First, I would like to thank Rex Sr., Lisa and Rex Jr. Hamaker of Taste Tidewater Tours for inviting me to the event. We had a great time!
Buy Fresh Buy Local Hampton Roads (BFBL) in conjunction with Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and Lynnhaven River Now (LRN) hosted an oyster habitat tour through Lynnhaven Inlet. There were two boat runs, one in the morning and another in the afternoon, taking approximately 50 passengers around Broad Bay Island. Between boat trips there was a reception where we were given information about the history of Lynnhaven oysters, the science behind increasing the population, and how oysters help our waterways.
The Back Deck was our rendezvous point for our group; we lucked out with beautiful weather, sunny and warm. We check in with Rachel Burns from BFBL who gave us our wristbands and drink tickets. At the pier we saw our ride and most of the patrons already on the boat. We jumped on and said our hellos and recognized some faces. I was happy to see Cappy Sinclair on board, also with BFBL, who was getting the wine uncorked and ready to pour once we were underway. We were introduced to Karen Forget of LRN, we also met Chris Moore and Kate Wilson of CBF; they would guide us on our tour.
Our ship’s captain—Jimmy Sollner—took the helm of the Bea Hayman Clark and talked to us a little bit about the boat, safety procedures and how we are all responsible for clean water and what grows in it. Ready and secure we left the pier, Karen began to point out a few things in the inlet. The first small island we passed (Fish Island I believe) was stacked with old concrete from the first Lesner bridge tore down in the 1950s. She showed us oyster castles that are used to help them cluster and grow. Along the bulkheads that protected people’s yards along the channel you could see little oysters glistening in the sun. Some people who have property on the water volunteer to help grow oysters with cages submerged just a few feet from their backyard.
We made our way down the north side of Broad Bay and passed by First Landing State Park—formerly Seashore State Park if you haven’t been here in a while. We saw several other spots where preservation efforts have taken place. Seeing the park from the water, people walking/jogging along the trails was very interesting. We made our way to the southern side of Broad Bay and headed back to our point of departure.
Back on land the event reception was ready and the next group to go out on the boat were there waiting for us to return. We were served rockfish bites, a buttery clam chowder, huge shrimp, and oysters. More information was given about the Chesapeake Bay and the tributaries that flow to it. CBF, LNR, and BFBL gave examples of the effort they go through to increase the health of the oyster population, and the Bay in general, for everyone to enjoy.
Chris Ludford from Pleasure House Oysters was on deck with some help from Cam Chalmers of Lynnhaven Oyster Company shucking oysters. Chris had a little talk with us about the oysters and showed off some monsters he pulled out of the water just hours earlier. These are the same oysters we had the pleasure of eating—so good, a little salty and meaty. There was a line for these things while the reception was in play. I also need to mention that they had great local beers on tap and Virginian wine available. I had a couple pints of Young Veterans Brewing Co.'s award winning Pineapple Grenade Hefeweizen.
We mingled for a bit and started to make our way home when group two stepped on board the Bea Hayman Clark. It was a great day with good people and food. The day was a great learning experience chased with delicious food and drinks.
Please check out the photos of the inlet and the rest of the trip here.