Virginia’s Chesapeake Heritage – Reedville, Tangier Island, and Onancock
May 25–28, 2018 (Memorial Day Weekend)
A rare opportunity to visit three vibrant communities bordering the Chesapeake Bay — Reedville on the Virginia mainland, isolated Tangier Island in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay, and Onancock on Virginia’s Eastern Shore — and to experience their deep, continuing connections to the Chesapeake. You will enjoy:
- Expert instruction, geared to your interests and level of experience.
- Tour designed to create a fun and interactive environment that enhances your individual experience.
- Experienced location guidance.
- Feedback, image critiques, and helpful suggestions throughout the trip.
- Instruction on image processing as requested.
- All transportation from Reedville to Tangier Island, between Tangier Island and Onancock, and return from Tangier Island to Reedville.
- Transportation to and from activities on Tangier Island, as well as a guided tour of Tangier Island.
- Sunset cruise around Tangier Island.
- Transportation in Onancock.
- Special admission to Ker Place and the Eastern Shore Watermen’s Museum and Research Center. These sites are normally closed on Sunday when we will be in Onancock, but both have graciously agreed to open their doors to accommodate our visit.
- Lodging (three nights) —
- May 25 — Reedville — Bay Motel Virginia
- May 26 and 27 — Tangier Island — Hilda Crockett’s Chesapeake House.
- Breakfasts and Dinners at Hilda Crockett’s Chesapeake House on Tangier Island.
- Rare opportunities to observe life on and around Virginia’s Chesapeake and to appreciate its strong links to the past.
Limited to 6 Participants
- $1,200 Early Bird registration (ends January 31, 2018).
- $1,750 Standard registration (effective February 1, 2018).
- Single Supplement — $600 additional (extremely limited — only two available; book early if desired; single supplement guarantees a private bath in Tangier).
- A deposit of $500 will secure your reservation, with the balance due March 1, 2018.
To register, click here:
We will visit several historic ships, including a replica of the John Smith Barge used during his early explorations of the Chesapeake Bay, two vessels on the National Register of Historic Places (the deck boat Elva C and skipjack Claud W. Somers), the fully-restored purse boat Spirit of Reedville, and will learn about the hard work and conditions faced by those who seek to make a living from the oysters, crabs, and fish found in the Chesapeake.
We will travel from Reedville to Tangier Island on the ferry Chesapeake Breeze, with narration throughout the 90-minute trip.
Tangier Island is home Virginia’s most isolated community, and retains strong links to traditional life on the Chesapeake. Residents still retain a distinctive accent traceable to Virginia’s Colonial era (YouTube has an interesting clip on this topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIZgw09CG9E). The entire island is in danger from erosion and the effects of global warming — at least two-thirds of Tangier Island and some nearby islands have already been lost, and climate scientists beleive that Tangier itself may be uninhabitable within as few as 20 years and almost certainly will have vanished entirely within 50 years. But today, it is still vibrant, filled with interesting sights, sounds, and tastes. Crabbing is the primary occupation of many residents, and Tangier regards itself the “soft-shell crab capital of the world.” Oysters are also raised and harvested in the area, creating another bond with the Chesapeake. We will have an opportunity to see some of the work of local watermen up close, including a visit to a local “fisherman’s shanty” to see the entire process used to harvest, hold, and process soft-shell crabs and learn first-hand from a waterman about the challenges of making a living from the Chesapeake. We will explore the island on foot, and by way of a custom “golf cart tour” (golf carts are the primary means of “mass transportation” on the island), and on the water during a sunset cruise. Photo ops will surround you throughout our stay. We will be staying at Hilda Crockett’s Chesapeake House, Tangier’s best-known and longest-running B-and-B.
We will make a day trip to Virginia’s Eastern Shore, traveling on the Joyce Marie II from Tangier to Onancock, known for its picturesque quality; the town contains a cohesive and architecturally-significant collection of buildings that represents various styles and vernacular forms from the late eighteenth through the twentieth centuries, and an extensive Historic District is included in the National Register of Historic Places. We will dock at the Onancock wharf, near the historic Hopkins & Brothers Store — From 1842 until 1966, Hopkins & Brothers was operated by four generations of the Hopkins family. Today, the old store has its own place on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register. We will shoot throughout the wharf and historic district, and we have secured special admission to historic Ker House (“the finest and most elaborate Federal mansion on Virginia’s Eastern Shore”) and the Eastern Shore Watermen’s Museum and Research Center.
This tour will give you a real sense of the lure of the Chesapeake Bay and its past and present links to those who make their living on and around the water. The sight, sounds, and taste you experience here cannot be found anywhere else.
Friday, May 25 — Reedville, Virginia
- 1:30 PM — The tour begins in Reedville, Virginia, at 1:30 PM, at the Reedville Fisherman’s Museum (504 Main Street, Reedville).
- Approximate Driving Distance and Time to Reedville — Check Apple Maps or Google Maps to determine accurate driving time from your location. Be sure to add time for any needed stops for gas and food.
- From Washington, DC — About 120 miles; 3 hours driving time.
- From Charlottesville — About 150 miles; 2 hours, 45 minutes driving time.
- From Newport News — About 85 miles; 2 hours driving time.
- From Richmond — About 90 miles; 1 hour, 50 minutes driving time.
- 4:45 PM — Check-in at Bay Motel Virginia (18754 Northumberland Hwy; 804-220-2027).
- 5:30 PM — Dinner — The Crazy Crab is a local favorite; you are free to dine elsewhere; dining options are limited in Reedville (we have a list of the better choices).
- After dinner — What better way to close the day than with home-made ice cream? A short walk from our dinner location is Chitterchats — premium hand-made ice cream “made one batch at a time, right here in Virginia.” You will also have time for a photo walk through the nearby Reedville historic district.
- Sunset is ~8:15 PM and twilight ends ~ 8:45 PM.
- Lodging — Bay Motel Virginia, Reedville.
Saturday, May 26 — Reedville and Tangier Island
- 8:00 AM — Breakfast at Newsome’s Restaurant, 235 Jessie Dupont Memorial Hwy, Burgess, VA; 804-453-9071. Newsome’s Restaurant is about a six-minute drive from our lodging. After breakfast, you’ll have time for a quick stop at our lodging to freshen up, pick up your gear, and check out.
- NLT 9:45 AM — Buzzard’s Point Marina (468 Buzzards Point Rd, Reedville; about a five-minute drive from our lodging). Board the Chesapeake Breeze for a narrated voyage to Tangier. Captain Justine Bowis is the fourth generation of his family involved in transporting passengers and freight between Tangier and the mainland. The Chesapeake Breeze weights in at about 90 tons, and is rated for 150 passengers.
- Sail to Tangier Island —
- Depart Reedville — 10:00 AM
- Arrive Tangier Island — by 11:45 AM
- We will be met at the dock by staff from our lodging, Hilda Crockett’s Chesapeake House. We will be transported to Chesapeake House in royal style — by golf cart, Tangier Island’s primary means of getting around. There are a handful of cars / trucks on the island, but golf carts and bicycles are far more common. We will check in at Chesapeake House, drop off our luggage, freshen up a bit, and head out to begin exploring Tangier Island.
- 12:30 PM — Lunch — Fisherman’s Corner Restaurant — Featured in Southern Living magazine.
- 2:00 PM — After lunch, we will take a narrated “golf cart tour” of Tangier Island. Fern Marshall Tyler, a Tangier native, will be our guide.
- 5:00 PM — Dinner — Hilda Crockett’s Chesapeake House
- After dinner — Dennis Crockett, a life-long resident of Tangier, will take us on a sunset cruise around Tangier Island.
Sunday, May 27 — Tangier Island and Onancock
- Early Breakfast — Hilda Crockett’s Chesapeake House
- NLT 7:15 AM — Board the Joyce Marie II. Captain Mark Crockett, a native of Tangier and a lifelong waterman, will pilot the Joyce Marie II to Onancock. Onancock is a small town on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, named “The Coolest Town in the South” by Budget Travel.
- Sail to Onancock —
- Depart Tangier Island — 7:30 AM
- Arrive Onancock — 8:30 AM
- We plan a photo walk around the wharf and throughout the Historic District, with a stop for a snack and a little relaxation at the midway mark.
- 11:30 AM — Lunch — We plan to eat at Mallards at the Wharf, located in the old Hopkins & Brothers Store. There is indoor and outdoor seating, right next to the water.
- 12:30 — We are done with walking — after lunch, we will have a private bus for the rest of our time in Onancock. Our first stop will be a private tour of Onancock’s most impressive historic home, Ker Place, an imposing Federal-period Georgian manse, built 1799–1803, and now restored to its original appearance (documented in the 1806 John Ker inventory). The Virginia Historical Landmarks Commission describers Ker Place as “the finest and most elaborate Federal mansion on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.” Ker Place is normally closed on Sunday, but is graciously opening to accommodate our visit.
- Our next stop will be the Eastern Shore Watermen’s Museum and Research Center; the Center is normally closed on Sunday, is also graciously opening to accommodate our visit. The museum focuses on the history, present, and future of the watermen of Virginia’s Eastern Shore and sharing the wonderful maritime history of the Shore.
- We will fill out our stay in Onancock with visits to additional scenic and historic sites as time permit.
- At 4:45 PM, our bus will deliver us to the Onancock Wharf to board the Joyce Marie II for our return to Tangier.
- Return to Tangier Island —
- Depart Onancock — 5:00 PM
- Arrive Tangier Island — 6:00 PM
- Dinner — Hilda Crockett’s Chesapeake House
- After dinner — Sunset and twilight photography on the Tangier beach.
Monday, May 28 — Tangier Island and Return to Reedville
- Breakfast — Hilda Crockett’s Chesapeake House
- 10:00 AM — Tour of a Tangier waterman’s “shanty.” Here, you’ll see the entire process used to harvest, hold, and process soft-shell crabs and learn first-hand from a waterman about the challenges of making a living from the Chesapeake.
- Lunch — At Lorraine’s, known for excellent crab cakes and other seafood. After our morning tour, it might be a good time to sample some soft-shell crabs, as close to the source as is possible.
- NLT 2:00 PM — Board the Chesapeake Breeze for the final leg of our trip, back to Reedville
- Return to Reedville —
- Depart Tangier Island — 2:15 PM
- Arrive Reedville — by 4:15 PM.
- The tour ends upon our docking at Buzzard’s Point Marina in Reedville.
- Meals in Reedville (dinner, May 25; breakfast; May 26);
- all lunches (Tangier and Onancock);
- alcoholic beverages (note: Tangier is a “dry” community).
Additional tour details will be provided upon registration.
All participants are strongly advised to purchase travel protection insurance. Travelinsurance.com offers many different options from various vendors and allows for product comparison.
Participant Information, Waiver, and Release – click here.
Healthy Packing List – click here.
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