Assateague Island: Surf Side

Beach Hut on Assateague


It’s a 6 hour drive from here to there, and it means running the gauntlet of Hampton Roads – through perpetual traffic congestion, rough roads, backups at bridges and tunnels. For a traffic wimp like me it’s harrowing at best, and at worst, when there’s an accident or just rush hour mayhem, it can add hours to the trip. Sometimes I leave in the middle of the night just so I can sneak through when everyone else is asleep.

Approaching the shore, it gets worse and worse, the pressure building and progress slowing. Until you reach the toll gate to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Then, like a watermelon seed, you’re suddenly spit out on a 23 mile long arc, skipping across the mouth of the Bay, free of land and congestion, surrounded by nothing but water and birds and ships for as far as you can see.


Bay Bridge Tunnel


On the far side it’s like a different country altogether, and the pace of life slows considerably. I’ve always loved the place names on the Eastern Shore. Most have native origins, and they roll with a rhythm that feels like the sea when you say them, mellifluous waves of syllables:


followed by the more Anglo and rather stern:
Modest Town

and the unpronounceable Treherneville


Bridge to Assateague


It was late in the day by the time I arrived. Peter and Shirley, Tony’s parents, said he had been on the sea side surfing for the past four hours. Long enough that Shirley was thinking about getting worried. I backed the boat into a campsite, got all signed up, and headed over to look for him.




The island, though 35 miles long, is only a few hundred yards wide, depending on how and where you measure. In any case, it’s an easy walk from one side to the other, but the two sides are like different islands. The sound side is all marshes and wildlife, shallow water with gentle waves, quiet winding creeks tessellating an indefinite shoreline. The ocean side, on the contrary, is a broad rampart of comparatively sterile sand, straight as an arrow, with thundering surf and uninhibited winds.




Looking north to Ocean City



Looking south






Not Tony



The remnants of a distant storm had kicked up a modest set of waves, and there were a dozen or so surfers in view from the crest of the dunes. Even with my telephoto lens I managed to mistake someone else for Tony, and it wasn’t until he got out and walked up next to me that I finally figured it out. Pretty funny. I was diligently filming someone who I thought was him, while he’s standing beside me, dripping and holding a surfboard under his arm, watching me do it.




Nice views, though.

He was tired, cold and happy. By the time we left, I did get some shots of him, really him, surfing.























Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *