Tangier Island, along with Smith Island, its sister to the north, is one of the last inhabited small islands on the east coast of the United States. Most of the people on Tangier Island make their living from the water harvesting fish, oysters, clams and crabs from the local waters. Due to the relatively shallow depths of the water surrounding the island, the Tangier Island area is one of the most prolific soft crab fisheries in the world. Crabs that are harvested and shed in floating pens here often end up on New York City menus the next day.
Since Tangier Island is a working island, there are not many facilities set aside for cruising boaters. If you do decide to try and stay on the island, you may contend for space with local workboats that come and go at all hours of the day. We recommend catching a ferry from the mainland.
Use NOAA Chart 12228.
The west side Tangier Island lies on Tangier Sound. From Tangier Sound, pick up green can 3, which marks a long shoal extending form the island into Tangier Sound. Once you have cleared this mark, head for flashing green 1 at the entrance to Tangier Island, and then follow the series of lighted and unlighted marks into the thorofare that cuts Tangier Island into two. Depths along the thorofare range from four to six feet, and you must also keep an eye out for unlit crab shedding floats that line the channel like little islands.