I found myself out of touch on an island out of time Friday and Saturday. Work had me hopping the morning ferry out of Onancock to Tangier Island
I have visited Tangier about a dozen time in the last decade or two, sometimes for work and sometimes aboard Spartina on Tangier Sound sails. (For the record, on the neighboring island, Port Isobel, I dealt with a science type who used the word "spartina" when talking about the marsh grasses along the shore. He pronounced spar-TI-na. Just saying....)
The island is about crabs. Hard crabs, soft shell crabs, catching crabs with pots or by scraping the eel grass. Above is a crab that came is as a peeler - a crab about to shed its shell - but was not a peeler and went back into the creek to live another day.
Above are soft shells, having been caught as peelers then "busted," the local term for shedding their hard shells. They are boxed and chilled, still alive, ready for market.
Tangier, like neighboring Smith Island, is an island out of time. A thick brogue is spoken by the islanders, one that is said to date back to old English. The people live a simple, traditional life, working to the rhythm of the water and seasons. It is also an island out of touch, in a good way. No cell phone connectivity, very little access to the internet. Kind of nice for a couple of days.
The island, sadly, is eroding away. There is talk of jetties and costly efforts to save what land is left. There are studies being done, studies that could take years and producing solutions that could take decades. Ask any islander and they will tell you they don't have years to figure this out. The consensus is that they have one more hurricane, and that could be the end of Tangier Island. In more ways than one, it is an island out of time.