Saturday, September 17, 2011

the Marshtump Cafe, the Transquaking River

The eye in the sky satellite is of little use today with heavy cloud cover over much of Chesapeake Bay, but I have no doubts that the silt is moving south.  I've decided to avoid the main part of the Bay, exploring Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds and a few rivers to the east.  We've sailed past a lot of the places in the past, never stopping to look around.  As I look over the charts and google earth I find I'm pleasantly surprised by the new sailing grounds.  

Going north from Tangier Sound the Nanticoke River and Fishing Bay have caught my eye, two bodies of water surrounded by marshes, wildlife refuges and not much else.  Fishing Bay (let's hope they call it that because of the great fishing) is a wide, shallow bay that would offer several good anchorages and a pristine shoreline.  Depths are marked at mostly three and four feet, plenty of water for Spartina.  At the very north end is the Transquaking River, a river worth visiting just for the name.  Here is a map showing some of the area.

The Nanticoke River, with deeper waters than Fishing Bay, has wildlife refuges on the western shore and a couple of communities, Nanticoke and Bivalve, on the eastern shore.  There is not much information about the villages available on the web.  Each has a marina, Nanticoke has a boat ramp.  What else is there?  I don't know.  I might sail in and find out.

South of Tangier Sound I would like to visit Pocomoke Sound.  Bruce and I sailed across the southern edge of Pocomoke Sound last spring on our way from Onancock to Tangier Island.  And I was on the western edge of the Sound when I visited Great Fox Island in 2007, above, on my first cruise with Spartina.
Pocomoke Sound separates Maryland from Virginia, you can see the state line running across the water in the sat photo below.  Apparently there was a history of fighting over the fishing and oystering grounds in the area in the 1700's.  Years ago I read The Oyster Wars of Chesapeake Bay and, though I don't remember the specifics of the book, this area had to be one of the main battle grounds for the war.

Saxis is the only community on Pocomoke Sound.  I have never been there by land or water, so that is a place I would like to visit.  From google earth it reminds me of the villages of Tangier and Smith Islands, a crabbing community with a working harbor, a church, rows of shedding tanks for soft shell crab and a scattering of homes.  And a restaurant - The Marshtump Cafe.  What a great name.  It sounds like the setting for a short story.  The cafe, which appears to be in or next to a crab picking house, is definitely on my list of places to visit.

I had forgotten about the oyster wars book, recalling it only as I wrote this post.  I just went to the book shelf and was very happy to find it there, covered with a thin layer of dust.  I had read it years ago, before Spartina, before ever sailing on the Bay.  I don't recall the specifics of the book, it may as well be a book I have never read.  I'll take it along with me on the trip, it will be fun to read about the history as I sail over the traditional oyster grounds of the Bay.

The trip is a week away with just one day off from work to get ready.  That will be a busy day, a fun day.


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