Published – The Skipjack, Wilma Lee

The skipjack, Wilma Lee – Ocracoke Island, North Carolina

Back in mid-January of 2014, Cindy and I made a mad dash for the Outer Banks of North Carolina, to see a rare irruption of snowy owls all the way down on Ocracoke Island. While we were successful in that venture, we saw other things of note there as well – including a rare Chesapeake Bay skipjack, the Wilma Lee. You can read all about Chesapeake skipjacks here, but most of the remaining examples of them are on static displays at museums – not actually floating in the water or even able to sail anymore.

Within a few weeks after I had published my image on my old blog, I received a commercial use inquiry from an Annapolis-based sailing publication, Spinsheet. We negotiated terms, came to an agreement, and within a month my photo was used as the title image for their article on the Wilma Lee – which was being used at the time as a tourboat for visitors and as a floating classroom for school children. The Wilma Lee was severely damaged by Hurricane Arthur some six months after I took my photo of her, and she has since changed hands again and is now berthed at the Annapolis Maritime Museum & Park in Maryland.

In the publication – Annapolis, Maryland

Photo info:
The Chesapeake skipjack, Wilma Lee
Ocracoke docks
Ocracoke Island, North Carolina
January 2014
Apple iPhone 5S

Snowy Owl Irruption

Snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus) – Ocracoke Island, North Carolina

One morning in January many years ago, Cindy suggested – completely out of the blue – that we take a road trip down to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and observe the snowy owl irruption that was taking place down there at the time. Now – mind you – Cindy is not one for the beach scene, so this suggestion was completely uncharacteristic of her. After picking my jaw off the floor, I readily agreed to the jaunt, and we had a fine time down there in the off-season – and actually saw one of the beautiful creatures from a distance.

This image was captured with an iPhone 5S, looking through a high-powered spotting scope.


Photo info:
Snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus)
Ocracoke Beach
Ocracoke Island, North Carolina
January 2014
Apple iPhone 5S

The Ghost Fleet at Mallows Bay

The boat launch – Mallows Bay, Maryland

There is a hidden fleet of century-old ships on the Potomac River in Maryland – a fleet so vast that it’s hard to visualize. And yet this fleet of ships can’t really be seen at all… because it’s entirely underwater. This is the infamous Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay, where some 230 vessels – widely regarded as the “largest shipwreck fleet in the Western Hemisphere” – were towed, burned, and sunk after Word War I. You can read more online about Mallows Bay via Google here, and see dozens of videos about it on YouTube here.

We visited Mallows Bay with our kayaks back when information about it was difficult to find, and the resulting video that Cindy created is one of her most popular, with over 138K views.

The only shipwreck still largely above the water is the remains of the SS Accomac, a Chesapeake Bay car ferry dating back to 1928, which was towed here and left to rot sometime after 1964.

The wreck of the SS Accomac car ferry – Mallows Bay, Maryland

However, virtually all of the other wrecks here are completely covered and hidden at high tide, which poses a severe danger to any boat that ventures close enough. Why? Because the last remaining timbers and metal bolts from the burned wooden ships are literally inches under the surface of the water, just waiting for the unsuspecting. You can see some of these in photo below.

Danger lurks just under the surface – Mallows Bay, Maryland

There are still a few of the deteriorating wooden hulls that can be seen and approached, but given they are in such a terrible state of rot, they should not be climbed upon.

One of the wrecked hulls – Mallows Bay, Maryland

Below is a photo of one of the keels of the wooden ships, and the many metal bolts that are covered at high tide. The bolts can – and will – rip the bottom out of any watercraft that ventures through them at speed when they are covered with water.

Size reference – Mallows Bay, Maryland

Once we finished our tour and headed for the shore, Cindy discovered a huge moth drowning in the water, which she rescued. Once the moth had dried out, we placed it in a bush along the shoreline.

Cindy with the moth that she rescued – Mallows Bay, Maryland
Cecropia moth (Hyalophora cecropia) – Mallows Bay, Maryland

All-in-all, Mallows Bay is a wonderful place to crawl through and slowly explore with a canoe or kayak. Highly recommended.


Photo info:
All photos taken with an Apple iPhone 5S
Video taken with a Sony waterproof digicam