As you approach Crisfield from the water, you will see high-rise condominiums along the shore and the stunning Somers Cove Marina neighboring a lush green park. A vast contrast to the shantytown, but lovely invitation at Tangier Island!
And yes, we judge a book by its cover.
We were greeted at the marina office with slices of Smith Island Cake, thinly layered double-tall cakes made infamous by nearby Smith Island. This was by far the largest and most beautiful marina we have visited yet. More to come on that...
From the office, we could see a carnival being set up in the parking lot of the park. We meandered over and met a few people who were excited to ask if we boated in for the Crab Festival. Their animated tone revealed great pride in this event that would take place in a few short days. “We have the biggest and best crab around. We catch 50 of ‘em, one for each state, and we race them. The winning state gets thrown back in and the rest, well, they become CRAB FEST!” a big burly guy bellowed.
We chatted for a while and asked for directions to the town. They looked at each other as if nobody knew how to answer or we were a bit daft – I guess the case could be made for both. “Just walk up to the street and you’re there.”
We proceeded less than a block when we landed on a beautiful, newly paved road flanked on both sides by worn vacant buildings dressed in “For Sale” signs. It was so odd! We peered inside the buildings screaming for life and walked away feeling conflicted, and a sense of unrest that we could neither justify or articulate.
The next day, although 104 degrees outside, we rented bicycles from the marina office (yes, it was adventurous Tad's suggestion!) so we could explore further. Every once in a while a car would pass us, but all remained quiet. We recalled a gift shop closer into town that was closed the day before and were delighted to find it not only open, but astutely bedecked with quality gifts. We enjoyed a long chat with Linda, owner of Bay Gift Vault and learned a bit about the history causing the unease felt throughout the town.
It appears Hurricane Sandy did much damage to Crisfield, but it didn’t take just structures, it took the soul of the community. Many people were wiped out entirely and vowed not to return or rebuild. The beautiful new streets, marina, library, court house were accredited to the governor of Maryland who was from Crisfield and fought for funding to rebuild a new infrastructure.
Some six years later the town of Crisfield, once dropped to its knees through the destruction of the storm, is still struggling to stand again. A lovely town lost in the teetering between hope and despair.
Linda, one of the hopefuls and a 20 plus year marketing professional from New York City left the corporate world in 2014 to enjoy a quieter life with her husband in Crisfield. She glowed as she explained the efforts and plans she and a group of other hopefuls had for their little town.
I couldn't help but witness human nature and attitude seeding the conflict felt in this town with so much beauty in bud. I can see this town becoming a flourishing tourist attraction. The infrastructure is there, and I believe the vision is as well. I'm praying the hopeful can win this one!
Somers Cove Marina - As I mentioned earlier, this was one of the nicest marinas we've docked at yet! The staff was friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. I couldn't begin to recount all the amenities, so I'll just use their list! 100 Transient Berths to 150', 30, 50 and 100 amp Electric , Pump-out stations, oil & anti-freeze disposal stations, Wi-Fi Hot Spots, Swimming Pool, Playground, 7 clean, modern Comfort Stations, Air-conditioned Bath Houses, 3 Laundry Facilities, Pet-friendly, Tables, Barbecue Grills, Horseshoe Pits, Mini Crab Races, Outdoor Event Tents, 3 Boat Launch Ramps, Bait & Tackle Store (Ice), Large meeting area & Banquet Room, Large Picnic Rental Pavilion (Accommodates up to 500), Home Port of Fishing Charter and Head Boats, Fish cleaning station, Ship’s Store, Security Patrol, Minutes from Crisfield Airport and Janes Island State Park
Summers Cove Marina
Beautiful marina with over 400 slips. City owned and well maintained and all the amenities. The employees are helpful and friendly and will greet you with a piece of the infamous Smith Island cake. There is also a lounge for boaters to come in from the heat and free bicycle rental for the first two hours and then $1.50 for every hour after.
Shore Power and Water
WiFi – although only on slips close to the dock
Laundry and small lounge in the Marina Office