|Port Isobel as seen from the beach to the east.|
We arrived in Crisville, Maryland about noon and loaded our gear aboard the Loni Carol II, a 40-foot Chesapeake Bay workboat for the journey to our island home for the next four days. Since few of us knew each other prior to that day, introductions were made as the Loni Carol II plowed through the Bay during our 45 minute voyage to Port Isobel. Arriving at the dock, teamwork quickly took over as we unloaded our personal gear and food/supplies for the four day stay. After a brief orientation we signed-up for our meal preparation/cleanup shifts and set out to explore the area. Many of us hiked the trail through a stand of bamboo and across the marsh to a small strip of beach... learning quickly that the flies were both numerous and ferocious. After dinner there are get acquainted activities and discussions about challenges facing the Chesapeake Bay.
|Sunrise at Port Isobel|
After breakfast on our first full day at Port Isobel we signed up for various repair and maintenance jobs in desperate need of attention. There were trails (laced with poison ivy) to clear and widen; painting of decks, rails, and door/window frames; gardens to weed and mulch; fire pits to build; and much more. Breaking into teams, everyone quickly found the necessary tools and supplies and got straight to work.
|Repairing and painting a deck and railing.|
Working closely with others, conversations became lively as we got to know our news friends better. "Where do you live?" "What do you do for a living?" "Why did you pay to come to this CBF work and learn adventure?" This activity was apparently a first for the CBF and was modeled after "volunteer vacations" of the Sierra Club. For two days our mornings and about an hour after lunch would be dedicated to making Port Isobel a more attractive and safer place for students and teachers who visit to learn more about the environment, history, and culture of this national treasure.
|Cleaning and mulching gardens.|
After another great dinner (chicken stir fry) we met and had a conversation with Tom Horton, who for over 30 years, covered the environment and Chesapeake Bay for the Baltimore Sun and has authored numerous articles and books about life and culture in the region. Homespun and a great story teller, Horton brought us closer to life and loss in Tangier and Smith Island.
Friday we continued with our assigned jobs... and some new ones... anticipating our afternoon trip to Tangier. Walking the narrow streets, sampling the ice cream, visiting the museum, and chatting with locals gave us just a taste of the very different life of the people of Tangier. Leaving Tangier, we set a course for the crab pots we'd set 24 hours earlier. Our catch yielded about 100 keepers and CBF staff bought another half bushel plus some soft shell crabs and the evening's feast featuring a crab pickin' was on!! One thing was clear about this trip... we ate well... and so did the bugs!
|The haul from our crab pots.|
|Sunset at Port Isobel|
After a couple hours of cleaning the buildings and grounds, and taking the obligatory group picture, we loaded our gear, recycling, and trash on the Loni Carol II and headed for the marina at Crisfield. The waves and chop were a bit higher than on our trip out so the ride was a bit rougher, wetter, and longer.
|Rivers from 6 states and D.C. drain into a|
tidal basin that averages just 21' in depth.
Perhaps the greatest lesson is that, in restoring and saving the Chesapeake Bay, as in climate change and all our environmental time bombs, we are all in the same boat. We inhabit the same earth, drink the same water, and breath the same air. Individually we can make a difference by being responsible children of Mother Earth and never, ever taking her for granted in our daily lives. Collectively... by working together and putting aside selfish motivations... we can solve all of these challenges and many more to come.