VIDEO: Cape Charles Snow Day

January 30, 2014
We take a drive down Mason Avenue and over the Hump so you don’t have to. (Click bottom right of window for full screen view.)


COMMENTARY: I Remember Nelson Mandela

Cape Charles Wave

December 7, 2013

Rarely is anything printed in the Wave that does not relate directly to the Eastern Shore. But the passing of Nelson Mandela compels me to write about what he meant to me. I offer this commentary to those who may be interested, while recognizing that it is not for everyone.

Among the early accounts of Mandela’s death December 5 at age 95 was a striking quote from, of all people, Arnold Schwarzenegger. He said: “President Mandela’s life is the closest thing we have to proof of God.” I would call that an overstatement, but I agree with the sentiment that Mandela, at least within the group of people we label politicians, was heads and shoulders above all the others. Mandela was a modern statesman in a time when the word seems obsolete.

Somewhere in my old collection of VHS tapes I have the Sunday morning recording I made of Mandela’s release from prison February 11, 1990, after 27 years of confinement. At the time I was training for my upcoming assignment to South Africa as a political aide to the U.S. ambassador.

I arrived in South Africa in June, just four months after Mandela’s release from prison. The country was in a state of hypertension, with all races fearful that a civil war would shortly erupt. For more than a decade, the conventional wisdom had been that war was inevitable.

This was where Mandela showed his genius for toughness encased in humility. During the negotiations between his African National Congress and the white ruling government, his eloquence, humility, intellect, determination, and yes – sense of humor – eroded the white power structure’s long-held conviction that a black president would run their nation into the ground, just as they had seen happen in Zimbabwe and elsewhere. [Read more…]


LETTER: Watch Out for Right Whales

Click on photo to watch a YouTube video on the endangered Right Whale.

December 6, 2013


Now that the air and water has finally cooled, trucks and boat trailers overrun the parking lot and roads around Cape Charles harbor — sure signs that the rockfish season is now in full swing. This time of year also marks the start of the North Atlantic right whale calving season which begins in November and runs through April. The whales are now migrating from their normal habitat in northeast U.S and Canada to the south coast of Georgia and Florida. NOAA Fisheries reminds boaters to be aware of these whales, and to take precautions to avoid collisions. There are fewer than 400 left, making them the most endangered marine mammal in the world.

The right whale got its name from northeast whalers who called it “the right whale” to hunt. These mammals had large amounts of blubber, were very slow swimmers, and once harpooned, tended to roll over and float, making them easy to strip and clean. Chapters 93-96 in Melville’s Moby Dick describe capturing the whale and the process of cutting the blubber into sections and preparing it for rendering.

Adult whales average 40-55 feet in length, can weigh up to 140,000 pounds, and may live up to 50 years. They spend the majority of their lives in the zooplankton- rich waters off northeastern U.S. and Canada. (Having no teeth, they mainly feed on copepods, euphausiids, and cyprids). In the fall of each year pregnant females migrate south to give birth to calves that are 10-15 feet long and weigh up to 1.5 metric tons. After birth, the calves drink mother’s milk for 8 to 17 months.

The coasts of Georgia and Florida are the only known calving areas for right whales, and NOAA wants to raise awareness of their migratory patterns and movement. The biggest issue is that, even as it would seem easy to spot something as big as a whale, in reality it is very difficult. They are dark, do not have dorsal fins, and swim just below the surface of the water. The only way is to be keenly aware of any changes in the texture of the water surface. [Read more…]

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REALTORS’ DREAM: Cape Charles Hits the Big Time


December 2, 2013

Is Cape Charles finally hitting the big time? Is the “best kept secret” finally out of the bag? That may depend on how many people nationwide saw the HGTV show a week ago Sunday. For those who missed it, the video clip above tells the story.

Glossy magazines like Southern Living (click here) and National Geographic Traveler (click here) have featured the attractions of Cape Charles during the past year and a half. So have the Washington Post (click here), USA Today (click here), and the Richmond Times-Dispatch (click here). But there’s nothing like a real nationwide TV show to seal the deal.

The HGTV show featured a Richmond family, the Outlands, who fell in love with Cape Charles and wanted to buy a beach house with a water view while prices are still low. Blue Heron Realty agent Eva Noonan was their guide, and showed them four properties. Click the screen above to watch the first four minutes of the show.

Plenty of Empty Rooms at Local Inns, Owner Says

Click above to hear Fig Street Inn Bed & Breakfast owner Donna Kohler address the Cape Charles Planning Commission.

Cape Charles Wave

November 12, 2013

Perceptions that Bed and Breakfasts in Cape Charles are doing a booming business are not accurate, Fig Street Inn owner Donna Kohler told the Cape Charles Planning Commission November 5. The reality is that occupancy last year averaged 28 percent among the five B&Bs in town, she said.

Kohler addressed the Planning Commission after the Wave reported October 3 that Commissioners wanted more motels on Route 13.  Commissioner Joan Natali said, “I’d love to see two or three hotels out on Route 13. The occupancy of our hotels has been consistently full. The reason is we have become a wedding destination.”

Not so, refuted Kohler. Even in August the occupancy rate was only 53 percent. “There is the idea that we need more rooms because we’re becoming a wedding destination and we need places for these guests to stay. Speaking only for my bed and breakfast, wedding guests aren’t staying at my inn . . . they make up under 10 percent of my business,” she said.

Kohler noted there are “multiple weddings” on any given weekend. “We know that the guests are coming, but we also know that they’re not choosing to stay in town.

“Is it appropriate for the Town to be concerned about a market that is basically a pass-through?” Kohler asked. “They’re here for one reason only – a wedding – and they are literally in and out in less than 24 hours.

“There is not enough demand for the inventory that already exists,” Kohler said. “If there were, I would think that the Hotel Cape Charles would be open year-‘round.

“You might want to say that we’re a summer destination and we need places for people to stay in the summer months,” Kohler continued. “That is not necessarily true. For August 2013, my inn had an occupancy rate of only 46 percent – far below what anyone would expect of a peak season. [Read more…]


Town Council ‘Gong Show’ on Front of School Building


October 30, 2013

Cape Charles Town Council has adopted another new procedure to control dissent, which sounds a lot like the old TV program “The Gong Show.” Council member Frank Wendell consistently says what other Council members don’t want to hear, so they have begun limiting his remarks to five minutes at the end of each meeting. Joan Natali is the timekeeper, and sounds the gong when Wendell’s time is up.

Click on the slide show below to hear Wendell harangue Town Council members at the October 17 meeting for their refusal to recognize the front of the old school building in Central Park. A developer wants to construct a parking lot in front of the building in violation of the Town’s historic guidelines. But if the front of the building is on Plum Street instead of facing the park, then the planned parking lot would be on the “side” of the building.


Coast Guard Station Cape Charles Aids in Perilous Rescue

Helicopter rescue video has no sound, but can induce motion sickness! (Click bottom right for full-screen)

October 19, 2013

EDITOR’S NOTE: Here in Cape Charles we are most likely to see resident Coast Guard personnel playing soccer in Central Park or jogging along town streets. The Wave is reprinting the following Coast Guard rescue report as a reminder that our neighbors’ “day job” can be a perilous one. On Thursday, October 10, in 40-knot winds, 12-foot seas, and inky darkness, the Coast Guard rescued two people from a disabled vessel by lowering a rescue swimmer from a helicopter who rigged a tow line to a Coast Guard vessel. Coast Guard Station Cape Charles participated in the mission.


Fast-moving storms blew through parts of the Eastern Seaboard last week, whipping maritime communities with heavy rain and high winds. True to form for Coast Guard men and women, the foul weather was no match for the perseverance of Coast Guard crews.

The Coast Guard responded to a sailboat sinking near the mouth of the Great Wicomico River and another sailboat northeast of Cape Charles that was also sinking.

Crew members aboard the 34-foot sailboat Basta contacted Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads’ command center reporting the boat was experiencing engine trouble, and they were unable to raise their sails or lower an anchor.

Hampton Roads watchstanders issued an urgent marine information broadcast and dispatched a rescue crew from Coast Guard Station Cape Charles and an aircrew aboard an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C.

After being underway for approximately an hour, the boat crew was directed to return to base due to the high seas. The helicopter crew met a similar fate as they arrived on scene. [Read more…]


Action at the Auction: 3 Minutes of Bay Creek Bidding


August 20, 2013

Watch this 3-minute video of auction action yesterday as buyers bid on Heron Pointe, the former home of Bay Creek developer Dickie Foster. (Click bottom right of image for full screen view.)