Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Photographic Opportunities on Assateague Island, Virginia (Part II)

The southern end of the island is very picturesque, with dunes and an abandoned Coast Guard station located there. This once served as a rescue station due to the severe storms the coast experiences, with ready boats always prepared to go on moments notice. The great number of shipwrecks along the Maryland and Virginia coasts serves a reminder of the sea’s fury, especially in winter. Even a presidential yacht sank there in the late 1800s. While this station is now closed, the Coast Guard still operates off of Chincoteague Island doing much of what they did years ago.

The Tom’s Cove side and south tip of the island is normally closed from March through September each year because of the birds that nest there, and sometimes access even to the Coast Guard station is restricted, so it is best to call ahead at (757) 336-6577. Access to the station is by foot, horse, or four wheel drive vehicle (a seasonal permit to drive on the beach is $70).

Three months ago, the buildings were boarded up (they had most recently served as a training base for lifeguards). Their future remains uncertain as the National Park Service, the agency responsible for them, attempts to construct a plan to maintain them. (If you shoot there, be sure to obey the No Trespassing signs on the wharf.)

There are some very picturesque views from the dunes along the access road to the Coast Guard station, and Tom’s Cove (where the building that housed the Ready Boats were based is located) is a serene body of water mostly shielded from the ocean by the island’s hook.

The lookout tower now contains instrumentation for NASA’s facility at Wallops Island (across the channel to the Southwest). Wallops often launches satellites for NOAH and other government agencies.

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