Monday, June 8, 2015

Chincoteague Boating Tours

I'll be arriving on Chincoteague Island in July.  I will be going home.  One of the first things that I will do is call a specific number and make a reservation for a boat tour for myself.  Then I'll make reservations to go with the rest of the family, when they arrive four days later.  I can't wait to get aboard Captain Barry's Back Bay Cruises!  Captain Barry Frishman is unique among the tour boat captains of Chincoteague - he has studied marine biology, he has been an oysterman and a tugboat captain, he has kids and grandchildren, and he travels around the world visiting disaster sites as part of a relief team, giving care, comfort and hope (and teaching about the need for fresh water), as a volunteer.  Barry is a fun person to be around.  He can be funny and silly with the youngest members of his two-hour crew; he's always informative; he is an accomplished painter; and, no matter your age, or what type of cruise you take with Barry, you return smiling... because you had fun.  Both youngsters and adults have an entertaining time with Barry.  You can be as hands-on as you like, or you can just sit in a chair on deck and observe the fun.
  Barry is a native New Yorker, who moved to Chincoteague and fell in love with a 'Teaguer ( a Chincoteague native).  His wife's family has ties on the island dating back to 1643, when the first land patents were issued for the Eastern Shore lands in Virginia.  His wife's grandfather and great-grandfather took care of the Assateague Lighthouse as contractors for the US Coast Guard in the 1920s and 1930s.  Barry and Aleda have a large and thriving family, and if you happen to hear someone yelling, "Poppy!" to Captain Barry, it's one of his grandchildren...
  There are two types of trips available from Captain Barry's Back Bay Cruises - the Sea Life Expedition and the Champagne Sunset Cruise.  I've been on both, and I highly recommend both.  On the Sea Life Expedition, you get off the boat on sandbars to dig for clams - you may be able to catch your dinner.  Then you'll head off to go crabbing, pull in crab pots and learn to identify the catch.  If you're feeling really good, Barry will teach you how to hold a live crab without getting pinched.  He usually stops at Shell Island Beach for shell collecting and identification - and then he'll take you hunting for jellyfish!  While you've been cruising the channels a trawling net behind the boat has been gathering passing sea life - you'll pull the net aboard and see what treasures have been gathered.  Then you go birding - and Captain Barry knows his birds.  On this trip you get to use all of your senses - hearing, touch, taste, sight, and smell - as well as your mind.  This is the real deal cruise to take so that you can experience the life of a Chincoteague Waterman.
   On the Champagne Sunset Cruise, all you have to do is sit back, sip your drink, and enjoy the views.  Most sunsets over the mainland are spectacular when seen from Barry's boat...  I can get drunk on them without imbibing any alcohol!  With the wind in your hair and the smell of the sweet sea air, Barry will take you away to a Chincoteague Bay paradise.  Your worries disappear, you relax, and appreciate nature and the sunset in all their glory.  This is a fantastic way to celebrate the close  of the day - and the beginning of a wonderful night. You can bring along a personal cooler, too.  This is scheduled as an Adults Only trip - the only way you can bring kids on the Sunset Cruise is to reserve the entire boat.
   Have I convinced you to take a trip with Barry?  Good!  You can call and make reservations to ship out with him at  (757) 336-6508.
  And, a little bit more.  A few suggestions about traveling on board Back Bay Cruises:
By US Coast Guard regulations, Captain Barry can only have 6 other people aboard his boat.  He has USCG approved life jackets for all kids and adults.  Folks ranging in age from newborn babies to 91-year-olds have sailed with Captain Barry.
There is a clean, beautifully renovated and easy-to-use bathroom on board.
Barry has water to drink while aboard, but you are welcome to bring your personal coolers, with whatever you want inside.
If you are participating in a "hands on" manner, you might be barefoot in the water, or you  might need a pair of water shoes (or old sneakers) for walking on shells.
Barry always wears shorts, so when he goes into the water, he doesn't have wet slacks.
Smaller children have a tendency to splash and get muddy - a change of clothing and a towel are good things to bring along for them.
It's always cooler on the water, so a light jacket, windbreaker, or sweatshirt is a good idea- especially if you're on the Sunset Cruise.
Always recommended are: sunblock or sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, and insect repellent.
  Here are four quotes from previous passengers:
(1)  My older children first went out with Captain Barry about 11 years ago.  They still talk about what a blast they had.  We took the younger three out in the summer of 2013.  We had such an amazing time!  It's like a floating interactive science class, with built-in entertainment. This morning (May 2015) we had the pleasure of taking one of the first tours of the season with our 14 year old daughter and 12 year old nephew.  Captain Barry never disappoints.  We learn something new on every adventure, and the memories and learning the kids get is something that will stick with them for life.
(2)  Our group of four adults and a one year old granddaughter comprised the tour group for Captain Barry's charter.  Each of us was thoroughly delighted by the meet, greet, and even eat sea creatures right out of the water.  Our trip was at low tide which allowed us to visit exposed sand bars where we saw fiddler crabs scurrying about.  Part science, part local lore, part culinary, and through and through marvelous.  The captain was attentive, courteous, thoughtful, prepared, and lively.  Well done from start to finish.  Capt Barry, we will be back!
(3)  We loved this tour.  Definitely not your run-of-the-mill tourist experience, and well worth the money.  Capt Barry goes out of his way to entertain, engage, and teach.  The kids had a great time and can't stop smiling.  They're already asking about our our next trip with Capt Barry.  Go!
(4)  We had the BEST time! Heard so many good things and thought we should give him a try.  So glad we did.  I have never laughed and smiled so much!  He knows the area, knows what he is doing and showed us some VERY interesting things.  He is just a neat guy all around!  I have lived all over the country, seen a lot of bays, mainly San Fransisco Bay, and Captain Barry was BY FAR the best tour guide ever!  He made our Chincoteague Island trip feel like we were somewhere so perfect that EVERYONE should be there!

    So if you are looking for something fun to do, with kids, or without, I highly recommend seeing Captain Barry and his Back Bay Cruises for a fantastic time!

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