celebrated the now-extinct Cape Charles ferry and best Novelty entry, awarded to Reid Diggs, who drove his boat-into-a-car conversion in the Parade.

 

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Next up on the events schedule, the “Guppie Challenge”, a fishing tourney for kids, held out on the Cape Charles Fun Pier and sponsored by New Roots. Seemed to be lots of entries, excited kids milling around the LOVE sign, waiting for parents to finish the sign ups. And right next door, the medical assistance tent in case anyone got hooked by their hook… or whatever ! Teams were registering for beach volleyball and the corn hole contest. ( If you’ve never seen Corn Hole played, it’s a pretty simple set-up, a wide tilted board with round holes cut through it, hence the name corn hole ). The object of the game is to toss little bean bags through the not-much-bigger-than-the-bean-bag holes. One of those things that sounds easy but in practice is complicated, no doubt a metaphor for life in these days. ) Out on the Gazebo, live music all day and into the evening, keeping everybody rocking and rolling through sunset and last light.

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My young great-grandkids love the fireworks on the 4th of July best of all. As soon as darkness starts to fall, it’s like a road trip — but instead of “are we almost there ?”, it’s “are they going to start soon? ” Meantime, I’m still fooling with camera settings, hoping to get a few good shots of the fireworks, which seems always to be a challenge. Suddenly, the first loud booms and the crackly sizzles of lacy sparklers. Then oohs and ahhs, the squeals of sheer delight, wide young eyes staring at the sky with amazement as brilliant colors and shapes streak upwards, illuminating the darkness, then fading, softly falling back towards earth. Each seemingly more beautiful than the one before, going on and on and on, until the spectacular Grand Finale, the always perfect conclusion to a marvelous 4th, a Cape Charles 4th !!

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Contemporary Home On Eastern Shore Virginia Waterfront Point

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

100_1363_0001Boaters, set your course for this impressive 3 bedroom, 3 and a half bath custom built contemporary home nestled into a 1.25 acre+/-partially wooded waterfront point near Cape Charles, VA  listed by Blue Heron Realty Co.  Priced at $799,000 and located in Franktown, VA, on the scenic Eastern Shore of Virginia, this single story home is on a quiet cul-de-sac in a tiny upscale waterfront hamlet. Sitting atop high banks, it offers gorgeous views of the clear blue waters of its colorful saltwater inlet from the Chesapeake Bay. The handsome dock with good boating water would provide the perfect home for your boat, with fast easy access out to the Bay for fishing or just a relaxed cruise.  Love kayaking ?   The pristine, calm inlet with its many prongs makes exploring by canoe or kayak a real pleasure.

 

 

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Exceptional construction, dramatic window package and an open floor plan with lots of natural light offer coastal living at its best. This unique home is truly a work of art starting with a bronze fountain featuring elegant blue herons which greets visitors at the front door created by famed Eastern Shore artist, William Turner. Lovely mosaic tiles by local artists throughout, including, in the foyer, an amazing marble mosaic reproduction of Vincent Van Gough’s “Starry Nights” by internationally known Eastern Shore tile company, New Ravenna.

 


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Interior details include elegant teak floors, custom cherry cabinets, granite kitchen and bathroom counters, amazing floor-to-ceiling custom windows, skylights, barrel ceiling and luxurious bathrooms. Everything from the custom details and the dramatic window package to the mature landscaping, trellises, many decks, hot tub and lovely in-ground swimming pool work carefully together to create a special synergy with the home itself, producing a truly inspiring waterfront haven. Only about 20 minutes to Palmer and Nicklaus signature golf and the sparkling sand beach in Cape Charles. This unique home definitely must be seen to truly appreciate. http://www.BlueHeronVa.com/boating_properties/

 

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HGTV NEW EPISODE OF “BEACHFRONT BARGAIN HUNT CAPE CHARLES” WILL RE-AIR ON MAY 21st

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

 

HGTV 205 TAKE TWO !!  TUNE IN !!   Blue Heron Realty is pleased to report that the 2nd national showing of the new Cape Charles Chesapeake Bay episode of HGTV’s popular “Beachfront Bargain Hunt” series featuring Blue Heron’s listings and Blue Heron agent, Eva Noonan, will re- air at 1 pm on Sunday, May 21st. Although it seemed to us that the premier showtime on April 2nd might never get here, (the actual filming took place early last fall ), that wait just served to heighten the anticipation all the more ! We are really proud as this is the second Home and Garden Network “Beachfront Bargain Hunt” program to feature Cape Charles, Blue Heron Realty listings and its agent, Eva Noonan, —a trifecta for our Small Town, Big Future !

 

These pictures are from the first Cape Charles episode, filmed in 2013, when I tagged along with the production crew for three days to document the filming of Eva and her clients, Jim and Jodi Outland, who are now enjoying their HGTV featured home as full- time Cape Charles residents. During my tag-along, I learned a couple of interesting things about filming a show like this: The 5-6 member production crew is very hardworking. And the hours are long– location set-ups start before 9am and the wrap-up for the day isn’t usually till 7 or 8pm. So having lots and lots of coffee available is absolutely essential to TV production ! Plus doing a mid-morning pre-order for a delicious noonish to-go lunch for the crew definitely must not be forgotten. ( Like the Army, a film crew travels on its tum- tum ! )

 

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Hopefully these photos give you a little feel for the considerable time and effort that goes into producing these popular real estate shows. We loved seeing just which leisure activities and new little nooks and crannies of the Eastern Shore the producers chose to include in this second show. Love surprises ! So tune in May 21st  to discover  for yourself which Eastern Shore homes Eva’s new clients considered and which very special home they fell in love with. ( If you can’t watch on May 21st, check out future schedules as HGTV will likely re-run the show a few more times. Better still, just remember to set your DVR.)

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Located In Oyster, VA, This Cozy Waterview Cottage Is Ready For Lots Of Summer Fun 2017 !

Friday, May 5th, 2017

 

Main ArielIf you’ve been searching for a cute little getaway cottage with waterviews, this  cozy and cute 2 bedroom, 1 bath seaside bungalow located on Virginia’s Eastern Shore in the tiny fishing village of Oyster, VA could be really perfect !  Perched on a knoll overlooking the quaint harbor and priced at just $199,000, it has recently been throughly renovated– new paint, new carpet, new Trane HVAC system, Rinnai water heater, appliances and more. Early risers,  savor your first cup of morning joe watching the sun rise above the shimmering salt waters.  The large covered porch is the perfect place to  relax  and unwind, overlook sleepy Oyster harbor and enjoy watching the boats go by. What could be more fun than a big porch, a comfy lounge chair, a book, a tangy breeze and a cold glass of iced tea spiced with ever-changing views of blue waters and sky ?

 

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Or launch your own boat at the Oyster boat ramps across the harbor and cruise the inlet and out towards the Atlantic Ocean to some of the very best fishing on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.  Flounders beware !  This is a great location —  tiny Oyster is only about 10 minutes from the soft sand beach in Cape Charles as well as its 2 marinas, Palmer and Nicklaus golf courses, restaurants, shops, art galleries, etc. Good vacation rental potential too. Grab your flip-flops, move right in, this terrific  little cottage is ready for you to enjoy lots of summer fun, 2017 and beyond.

 

 

 

 

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Contemporary Eastern Shore Virginia Waterfront Home On Dramatic Point For Sale

Saturday, June 22nd, 2013
Aerial view of contemporary Eastern Shore VA waterfront home near Jamesville VA

Aerial view of this lovely waterfront home on the Virginia Eastern Shore

The very first thing you notice coming up the driveway of this like-new contemporary-feel Chesapeake Bay area waterfront home for sale near Jamesville, VA on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, is the water itself.  Located on the very high banks of a dramatic waterfront point and boasting  water on three sides, it offers the great beauty of having  blue saltwater all around you.  Three bedroom, three bath, this lovely home was custom- designed for this unique property and nestles contentedly into the woods, blending seamlessly into its surroundings, looking for all the world as though it just grew naturally up from the land instead of being the result of meticulous planing and construction.

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Light filled great room with walls of windows and dramatic stone fireplace

Once inside,  you are immediately struck by how all the glass just brings the outdoors right on in. The spacious 2 story foyer offers immediate views through the hallway and the great room right out to the waters beyond, azure points and silver sparkles dancing in the sun, peeking through the trees. This truly is a lovely home, filled with natural light, with an open, airy floor plan, the kind of home that just feels relaxing and natural, comfortable in its own skin so to speak, where it would be easy to be inspired every day by the beauty of the landscape. Because creating a casual and comfortable coastal lifestyle were key requirements when designing this home, instead of  a traditional formal living room and dining room configuration, a great room as created, with walls of windows and sliding doors out to the wraparound deck  organized into two distinct conversation areas.  The first overlooks the eastern side of the deck  and offers  glimpses of  the inlet as it curves around as well as the backyard boat dock.   Oriented towards the full-wall length hearth and fireplace,  the second conversation  area is oriented towards the  point itself and the gorgeous long views of the broad blue waters that lead out to the Chesapeake Bay.

The kitchen,  well-equipped and sporting white counters and cupboards which contrast nicely with the earth-tone terra cotta floor tiles, offers a great work triangle for whipping up a favorite meal.  A little breakfast nook nestles into one corner of the kitchen, offering views of  shimmering  water  through the trees.  ( If you love birds, this home is truly a birdwatcher’s delight– in summer you’ll see lots of herons,egrets  and other wading birds,  ducks, geese and loons in the winter and  dozens of  varieties of  tiny songbirds warbling cheerfully from spring to fall, especially during migration seasons.)  Lots of  kitchen storage space for dishes, cookware, etc.  plus a large pantry for spices and food items as well as a little wet bar area  all  make entertaining in this home an absolute snap.  The window package in the kitchen is as well thought-out as those in the rest of the home, a full wall of windows fills the kitchen  with soft natural light throughout the day, opening  easily to be able to take advantage of  cool breezes off the water all season long.

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The sturdy backyard dock offers plenty of room for your boat and all your other water toys

A large  workshop area adjacent to the 2 car garage has plenty of room for all your special projects plus extra storage space as well.  And if a boat and kayaks are your main water toys, you’ll be well prepared to enjoy them.  A  large, sturdy backyard dock provides ample room for a good-sized power boat and kayaks too.  It’s just a short cruise down the inlet to access the Chesapeake Bay and some of its prime fishing and crabbing grounds are nearby. This time of year, as the waters in the Bay have warmed,  the fish are running,  the big fish chasing the little fish and the whole cycle begins once more, fertile grounds for this season’s  myriad fishing yarns about ” the big one that got away.”  So, all in all, this home is great  opportunity to own a home where everyday you can soak in that coastal feeling of leisurely living, in  your very own castle,  right at the water’s edge, on Virginia’s truly gorgeous Eastern Shore.

( Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134 Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo,VA. )

Lovely Single Story Eastern Shore Waterfront Home With Contemporary Flair For Sale

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

On the Eastern Shore,  lovely Virginia  waterfront homes  near the Chesapeake Bay are not unusual but many of those  homes are of a traditional style and the majority of them are two story,  albeit many with total living on the first floor.  But for the  growing number of  folks looking for a waterfront home in Virginia who are absolutely set on  acquiring a single story  home, this new listing could be just perfect.  One of the features important to many of our clients when looking for a  waterfront home is being able to open the front door and say “wow”  as they look  from the foyer,  across the living area and are immediately treated to a glorious view of  the water– this home gets a  ten- out- of- ten on that score  !

A few years ago,  this lovely 3 bedroom,  3  bath home was renovated  with three goals in mind–    1) opening up the floor plan to have larger, light-filled rooms and   2) creating  water and nature views from every possible angle and  3) adding an additional, more spacious master bedroom suite.   Definite success on every goal !  Walls of windows frame scenes of the sparkling blue waters,  several new sets of sliding glass doors facilitate an easy flow between the indoors and the outdoors and the spacious new master suite also offers more privacy as it is located on the opposite side of the home from the guest bedrooms.   During renovation, the  kitchen, highlighted by custom cabinets and granite countertops,  and dining room were opened up and combined into the living room.  The resulting great room is simply spectacular !   A large skylight  centered  in the main living area was added,  offering defused natural light which spreads  throughout the  entire great room.  The fireplace adds additional cheer. Hardwood in the great room transitions seamlessly to custom terracotta tile in the sunroom.

Outside, lots of great nooks for entertaining a group or just a best friend.  Located on a gentle knoll overlooking a colorful saltwater inlet from the Chesapeake Bay, one of my fav outdoor spots on this property is a little landing on the path down to the dock and boathouse.  It’s a tiny landing, just big enough for two Adirondack chairs. But it’s so close to the water and offers such a tranquil feeling that you want to just sit and relax in those chairs forever !  In addition to this little landing,  there is also a attractive flagstone patio and full-house length deck with a cozy separate little portion of deck which wraps around to the new master suite.  So—  lots of places to enjoy the outdoors which is great because our very mild climate allows for lots of outdoor activities during most of the year.  Lots of mature landscaping and bird-friendly shrubs attract a variety of  songbirds year-round and of course blue heron and other wading birds stroll the shoreline,  keeping a sharp eye out for a quick fishy snack. For boaters,  a dock with  large boat lift.  The boathouse, which is a rarity here, offers plenty of kayak storage for that tremendously popular sport, both  facilitate easy access to the Chesapeake Bay which is literally just around the corner. And for those who love fishing, a  real fishing hot spot dubbed  “The Cell”  is quite close by.  For gardeners, a large garden area with lots of colorful plantings, a veggie bed,  birdhouses galore and a cute potting shed is enclosed by a white picket fence, a real oasis of  natural serenity.  

For anyone looking for a gorgeous waterfront home featuring an open floorplan, top of the line materials and great indoor-outdoor entertaining potential, this home could suit to a T.  Check it out on in the “Boating Properties” section of the Blue Heron Realty Co. website at  http://www.blueheronva.com/property.php?print=propid=1253       ( Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134 Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA )

Little City By The Sea- Lunch In Wachapreague, VA

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Wachapreague, Virginia, AKA  “Flounder Capitol of the World”,  AKA  “Little City By The Sea”, is also the home to  the  Island House Restaurant,  one of  Virginia Eastern Shore’s most picturesque waterfront dining spots.  Located on our seaside, along  the salty banks of  a deep inlet from the Atlantic Ocean,  not far from some colorfully named towns like Horsey, Painter and Modest Town, Wachapreague is a tiny Victorian-era  town.  Tiny as in population 232 per  the last census.  Although it’s  known East Coast-wide  for superb  fishing and its super-popular annual “Marlin Catch and Release”  tournament,  for my husband,  its main claims  to fame  are  the fabulous crabcakes and elegantly presented , fresher than fresh, soft shell crabs served at the Island House.

Which brings us to last Sunday, a  sunny and warm but not too warm day, perfect for a little drive and a late lunch.  And  hubby had a hankering,  a hankering that he felt could only be satisfied by a  sauteed lightly in butter,  aromatic with “Old Bay” spice,  flecked with tiny pieces of chopped parsley,  served only when golden brown,  delicious to the very last morsel, big fat crabcake from the Island House.  Served with  the crunchiest coleslaw ever, fresh green and purple cabbage sliced paper-thin,  their creamy house slaw dressing drizzled on top, self-toss at the table,  making their coleslaw the best  around these parts.  And who was I to deny such a hankering,  I who could so easily envision some of their  sweet potato wedges,  deeply orange, sprinkled lightly with sugar, an appetizing  aroma  wafting up from a  smidgen of cinnamon  ?    Yep, let’s do it.

The sea and seafood and the visitors who come for  same are  the lifeblood of Wachapreague, thus the little marine-oriented businesses you pass driving in on Main Street– the  bait and tackle shops, a detached garage converted to a colorful ocean-going kayak  shop,  a couple of  bed and breakfasts,  a quaint little general store, decorative decoys painstakingly handcarved. Down the little side streets,  a mixture of Victorian homes and traditional style cottages,  some for sale.  And along the shoreline facing Atlantic Avenue,  a busy marine railway, a large public boat ramp, a big private marina,  the smaller Town marina,  the weathered cedar-sided Coast Guard station and VIMS, the renown Virginia Institute of Marine Science,  which has pioneered so many of the state-of- the- art  clam and oyster aquaculture practices used not just in Virginia but nationwide.

And of course, smack-dab on  the inlet’s shores stands the  Island House Restaurant, tall and proud, sporting weathered cedar shingle siding, ready to delight the senses.  And not just taste but sight, smell and feel.  An al fresco lunch on one of  its multi-level waterfront decks yields not just a delicious meal but a chance to bask in the sun, soft and tangy sea breezes tickling across the skin,  fish jumping and  geese honking as they head down the inlet, boats passing to and fro as they return to or launch from the boat ramp,  shorebirds soaring and calling nearby, the  faint glitter of sand on Cedar Island far away.   We especially love the sight of  boats in the distance as they travel the narrow channel which winds through the great swaths of deep green marshland,  creating the optical illusion that  they are not really floating in water but  instead actually glide  along on the  grass itself.  This is  because, as you gaze towards the horizon, you can no longer see the blue inlet waters, only the great salt meadows of  fertile  green marsh grasses stretching on and on and on,  a truly beautiful sight, and as   boats  head back in from the Ocean they seem to be just sliding across the grass, white on green,  towards  port.  But enough about fish and geese,  boats and marshgrass,  lunch was served,  time to savor those crabcakes and sweet potato wedges.

(Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134  Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA)

A Guided Tour of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel Which Connects Virginia’s Eastern Shore to Mainland Virginia

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Tuesday, September 6, 2011, promised to be a memorable day what with the tour by our US Coast Guard Auxiliary Cape Charles 12-02 Unit of one of the great engineering marvels of the modern world,  the amazing  17 mile long  Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel complex. Our group gathered at the north end of this transportation wonder which  is so important to the economy of the Eastern Shore of Virginia as it connects our area,  which is the southern tip of the DELMARVA peninsula,  to the mother ship,   mainland Virginia.   There we all were ushered into the wood panelled meeting room of the complex’s Board of Directors and seated in plush leather swivel chairs at an immense, polished mahogany conference table where we were warmly greeted by Mr. Jeff Holland, the executive director of the complex and his assistant Paige Addison.  Jeff took great pains to explain to us the history of the Bridge-tunnel from its inception all the way through its construction, carefully illustrating with a slide show its ground-breaking engineering.  As well, we learned about its ongoing maintenance, its operation, considerations for future improvements, its funding and security issues. As one who has driven across this complex countless times, even during extreme weather events and electrical outages, and even having been rescued by their emergency personnel, I was amazed by the quality and quantity of new information I gathered.

Jeff Holland, Executive Director of the CBB-T, points out the Thimble Shoals Channel of the bridge-tunnel to Milton Hickman, son of a former longtime director of the complex.

Our group was then given toll passes to allow us to travel south over the bridges and through both tunnels to park on the first island near the restaurant and visitor’s center.  Jeff took time to point out the massive construction of the islands and the bridge trestles, and pointing out to us the shipping channels that the underground tunnels span. Observation points on the island afford visitors and travelers an incredible perspective of the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay where it meets the Atlantic Ocean. Also, there is a fishing pier that has special lighting underneath that attracts schools of bait fish to the surface, making the pier a great attraction for fishermen casting from the pier above them.  While we were observing this incredible scene, Jeff pointed out to us a very special ship making her way east through the Thimble Shoals Channel.  She is the USS New York, a US Navy warship, which was built with steel salvaged from the site of the World Trade Center after its destruction on September 11, 2001.  How poignant that we should be touring this facility just a few days before the tenth anniversary of that event  just as  she was passing by.

USS New York passes through the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel on her way to the tenth memorial anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

Next, our group was lead into the garage bay of the island’s ventilation and maintenance building where we were informed by the director of safety, Mr. Jim Davis, of  how the public is protected by their  extensive traffic safety procedures and response to breakdowns and accidents. It seemed that every conceivable emergency has been considered and planned for,  which spoke so highly of the professionalism and dedication of the employees of the Bridge-tunnel.

 

Traffic Safety Director Mr. Jim Davis, in front of fishing pier, explains the complex's focus on safety.Inside the ventilation and control b uilding on the first island.

After a most interesting, as well as reassuring, explanation of the Chespeake Bay Bridge-Tunnels traffic safety and engineering standards, our group was then ushered into the ventilation area where we got our exercise for the day by descending five stories down to the level of the underwater/underground tunnel crossing beneath the Thimble Shoals Channel.  It was explained to us that the tunnels were engineered to allow for open shipping channels into the world’s largest naval base in Norfolk, VA, which could be especially  critical in a time of war.  A bridge could be destroyed and thus block such channels, but not the underground tunnels which would always be open for the Navy’s ships.   Mr. Tee Wells, a superintendent of the facility, escorted us through a steel door in the thick concrete walls that lead us onto the sidewalk in the Thimble Shoals tunnel. The noise of the traffic was amplified and reflected by the tunnels walls,  especially loud when an eighteen wheeler passed by.

Standing on the walkway next to traffic in the Thimble Shoal tunnel.

Re-climbing and catching our breath, our group re-entered the ventilation building with a big sigh of relief.  And then we climbed one more story up where we could walk above the tunnel’s traffic lanes in the ventilation shafts. Ventilating the tunnels is essential to removing the carbon monoxide produced by the traffic and the huge fans exchange the air every few minutes.  Up in the ducts above the tunnels, the space is pitch black dark  but through the vents in the ceiling, we could watch the traffic passing below us!

Finishing our tour of the ventilation works, we then entered the secured control room where an experienced operator is on duty 24 hours a day, all year round.  The operator has at his command a dozen monitors that give him a view of all areas of the tunnel’s roadway,  the ventilation buildings and the parking lots on the island. There we were given an exciting overview about  the complex’s  very high security standards and abilities.  Let’s just say that the war on terror is being fought right here at home and that  this world class transportation facility is right in sync  with detailed guidelines and high standards of terrorism awareness and facility protection.  And after learning so much about the operations of the  Bridge-tunnel complex,  I shall  definitely feel  even more  safe each and every time I cross this increadible engineering achievement.

Oyster “Buy-Boat” Reunion A Big Hit in Cape Charles, Virginia For The Town’s 125th Anniversary

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

A wonderful example of Chesapeake Bay maritime know-how!

The first weekend of August this eleventh year of the third millenium proved to be truly memorable for Cape Charles residents and visitors alike.  Jam-packed with activities that began the month-long celebration of our historic Town’s 125th anniversary,  there was something for everyone of all ages to enjoy, including open house tours of several of  Cape Charles’  beautiful historic homes for sale.
The Harbor of Refuge of Cape Charles is,  of course,  no stranger to working watercraft of the Chesapeake Bay. Its first 60 years of service as a transportation hub for the railroad and steamship industries attracted many hundreds of Chesapeake Bay workboats such as log canoes, skipjacks, bugeyes and deadrises that worked the plentiful and famous oyster reefs of the Bay.   Unfortunately,  since the late 1950’s,  the oyster populations in the Bay have declined substantially due to over-harvesting of the resource and decimation by an oyster virus.  Slowly but surely, these wooden workhorses of the Bay have fallen prey to abandonment and rot until there are very few examples of these splendid watercraft left afloat.

A tall bow helps these heavy boats plow through the steep swells of the Chesapeake Bay.

No one wants to glorify the overfishing that in large part caused the decline of this valuable fishery,  the oyster,  a “keystone” species of the Chesapeake Bay watershed but appreciation of the design and construction of these historic wooden watercraft is part of the preservation of the Eastern Shore’s  rich nautical heritage. ( In fact, the not-so-humble oyster was so important to the Shore that over on the Seaside, less than 10 minutes from Cape Charles,  sits the quaint little  town of  Oyster, Virginia.  Traditionally,  these “buy- boats”  cruised the waters of the Bay, buying oysters and clams,  dredging for oysters and in general hauling lumber, farm produce and other products from the Eastern Shore to market.  Historians believe that there are maybe thirty of these  “buy-boats”  left in the Chesapeake Bay.  Another that is still known to be afloat is in Honduras in Central America of all places.   A  fleet of twelve buy-boats from as far away as the Sassafras River arrived in the Cape Charles  harbor as a culmination of their weeklong annual cruise reunion.  This is the first time they have visited Cape Charles, as the Town has now completed the installation of  new floating docks which will  accomodate fleets such as this.

The ship’s wheel where the captain steers these heavily laden craft safely into port.

The fleet of buy-boats arrived Thursday afternoon and Cape Charles’ Harbormaster Smitty Dize and his hardworking crew were prepared to tie them up on B dock where they could all be observed together by the hundreds of eager fans awaiting their arrival here.  As Blue Heron Realty Co. is an avid supporter of efforts to revitalize the Town of Cape Charles,  we had signed up to sponsor the first Cape Charles Harbor Boat Docking Competition scheduled to take place Sunday afternoon and one of the highlights of the buy-boat reunion here.  So we were invited to the VIP party Thursday evening at the harbor and allowed very easy access to all the buy-boats and their owners, captains and crew.

I was readily invited aboard the buy-boats for first-hand tours, their captains proudly displaying for us fans of Bay Chesapeake maritime heritage their beautifully restored and maintained boats. Pictures really cannot do justice to the beauty and magnitude of these incredible boats. It was more than obvious that owning and maintaining one of these craft is a real sacrifice of time, labor and finances, and the owners that I met expressed without reservation their generous attitude of stewardship in preserving an increasingly rare example of Chesapeake Bay maritime know-how.

 

The Smith Island Crab Skiff

Friday of that special celebratory weekend brought our first full day of public visitation on these historic watercraft.  Hundreds of new visitors to Town were attracted by this display and to tour some of the beautiful historic homes for sale in Cape Charles.  That night the local band “Quadpod” entertained the crowd and plenty of good, homegrown food was prepared and served.  The next day, Saturday, was anticipated by all as one of the highlights of our month long anniversary celebration with a parade through town by the Shriners and our county fire departments. Then that afternoon, we cruised down to the docks to watch the Smith Island Crab Skiffs Association race around a marked course in the outer harbor.  Now that was some excitement to see these wooden skiffs, hand-built by their owners, no more than 13′  long and powered by 20 hp lawn mower engines,  flying around the course and even capsizing in the water!  Saturday evening brought a beautiful sunset over the horizon of the Chesapeake Bay and we were again entertained late into the night with a live band with everyone looking  forward to the boat docking competition the  following day.    (Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134  Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA)