October 24, 2003
The Atlantic was another millpond today as we headed
south. Kay's luck keeps holding out. It seems like every time we head out to
sea, the mighty waves just lay down flat almost like she's willed it that way.
We squirreled our way out through twisty Chincoteague Inlet on a falling tide,
waved goodbye to its handsome sea buoy and turned Kibon over to modern
technology for the twenty plus miles to Wachapreague Inlet where we hoped
to take another stab at the Virginia Inside Passage. Chincoteague and
Wachapreague are about the only inlets on the Virginia shore that are do-able
without years of local knowledge. But, even so, entering Wachapreague on an
almost dead low tide, we asked a homecoming fisherman to guide us through the
mud flats. We both bumped a few times, but he got us through a maze of "channels"
until we reached the village of Wachapreague and tied up at Capt. Zed's bait
& tackle, marina and restaurant alongside our helpful fisherman. The
marina was named after Z. R. "Zed" Lewis II who was a charter boat
captain. It was a
couple of hours before suppertime, so we walked the town... and what a
delightful town it is!
We stopped and asked store-owners, post office workers, and locals and found that Wachapreague has been around for a long time. The
original Wachapreague Hotel, a beautiful 3 story Victorian hotel which was built
in the early 1900s was part of the
tourist trade for folks who came to spend the hot summer months on the cool
beaches. Another major industry was, and still is, fishing. Head
boats took the visiting fishermen out to the Banks, while the locals brought in
their own catch to sell to the
Peninsula and Mainland fish houses. We had
dinner at the Island House Restaurant. The original
restaurant was built on Cedar Island by A. H. G. Mears, but it was destroyed in
the storm of August, 1933. Cedar Island is the
first island that divides the ocean from the inland waterways. Only five
or six houses are on that beach which is now accessible by a road to the
mainland several miles north. Capt. Zed's son Z. R. "Randy" Lewis
III rebuilt the Island House Restaurant on the mainland in
1978. It, too, was destroyed, this time by fire, in August 1992.
Today's restaurant was rebuilt on the footprint of the former Island
House. It was modeled after the old Parramore Island Life Safety Station
which was also one of the structures on the outer banks.
We walked past the Wachapreague Motel, a single story structure, circa 1970,
which replaced the Victorian Hotel. The Town Hall is only open on
Thursday from 4 to 6 pm. We tried to visit them to obtain some current
material about the town. There is a gasoline station, a general store, an
art store, a number of businesses within homes, and the usual number and variety
of churches. The homes in the center of the town (and that's as far as we
got) all are from the late 1800s and early 1900s. We had dinner at the
Island House -- very good and very fresh seafood. We had watched the tail
end of fishermen delivering their catch earlier in the afternoon, and the end
result at the restaurant was delicious.
I don't like to mention problems, but I think anyone who
decides to take this trip needs to know the facts. We paid $1 per foot to
stay at the Chincoteague municipal dock for 14 days. We had no electricity. We did have a wonderful dockmaster who checked our boat
daily. I asked Randy at the Wachapreague Marina what his rates
were. They were the same $1 per foot per day, but the weekly rate for our
size boat was only $150. A big difference from our stay in Chincoteague.
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