Annapolis photographer Jay Fleming thought he’d get a few shots on Tangier Island and be on his way back home. Instead, he found himself stuck on the ice-locked 1.2-square-mile Tangier in the middle of a National Guard emergency supply drop and the island’s old ice tradition.Jay Fleming is the premier photographer of Chesapeake Bay at this time. Go here to get a sense for his work.
Fleming said he took a charter plane on Jan. 3 into the island 12 miles off the coast of Virginia to see the icy Chesapeake Bay surrounding it. Upon landing, he learned ice had locked the island off from land, making it inaccessible to boats. With no charter planes heading out until the next week, Fleming was stuck with only two things to do: point and shoot.
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On Saturday, Fleming captured the Virginia National Guard picking up and delivering food, mail and medicine to the island via two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. Six aviation crew soldiers picked up supplies from Crisfield, Maryland, two times to make deliveries to the island, according to National Guard spokesman A.A. "Cotton" Puryear.
The last time the National Guard had to send Black Hawks with supplies to Tangier was February 2015 after the island became ice-locked in the wake of Winter Storm Octavia, according to Puryear.
Fleming captured the silhouette of Tangier Island Mayor James "Ooker" Eskridge being handed supplies from a National Guard officer as the sun set over the ice behind them. He also shot tugboat captain and Tangier native Jeff Crockett unloading supplies from the Black Hawks. Fleming said Crockett came back to the island specifically to be iced-in and hunt waterfowl.
Fleming also witnessed the revival of a Tangier tradition he says islanders hadn’t seen for at least 40 years. More than 100 people ice skated, sledded and socialized as old boat parts burned in a bonfire atop the ice at Jobs Cove Sunday night.
Fleming reported winds more than 60 miles per hour on Thursday, and shot drifts of dry snow blanketing cars. He also said that watermen’s work boats were “locked in” and unable to get out to dredge oysters, putting those who make Tangier’s main source of income out of work for more than a week. Fellow photographer Carol Pruitt Moore, who housed Fleming, said she remembers the freeze of 2015 that brought in the National Guard, but says the 2018 freeze has been much more intense. She said she walked half a mile on the ice on Monday.
“I don’t think it (2015) was to this extent. The ice is very thick and hard. It’s pretty solid,” Moore said. “I’m ready for this party to end. My grandchildren got to experience something they may never experience again, and they had a blast. But I’m over the snow. I’m over the ice. I’m over it.”
Tuesday, January 9, 2018
When Life Gives You Ice . . .
make ice cream? Annapolis photographer stuck on icebound Tangier Island