Birthday candles

It’s fun and surprising to receive birthday greetings from people you haven’t seen in quite some time.

I’m coming off a week of vacation,

so it seemed like a good time to share a few things that happened.

I love going to dinner by boat, something that’s not always easy to manage, but is more feasible on vacation.

My wife and I spent our week off with relatives at Sandy Point in Westmoreland County, and managed to go to either lunch or dinner on five different voyages before Dorian brought choppy water to the Potomac River.

Knowing I was going to write about my love of meals by boat got me thinking about why I get such a kick out of it.

I started out overthinking it, but eventually realized it’s pretty simple. I like to eat. I love being out on the water in boats. Combine the two and I’m one happy rascal.

There’s also a bit of personal history that plays into this love of nautical meals.

When I was still a tyke, my grandfather would occasionally load us into his Chesapeake Bay deadrise and cruise from his house at Sandy Point to the nearby Yeocomico River to a unique eatery on the shore there.

It was a house on the water where some savvy but simple restaurateurs would serve breakfast and dinner on their back porch.

At that spot—which eventually became Port Kinsale Marina—there weren’t many choices for dinner. You got the fried chicken, the fish or the steak, with vegetables coming out in big dishes for the entire table.

I loved the food, but I thought the whole process was the coolest thing—I got to take a boat ride that ended in a great meal. To top it off, there was the bonus of a boat ride back home at the end of the evening. We might even toss in some fishing lines on the way home if anything was biting.

That simple joy of getting to go to dinner by boat is still with me, and last week took us everywhere from the Coles Point Tavern on the Virginia side to the Ruddy Duck Seafood & Alehouse in Piney Point, Md. The latter’s almost a straight shot across the Potomac River from Sandy Point.

There’s a history in that spot from my youth, as well, though back then the restaurant we’d go to was called Evans, and offered all-you-could-eat hard crabs served on big picnic tables. For a while, a nearby spot had slot machines, though as a youngster I was a lot more interested in the crabs than the slots.

With fewer boats on many of our waterways than in days past, it’s sometimes difficult to work out this dinner-by-boat thing.

That’s why we took full advantage of the chance last week and covered a good bit of water doing it, eating crabs prepared about every way possible. Life was good.

I also had a birthday last week, something that’s different now that Facebook reminds half the people you’ve met that you’re a year older.

In one sense, you know that’s going to happen. But when you start getting birthday wishes from folks you haven’t talked to or contacted in forever, it is a bit of a surprise.

I heard from friends, teachers, old neighbors and family members. Some sent simple birthday wishes and some sent unique and neatly designed images in their messages.

I liked the one from a longtime Charlottesville friend named James that featured a picture of a blue crab wearing a birthday hat. That’s something I’d never seen before.

Another one that made me laugh was something from a good friend named Newt, who sent me a message decked out with several images of pigs.

It’s a nod to the rec league team “The Pigs,” which he and I were part of for a bit, something that morphed into a regular afternoon game at a Stafford County church.

I shot him back a big thumbs-up, saying I was proud to be a “Pig for life.”

All in all, it was a great week, capped off by hearing from some friends not heard from for quite a while.

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Rob Hedelt: 540/374-5415

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