Thursday, May 15, 2008

Callis' Wharf

Here's what's neat about this photo. It's a shot from Callis' Wharf on Gwynn's Island, and it includes a vista (what a regal sounding word, vista) of Mainland Mathews, which in this particular instance is actually the Coast Guard Station, also known as Something Adjacent to CRICKET HILL.

Cricket Hill is where the last Royal Governor was chased away. From Virginia. Or at least from Mathews. Or rather, someone was chased away from Cricket Hill. And it was a good thing. I assure you.

Callis' Wharf, on Gwynn's Island, is an incredible place, with an incredible history. If I knew the actual history, I'd share it with you now. I assure you. The depth and breadth of my historical knowledge is impressive, no?

What I can tell you is this: Callis' Wharf was once (and to a lesser extent still is) a burgeoning seafood place, where the local watermen process(ed) the day's catch, which could be crabs, oysters, clams, fish, The Loch Ness Monster's cousin CHESSIE, and other aquatic delicacies. At various times a small market has thrived there. Long ago, before the bridge, a ferry ran from the mainland to this wharf (just like every other place around here with a bridge, there typically was once a ferry).

What may not be very evident from this angle, however, is just how important this particular SWATCH of water actually is. (I am acutely aware that one does not ever procure a SWATCH of water. Acutely.) Right here, in front of Callis' Wharf, and just beyond under the Gwynn's Island Bridge, travel hundreds, perhaps thousands, perhaps even MILLIONS of boats in any given year. Seriously. It's a very busy place. If Mathews ever does gets a stoplight, it should definitely be a nautical one. Right here.

One of the most VEXING maritime challenges exists right in front of this wharf. Milford Haven (the name of the area between Gwynn's Island and Mainland Mathews) is where "red on right returning" (a navigational phrase which causes my eyes to roll skywards and then backwards and then upwards again until you see the whites, which sometimes appear to be reds) CHANGES. Because you are no longer--all of a sudden--returning. You are going outwards. To the Chesapeake Bay. And therefore "red on right returning" switches to "red channel markers should be on your right even though you are not returning anywhere." OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT. Is it not abundantly clear at this point why I cannot navigate??

For now, all that's left of any mercantile activity at Callis' Wharf is the vibrant, red Coke machine amidst the old, white buildings.

And how appropriate. Because truly, being so representative of Mathews County and its heritage of watermen, Callis' Wharf is indeed The Real Thing.


foolery said...

I am now completely terrified by the thought of ever getting behind the wheel of a boat. What I don't know could kill all of us.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Foolery, I bet you'd be fine in a small rig but I'm here to tell you that I'm no dummy (let's just go with that for now) and what I don't now about navigation is A LOT. And I even grew up knowing the channels and underwater hazards, etc. Too many hurricanes have shifted everything and you can no longer even trust the channel markers. I think the canoe is my best bet.

foolery said...

You haven't seen me in a canoe, Cheeky. It's not pretty.

BOSSY said...

Did someone say Seafood?

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...


Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Bossy, for reading my pitiful, amateur blog.

You have made my day. It was otherwise headed towards terrible, horrible, no good and very bad.

Thank you!

p.s. if this comment posts twice, sorry, this place always seems to eat my comments.

foolery said...

You have GOT to stop with the idea that your blog is amateur or somehow "less-than," Miss Cheeky. Your writing, your stories and humor, are as good as anything else I read. I have many favorites, but yours is DEFINITELY one of them.

And yes, I would be pretty excited to have Bossy leave a comment, too, because she's THAT GOOD.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Thanks, foolery. I still can't admit this is anything but amateur. If you saw me fumbling with my camera, I am sure you'd agree. Just today, just a few moments ago, I COULD NOT GET THE LENS CAP ON THE CAMERA. After much sweating and several choice words, I finally got the darn thing on. It's ridiculous.

ed said...


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