Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Revisiting Mallows Bay

I leaped out of bed early on Sunday morning, anxious to load up Big Red on to Stuart before the heat got too overbearing. I'd organized a day to explore the Ghost ships of Mallows Bay, which I hadn't seen for a few years, and it was going to take me nearly 2.5 hours to get there from Marshall.
I interrupted this young buck's breakfast grazing with my dashing around, but he kindly posed for a quick snap.
I was meeting Bill and Nick, a friend's dad, Nils, and Emily, who had borrowed Margie's boat. Today would be the best for tides, with the low tide being at 1:48pm. We were also lucky to have cloud cover which was keeping the sun at bay for a few hours. This link shows my 2 previous trips here, the last was 3 years ago. How time flies...
We put in and circled the old car ferry, S.S. Accomac, a couple of times and then headed to a beach for lunch, combing the ground for sea glass and sharks' teeth. I had brought the Sony today so was a little anxious, taking care to keep it wrapped from the salt water.
I kept an eye on the time and let folks know it was time to paddle towards the hulks, where they'd be the most visible at low tide. Nils had been here many times previously so he continued on down the coastline to search for more sharks' teeth.
A photo from 1925 of the fleet, having been burned, with plumes of smoke still rising from their skeletal remains.
Today, there's about 100 wooden hulls rotting in the bay, ships never sailed on due to unseasoned wood and poor construction. Most of the usable materials had been lifted from them, and a final scrap project by Bethlehem Steel in the 1940's resulted in today's scene, just nails jutting from the wooden hulls.
There's little visible at high tide, and during the low tide, as we slowly paddled around, I was amazed at how much further the hulks had deteriorated.
Showing Emily how to hold her paddle.
Bill and Nick striking a photographer pose.
Taken with a wet iPhone, I liked the hazy image.
We sat for a while in the middle of the ship graveyard, enjoying the solitude and watching the wildlife.
Because of the many abandoned ships here, the limited water movement has helped to create a mini-ecosystem in the bay. So much wood has enriched the sediment, encouraging wildlife to flourish. Thick weed has grown, making paddling difficult and using rudders or engines impossible. We liked that, the bigger boats had to keep their noise out on the waves while we enjoyed the quiet. Even the gulls made few squawks and the only discordant outcries were from a large blue heron that we disturbed.
Eroded wood covered in a film of weed.
I thought this looked like a guy wearing a hat and standing to attention.
A couple of shots of the hulks underwater using my iPhone.
 The afternoon flew by too fast. I wasn't sure if it was because we spent so much time struggling with the weed or simply that we were enjoying ourselves, but I just didn't feel like I'd taken enough photos, and the water was rising fast. As we left the ships to sleep once more under their briny blanket, we struck out for the bank, the outlines of the ships disappearing behind us.
Hopefully this link will work, sharing a PDF written by Donald G. Shomette with photos by Dennis Brack.

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