The Chesapeake Bay is full of islands, though most are only technically islands. Most are separated from the mainland by narrow creeks and marshes and connected by permanent bridges, so they don’t feel like islands. Surprisingly few are true islands at some distance from shore, and fewer still are places people call home; people have lived on Smith and Tangier islands for centuries, since the earliest Europeans sailed up the Bay.From the end of the town dock, at the end of Main Street in Crisfield, Maryland, you can’t actually see Smith Island. You will think you can. Refraction makes the trees and houses of that place float above the horizon in a shimmering line. Sometimes it’s sharp and clear, others it’s a smudge of smoke that comes and goes as light and air change throughout the day, and still others it’s just a ripple at the waterline.

The fleet leaves Crisfield for the crossing to Smith Island.all photos and videos by the author

The fleet leaves Crisfield for the crossing to Smith Island.

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