Menhaden Nights…

No I have NOT misspelled Manhatten.(Yes I did.) We will not be there until June. Right now we are in the Menhaden Capital of the World. You don’t know what Menhaden are? Well that is why I am here, to help educate you.

We cast off from Norview Marina in Deltaville before 0800 and headed for the Chesapeake once again. Today the forecast was for fair winds until at least 1100 and maybe noon. After that things could turn nasty but we planned to run only up to Reedville, less than 25 miles away and be safely tied up long before then.

The trip up was uneventful. Three other looper boats were out there on the same track planning to go all the way to Solomons Island which was pretty ambitious for the slow speed they were turning. We turned off at the Wicomico Channel and wished them well. Later when things got ugly out there we wondered how they were handling it and if they had a hole to run into.

Fish traps abound in this area. At high water you can’t see the sticks and could run over one if you stray outside the markers.

A fuzzy picture of a duck blind. 

This is the Great Wicomico Light or what is left of it.

This is the Great Wicomico Light as it appeared prior to 1970. See what automation can destroy.

The channel up to Reedville is twisting and well protected. We soon sighted the Crazy Crab Restaurant, an award winning eatery in this area. We tied up directly behind the restaurant and if it were open today we could sit on the boat and chat with diners on the rear deck. An altogether great location. Within the hour we were joined by Raydiance, a boat we first met in Smithville on the Tenn-Tom. It is owned by Tom and Linda and they had guests David and Alice aboard. Tom is also a retired judge. When I went out to grab a line they did not recognize me with the whiskers. Tom has not cut his hair since they started in St. Louis and is looking a bit like an old rocker. Retired judges sure can change when they are freed from that bench.

We met a new friend on the dock. He angled up with a clear plastic bottle and set it on the dock and shook himself all over spraying water in all directions. Then he looked at me and asked if I would throw the bottle so I threw it off the dock and there he went.

This dog would keep jumping in and retrieving that bottle until you gave up because he does not. I am going to see if I can find that extra tennis ball on the boat and give it to him.

Before we cleaned up I decided to check the engine zincs and found wear on two which I had replaced last time. These two are at the bottom of the turbo coolers and remain sitting in saltwater constantly. I did replace one on the starboard heat exchanger just because it is the hardest to access.

After lunch aboard we broke out the bikes and went first to the Union Bank. It is just across the parking lot and is the only bank in town. We were running out of cash. So the nice lady inside told me they do not have an ATM but she is the human ATM machine and replenished our cash from Wells Fargo.

A visit to the Fisherman’s Museum introduced us to the docent John Bowden who treated us royally. (Pictures of the museum and the town tomorrow.)

Now you ask what are those Menhaden? They are the lifeblood of his town and what made men fortunes in this part of the country. They are fish that swim in vast dense schools in the Chesapeake. They are bony and have a large head in comparison to their body size so are not good to eat. The Indians caught then in fish traps and taught the Pilgrims to stick a Menhaden in the ground and plant a grain of seed corn on it to get a super crop yield.

They are loaded with fish oil and high protein. So a former Civil War Union captain named Joshua Reed, who had fought in this area, remembered the fish and moved down after the war. He started with one boat and built an empire. Fish oil and fish protein pellets. Somewhere in your house are several products using Menhaden. Margarine, cat food, dog food, Pepperidge Farm products, fertilizer and even the fish oil capsules I take daily.

Local residents have used their talent to build detailed models of boats, buildings and airplanes. This is the neatest little museum we have seen.

After the museum we rode over to Cockerall’s Seafood where they have a deli. We got beer and a snack and sat outside at picnic tables to eat. That is when we saw a Menhaden boat coming in pulling it’s purse boats behind. It was the Oyster. I walked around and watched them tie up and begin to vacuum the catch out of the hold. Then they shot up into a hopper and were sent along to waiting trucks that will take them to the processing plant. Here is the process 123.

Now this has been a day. Good thing I slept well last night. Tomorrow we are going to Tangier Island via ferry to visit a place where time has stood still. Come go with us won’t you. (We never made it to Tangier due to bad weather setting in.)