Shardana Starts an Oyster Nursery. How Many Oysters are on Your Half-Shell?

By Captain Davis Jones

Captain Davis Jones Oysters.jpg

Captain Davis Jones getting ready to place Oysters in the water off our dock.

Last time I got oysters on the half-shell, there was just one slimy little critter for every shell.  But the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF)does a lot better than that!  Every shell they gave me had 4 – 8 baby oysters affixed, ready to grow.  Sounds like a good deal, but they’re not for eating.  Instead, they are meant to help improve the water quality and restore an ancient ecosystem in the Chesapeake Bay.

Baby Oysters.jpg

Each Baby OYster is Called “SPAT”

They are circled in red. They look like barnacles on a rock at this stage. While they will adhere and grow on rocks or concrete, they like shells even better.

With permission from the management at Osprey Point Marina, I signed up with CBF to become a foster parent of a few hundred baby oysters (I neither counted nor named them).  After a brief training, Patrick Beall, CBF’s Oyster Restoration Specialist, taught us the history and biology of oysters in the Chesapeake and I learned how critical they are to the health of the Bay.  For you to know, each adult oyster will filter up to 50 gallons of water a day, using the nutrients to grow and excreting the sediments and nitrogen into a “biodeposit” (fancy word for oyster poop) that helps stabilize the reef and remove contaminants from the water column.  

Pat asked all the boaters in the crowd if we had ever run aground in the Bay.  There were no liars in the room, and we all admitted our faults.  He then asked if we had ever run aground on an oyster reef, and all hands went down.  Apparently, when Captain John Smith first explored the Bay in 1608, he continually ran into oyster reefs, and he knew that because he could see the bottom!  Let’s see, lots of oysters and clear water – is there a correlation? 

Overfishing and poor fishery management coupled with the introduced diseases Dermo and MSX, have decimated the oyster population of the Bay over the past 100 years, and it is our responsibility to help them come back.  Not only do they clean the water, but their vertical growth patterns create reefs that help slow the water flow allowing more sediments to settle out and providing shelter for fish and other marine life critical to the health of the Bay.  Plus, they’re dang good eating once you get past the gross factor.  (Get them fried or Rockefeller if you can’t stomach slurping them raw.)

During the class, Pat explained our role in CBF’s Oyster Restoration Program and what else they and others are doing to bring back the oysters, in both commercial fisheries and in sanctuaries all over the Bay.  Despite my environmental science degree, I knew nothing about the natural and enhanced life cycle of our oysters and their critical role in the ecosystem and economy. I learned a lot. 

Then we got to work.  First, we had to build our cages and pick up our “spat on shell.”  The embryos were raised at the Horn Point Oyster Hatchery in Cambridge, MD, then planted onto recycled, cleaned shells (baby oysters don’t like cocktail sauce) at CBF’s Oyster Restoration Facility in Shadyside, MD.

Nothing is easy with one working leg – I broke my knee skiing in Chile when I should have been sailing here. So I enlisted my sister, Kathy, to help out.  What better way to spend your birthday than mucking around with muddy oyster spat? 

Kathy helped carry everything while I tied the cages together and we set the spat out on the fixed docks at Osprey Point so they can grow over the winter in protected waters with a little loving care from their foster parents.  (Capt. Andrew was supposed to help, but he was a little late to the party – enjoying the breeze on Shardana…Slacker!)

Shardana Returning from a Sailing Charter.jpg

S/V Shardana

Preparing to Dock

We were finally ready to let them go and will be back every few weeks to clean them up and make sure the crabs haven’t gotten into the cages for their own oyster feast.

That evening, we capped off our service with a nice birthday dinner at Pearl on Main.  Don’t worry, while these were small, flavorful local oysters, nobody gets to eat my babies. After a season growing in peace, they’ll go to a nice, protected sanctuary to live out their lives in peace.  Come out for a charter next spring (our 2020 schedule has been posted) and you can help, too.


Hyper-Focus Photography and Sailing

By Thaddeus B. Kubis

Volume III. Issue 3.

Smart Device Photography By Thad Kubis at Osprey Point

I need to hyper focus, meaning I need to stay closely focused on any task to ensure that I fulfill the assigned task the best that I can. Sailing and photography, drawing as well, are my main tools to use this intense form of mental concentration that allows me to fully be in touch with my consciousness and convert an everyday experience into a memorable, positive  adventure  addition to add to my story.

Recently presented a seminar for Shardana Sailing Charters and Osprey Point Inn on smartphone/tablet photography.  The reviews and comments were all very positive which makes me feel good but I also realized that part of my “presentation skill set” is hyper-focusing on the task at hand. The audience was there in front of me, but also was a part of me and my presentation. I  was so intent on presenting the message “Smartphone Photography for the Sailor” that I went beyond the scope of presenting and became THE audience as well.

For me and perhaps for you,  great photos are composed in part by the photographer’s technical skill, equipment, and creative vision.  Certainly for me “hyper-focusing” on the subject is my other main “driver”.  The Zen term is being one with the task at hand. Some photographers use the term pre-visualizing and sailors use the term “in the groove” to define hyper-focusing.

Stop taking photos and start creating art!

New to hyper-focusing?

Smart Device Photography Sailing Students

Taking pictures is easy, you see something you like, raise the camera, smartphone or tablet and click the shutter. Creating art takes a few more steps and those steps include being aware of the light that paints the subject—-and the light is for many the “thing” that makes the image the image. Think about a scene or subject in the shadow, in the bright sun or in a muted lighting situation.  The dynamics of the image change based on the lighting.  The same is true with sailing.  Sailing in a light to moderate breeze has multiple levels of success, the force of the wind, the size of the boat and your skill set and that of your Captain/crew add to or take away from your experience – your story! When you are comfortable with your sailing skill set, you can sail in an intense wind. When you are comfortable with the boat, you can tack, gybe with ease and enjoy a greater level of the sailing experience. Part of your skill set, and comfort level is being able to concentrate (hyper-focus) on the task at hand, that is what I do when I teach sailing, Captain a Shardana charter, or take a photograph. I place myself (not lose myself) in the situation. Being hyper-focused makes any task easier, it removes the hard edge, the block that often is a key component, a restriction of any new or repetitive task. Hyper-focusing also reduces and in many cases removes the fear factor from the action you are undertaking.

Hyper focusing tips when:

Creating/visualizing an artful image              Sailing/Chartering a Sailboat

  1. Be aware of the light 1) Be aware of the conditions

  2. Understand the scene 2) Understand your skill set/comfort level

  3. Pre-visualize the image 3) Define the charter or sail

  4. Think of the viewer 4) Be involved at level that is acceptable to you

  5. What is YOUR end result? 5) Did the event add to your life’s story?

Simple?  Yes! Simple for all, be aware of the situation, often called “situational awareness” – danger lurks in the shadows and on the horizon. Define your goals and objectives, know your limits and your skill set, finally define the purpose of your adventure, be ready to learn, expand your skill sets and yes have fun. Hyper-focus on the situation and be in the moment— your moment and be ready to enjoy a great experience. Your experience!

When I Captain a charter or teach photography I attempt to allow all the crew or the students to be aware of the points listed above. I personally get involved wile allowing the photographer or crew to take the wheel; create an image and discuss what happened—good or bad.  I also ask they look beyond the task at hand and become the task at hand, closing their mind to the many distractions (for your safety, always being aware of your situation) that life brings and hyper-focus on your goal, action or objective.  You are now living in the moment, in the groove, sailing  and making your story.

Sailing and photography are more to me than just things to do.  These activities are deeply rooted in visceral and instinctive actions as THE things to do that all get better when I add hyper-focusing to the equation. This makes me one with the subject or scene… or wind, boat and water; making my life experiences  better, as they will for you.

Need to “feel” more, talk about hyper-focusing, photography or sailing, email me at and we can engage on this topic and more. Do you need a copy of my smartphone cheat sheet for sailors, let me know and I will email you the free cheat sheet?

Thad Kubis

U.S.C.G. Master

Captain, Shardana Sailing Charters


Hyper-Focus Guru

My Summer in Search of the Shardana

By Linda Meiberg, PhD

Volume III Issue 2

Akko at sunset

Akko at sunset

As a field archaeologist, I am used to spending my summers excavating in Israel, and intermittently since 2005, at the Philistine site of Tell es-Safi/Gath. Due to their biblical notoriety as adversaries of the Israelites, the Philistines are the best known of the Sea Peoples, various groups of seafaring emigrants with piratical tendencies who invaded Egypt around 1200 BCE and settled along the coast of southern Israel.

In 2018, I decided to make a change, and instead of excavating at Tell es-Safi, I spent the summer as a member of the Tel Akko Expedition in search of the Shardana. To most, the Shardana are not as well known as the Philistines. They are another group of Sea Peoples who are thought to have settled along the coast of northern Israel, and the remains of their material culture have, unlike the Philistines, been particularly elusive. As a Sea People, the Shardana may have taken their name from, or leant their name to the island of Sardinia. 

Linda Meiberg holding fragments of possible Shardana pottery

Linda Meiberg holding fragments of possible Shardana pottery

It was particularly poignant for me to begin working at Tel Akko, the site with the best chances for uncovering the material cultural remains of the Shardana, as the previous summer we had just launched our new Catalina 425 named after these elusive Sea Peoples. Admittedly, since my research focused on the Philistines, I had originally lobbied to name the boat “Phyllis Stein,” but Andrew and Davis quickly quashed my proposal. That is when friend and colleague, Tanya McCullough, suggested we name the boat after the more melodious sounding Shardana.

Although I love the process of excavation and the discovery of the finds on site, my time at Akko was spent back at the (air conditioned!) field school, registering the finds and sorting all of the many shards of ancient pottery coming out of the excavation. The field school, where the team sleeps, eats, and does the off-site office work, is located, by the way, at the Israel Nautical College right on the beach in the city of Akko, which trains cadets and officers, master mariners and nautical engineers for the merchant navy. On most mornings in the summer, you can see the Sea Scouts doing calisthenics on the beach and dragging their sailboats from the boat sheds into the waters of the Bay of Haifa.

At the end of the excavation season, I spent an additional two weeks in the archaeological storerooms at Haifa University where the finds from the previous seasons at Tel Akko are kept. My main task consisted of sorting through the artifacts, including pottery, as well as stone, shell, and metal objects, and even the odd cannon ball (Tel Akko had been the site of a battle between Napolean’s forces and the Ottomans) from a previous expedition to the site that occurred between 1973 and 1985. The work was not overly stimulating, but it was a lot of fun opening boxes of objects that hadn’t seen the light of day for some 35 years and discovering, almost anew, what lay inside. On my final day of work before returning home to Philadelphia, I opened a particularly moldy cardboard box, and, much to my excitement and surprise, I discovered the very type of 3,000 year old pottery that is attributed to the Shardana! This is a locally produced wheel-made fine ware with motifs almost identical to Philistine pottery dating to around 1200 BCE

Port of Akko

Port of Akko

As I prepare to embark on my second season as part of the Tel Akko Expedition in further search of the original Shardana starting in June, I realize that I won’t have much time to sail yet again this summer on S/V Shardana. Aside from the soft breezes, blue skies, and calm waters of the Chesapeake Bay, I enjoy meeting our clients, learning about them, and hearing their stories. For now, I must continue to excavate my story while you sail yours…

For more about the work we do a Tel Akko, see:

For more about the Israel Nautical College, see: