Onancock and Crisfield

Phil & Nikki Hoskins
Sat 10 Aug 2013 23:09
37:42.66N, 075:45.50W
Having left Norfolk and spent a night in Deltaville on the western Chesapeake shores we crossed to the more rarely cruised eastern side of the Bay. We spent two nights anchored at Onancock about four miles up Onancock Creek just off the town dock. This is a peaceful small town with galleries, restaurants and not much else ashore. We loved the tranquillity here with the surrounding shores lined with millionaires houses set in large gardens with mowed lawns running down to private docks at the water's edge. The sound of motor mowers was ever-present throughout the day, but there's lots of grass to be cut in Virginia. Some of the Georgian buildings could have dated back to the beginning of early settlements in this area in the 1600's. Many of the place and river names in the Chesapeake have remained from the days of the native Indian.
The anchorage off the main channel just off the town wharf had excellent holding but with the sheer numbers of jellyfish lurking in the water we decided to postpone further investigation regarding the lack of cooling water through the port drive leg. The engine was working fine pulling the water through the toilet intake so could wait a little longer before more underwater exploration was required.
We treated ourselves to a meal at the charming "Mallards at the Wharf" where an indication of the type of food on offer is hinted at on the menu which had the names (foreign sounding) of the chefs printed at the top. Couldn't see any Mallards though. It looked reasonably affordable for our budget, especially if you ordered an open sandwich, so we returned at 1830 for something to eat. You could sit outside on plastic chairs at plastic tables overlooking the creek as well as a rusty old digger belonging to the seemingly abandoned gravel quay next door but at these prices we demanded tablecloths, napkins and elevated views over the creek. We therefore chose to sit upstairs in the restaurant which was almost empty but quickly filled up within half an hour. We could just see the boat lying quietly at anchor, always a treat.
If you didn't want to talk to each other or didn't have i-pads to independently dab at, (surely one of the most annoying social habits to surface in recent years) then the restaurant television (!) was showing an offering from 'Shark Week'. This programme featured the eating habits of the Great White Shark. So, whilst waiting for our meal to be expertly cooked, sipping from a glass of chilled house white and eating our house salads we were treated to the sight of the Great White's own dinner extravaganza, including, but not exclusively, nice juicy baby seals pups, being attacked and bloodily torn limb from limb. This was not for the squeamish amongst the diners as the screen, which was difficult to ignore from anywhere in the seating plan, was coloured mainly red by clouds of swirling blood as the unfortunate creatures thrashed around in the jaws of these formidable predators. Meanwhile the 'Admiral's' portion of fresh Grouper arrived.  As a meal for a Great White it would have just about filled the space between two of it's numerous teeth but this was true Nouveau Cuisine in a remote corner of Virginia, meaning that there was more white plate visible than that with food occupying the surface.  'Skip' decided to forego fish and have a big juicy T-Bone steak set on a doll's bed of mash potato with four string beans (verts?) straddling the mash. Meanwhile the televised shark was threatening to devour wet-suit clad surfers somewhere in Australia. Our meals were excellent if not a little lost on the natty 12" square plates and it's simply amazing how a 16 once T-Bone shrinks down in the expert hands of a locally acclaimed chef. The 'Admiral's' Grouper was very tasty with it's Quinoa accompaniment and all in all it was an excellent dinner which we rounded off (due to latent hunger) with a Chocolate Brownie to share, which was, we have to admit, the best we have tasted this side of the pond. One thing that does puzzle us is how quickly our American cousins clear through a restaurant, as we were nearly first in and last out. We don't eat out that often to rush the experience but our American cousins seem to just see it as a 'fill-up and get out' process.
We stayed put the next day as the forecast indicated some windy stormy weather. Later in the day we ran port engine to charge the batteries and unbelievably the cooling water suddenly just stopped flowing. We shut down the engine and left it overnight and in the morning it was fine, indicating we'd sucked up an unfortunate jellyfish against the intake grating which would have floated free when the engine was stopped. The evening into the night was punctuated by lightening and torrential rain again.
Today we have moved on to Crisfield, a larger town also on the Chesapeake east shore - not so charming but we'll take a run ashore tomorrow and see what's to be seen.