“For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea.”
– e.e. cummings
Common Terns, Forster’s Terns, and Black Skimmers
Before we even arrived at Tangier Island, I had decided I wanted to take a kayak tour of the island. Dirt Man kind of laughed at the idea of me on a kayak. I think he was visualizing me flipping it! When he realized I was serious, he was all for it.
The Tangier History Museum had kayak and canoe rentals. I thought the sign we had read the day before said it was free and to just leave a donation at the museum. Dirt Man insisted that I had misinterpreted it and that we had to wait for the museum to open to check out the equipment. We waited for a half an hour, and there were no hours of operation posted at the museum. I asked a passerby who thought it was open all the time. Dirt Man decided we should go read the sign again….ends up I was right. It was an honor system.
We checked out both the canoes and kayaks. I chose a flat bottomed, two person kayak for two reasons. First I figured the flatter bottom would keep it from tipping as easily as the other ones. The second reason was that I was depending on Dirt Man for oaring action and his navigation skills. See, I am much smarter (and devious) than I sometimes appear! We started out. I was amazed at how easy it was. I decided then and there that when we got home I wanted to purchase a kayak to go boating every weekend. Now, of course, we’d only paddled about twenty feet from the pier when I made this proclamation! About twenty more feet and I felt like my arms were being ripped from my body! Needless to say, it didn’t take long to realize that paddling was hard work!
Proof That I DID Help Row
Dirt Man placed me in the front of the boat which made me captain. However, he shouted the orders, and I tried my best to decipher and obey them. Now, I have to say that I do understand English, and yes, I could understand the Elizabethan English (derived from their Cornish ancestors, Celtic) spoken on the island. But Dirt Man lingo was something I have never caught onto in the thirty years I’ve known him. It could have something to do with rights and lefts. Sometimes, he meant for me to only use that oar and other times he meant for me to go that way….and then, he even confused his own right and left. Yes, he came close to getting whacked upside the head with my oar, but I really needed his muscles to make it back to shore; so I managed to refrain myself!
Damaged Crabpots That Washed Ashore
Dirt Man had managed to leave our map in our room and since the museum had not yet opened, we were winging it without a map. We started our tour at the Canton Gut (creek) behind the Tangier Museum. I think we ended up doing both the orange and yellow trails. We paddled to the Fish Hook. We left at high tide which was to our advantage. On route we saw all kinds of birds. I am not that much of a bird person, but I really enjoyed seeing the nesting Ospreys and their young. I think the egrets are regal looking, especially when they do their one foot poses. We also saw terns, skimmers, herons, and clapper rails.
From the Fish Hook we could see the automated Tangier Light which was built on the foundation of the original Tangier Sound Lighthouse (1890-1961). Due to the expense of upkeep, the Coast Guard dismantled it in 1961. The beach was pristine. We were the only ones there at the time. We collected sea glass and driftwood. We didn’t disturb the bird areas.
Abandoned Tangier Lighthouse
We came back up the Main Gut. Mr. I Don’t Need A Map Because I Know Where I’m Going took us on a wrong turn. I complained that the water was getting shallow and we were going to get stuck. He insisted we were fine until we bottomed out (tide was running out quickly). We really did get stuck in the muck though he insists we did not. Put it this way, we had to push ourselves off with the oars. I call that being stuck! We scuttled our way back to the correct trail. Talk about exerting muscles I didn’t know I had! We did this a second time as well, although Dirt Man swears it was only once…my sore arms tell a different story! I really did paddle hard, but I had to rest my arms often. In all honesty, Dirt Man did most of the work, but I gave it all I had. It just happens that his physical capability is much stronger than mine. Ok, ok, I am extremely out of shape.
End Of The Fish Hook
We went under a total of six bridges. Did I mention that we actually had to limbo under two of them. It was that or be decapitated! I didn’t think I was going to be able to go low enough for the second bridge, and then I almost chopped Dirt Man’s head off when I swung my oar back.
View From Where We Beached Our Kayak
We headed on to the Main Harbor to check out the crab shacks and boats. Some man yelled across the water to another fisherman as we passed by and it about scared the you- know-what out of me! Dirt Man wanted to get a picture of a oyster boat, so we had to quickly maneuver around fishing boats, and as we crossed back over I feared we were going to be run over by the ferry. Remember we were in a tiny boat in comparison to the large vessels. The ferry had just unloaded and we had no way of knowing when he was going to take off and chances were high that he wouldn’t see us if he did. I prayed even harder than I paddled. We made it safely to the dock. I again claimed that I wanted to buy a kayak when we got back home. That was ten minutes before I got a charley horse all the way from my waste to my elbow on my right side. It was over in five minutes, and I still wanted to buy a kayak. For the next few days, I was sore in places I didn’t know existed…and still I want a kayak.
Beautiful Sunset To End A Day Of Kayaking
“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.”
– Jacques Cousteau