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The Boat Trip Was a Piece of Cake
Ewell, MD - 10/4/2012
By Dick Myers
It was a trip back in time. The boat cruises in warm weather months from Point Lookout State Park to Smith Island are not only a great family adventure they are a way for everyone to have their cake and eat it to. That’s because Smith Island is not only an interesting place to visit, it’s also home to Maryland’s State dessert, the Smith Island Cake.
The cake consists of many (usually ten) thin layers of sweet icing. It comes in a number of flavors. During this reporter’s trip to the island, the Bayside Inn restaurant at the town dock was serving orange and chocolate, and pieces of both were tried. But also that day the ladies of Ewell (the island’s main town) United Methodist Church were having a bake sale, so a half of a lemon pineapple Smith island Cake returned home to St. Mary’s County for eating through the week. The cakes alone are worth the trip to the island.
Close by the dock is the Smith Island Center, a museum which tells the story of the island. In the museum a myth that the island was founded by disgruntled St/ Mary’s countians is debunked. In fact Smith Islanders are direct descendants of British colonists who settled the island in the early 1700s. For more information on the center and the island check their website http://www.smithisland.org/
Islanders are reported to have a distinctive speech pattern, a strong holdover of the Elizabethan/Cornwall dialect due to the island’s isolation. But our trip didn’t reveal much of that; perhaps the islanders have been watching too much TV.,
The trip to the island takes an hour-and-a-half and the stay on the island is about two-and-a-half hours. That’s plenty of time to eat at the restaurant or one of several small places and either walk, bicycle and ride a golf cart around the island.
The Bayside Inn, which obviously depends on the tour boats not only from pt. Lookout but also from Crisfield on the Eastern Shore, serves quite good local seafood. This reporter had cream of crab soup and an adequate crab cake (Stoney’s is better), but also very good stewed tomatoes and corn pudding. And of course there was the Smith Island Cake.
There are two small bed and breakfasts on the island so it is possible to stay over if you like. Life on the island is hard with crabbing (and processing them) and some oystering and catering to the tourists the only way to make a living. It’s a quiet place, a good place to shuck your cell phone and relax.
The boat trip provides a good view of a target ship in the middle of the Bay used by the U.S. Navy. According to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, the ship, “TheUSASAmerican Marinerwas aU.S. Armyresearch vessel from January 1959 to 30 September 1963. She was originally assigned toDAMP Projectby theAdvanced Research Projects Agency(ARPA) to attempt to collect radar signature data on incoming intercontinental ballistic missiles in the
“Laid down in 1941 as theLiberty shipSSGeorge Calvert(MC #20), she first saw service as theU.S. Coast Guardtraining shipTSAmerican Mariner, where she served until 1953 when she was placed in reserve. After her
“She appears to have been the only ship to have served in the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy after being built for service with theUnited States Merchant Marine.”
The last weekend in September marked the last cruises from Point Lookout until the warm weather next year. Cost is $40 per person. Check there website http://smithislandcruises.com/ for more information.
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