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Captain Dan spent 10 years as an offshore commercial fisherman. His quarry was typically lobster, monk, scallops and sea bass and involved traveling out of Chincoteague from 10 to 60 miles offshore. During his last year as a commercial fisherman the vessel he was on broke a hull fitting below the waterline and started taking on water. It was on the verge of sinking before they overcame the problem. This was just as the Coast Guard rescue helicopter approached the boat. After they limped back to shore he reassessed his job risks and decided to take a position on land. He said while these 40 to 50 foot boats look large tied up at the dock, they really shrink when you are 60 miles off shore in the black of the night, with the wind pitching and tossing the boat and not a friendly light on the horizon. At the age of 31 Dan decided to go back to school and is currently pursuing an engineering degree. He graduated from the Eastern Shore Community College. He has arranged to transfer to Old Dominion University in the fall of 2012. Dan has been operating Capt. Dan's Island Tours for 5 years. To the right you find a picture of Dan learning his craft at the age of 4, in the slip next to what is now the Hampton Inn. On the left he is jumping into the R & R Boat Rental slip, circa 1983, which is where the lobby of the Hampton Inn is today. He is Coast Guard licensed as a Master, copy below, and qualified to operate inspected vessels of up to 50 gross registered tons.
Because of the timing conflicts that arose after Dan took the position onshore and going to school his father, Captain Ray started to assist him during the 2008 season. While Ray does not have the offshore experience that Dan has, he does have 60 years of experience on the inshore waters around the Island. To the left you see Ray with an apprentice, Gavin, Dan's son. Ray is the portly gentleman on the right. In the photograph to the right you see a picture of Ray circa 1949, also learning his trade in the same area that Dan started his 30 years later. Ray is also Coast Guard licensed as a Master, copy above, and qualified to operate inspected vessels of up to 50 gross registered tons. Ray is a certified Eastern Shore of Virginia ecotourism guide.
If you call for information or reservations Miss Abby, Dan's wife, will be the person who assists you. She is a certified Eastern Shore of Virginia ecotourism guide and is qualified to answer any questions you may have about our trips or the area. Above and to the left is Miss Abby getting the boat ready for the 2010 season. To the right is Miss Charlotte Ray, Dan and Abby's second child, who arrived in June of 2009.
The photograph below and to the right is Captain Dan's Great - Great Grandfather, Elijah Jester with Dan's Great Grandfather, C. Ray Jester in the pilot house of the "Susan P. Barns", Ray Jester's first boat. It was one of the three "Down the Bay" boats which he owned, the other two being the "Anna Belle" and "Norman James". The boats were used in his oyster business the "Jester Oyster Company", which was near the intersection of Main and Taylor street and is pictured below and to the right.
Continuing with the families nautical theme, below on the left is Dan's Great Grandfather's brother as pictured on the December 14th, 1942 cover of Life Magazine. Maurice Jester (pronounced Morris Jester locally) enlisted in the Coast Guard as a Surfman in 1917, working his way up to Chief Boatswain's Mate by 1935 while serving on five cutters. Commissioned as a Lieutenant and promoted to Lieutenant Commander, he was the first Coast Guardsman to earn the Navy Cross in World War II, and the first Coast Guard Officer to receive the award for a combat action in direct confrontation with enemy forces. He was the Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. ICARUS (WPC-110) during a successful action on 9 May 1942, with an enemy German submarine. The action resulted in the sinking of U-352 and the capture of its crew. The battle occurred 30 miles off shore of Topsail Beach, North Carolina. After retiring from the Coast Guard and returning to Chincoteague Maurice lived on the east side of Main Street in the vicinity of the Island Motor Inn's current location. This issue of Life Magazine also includes the early photographs released of the destruction at Pearl Harbor, many articles about war news and events, an article about the Coconut Grove fire and some remarkable advertisements. The image to the left is linked to a copy of the magazine.
The "Anna Belle", one of Ray Jesters boats, was chartered by the United States Navy on June 15, 1917 and commissioned from August, 1917 through December, 1918 as the "USS Anna Belle" (SP-1206). During WWI, the U.S. Navy purchased, borrowed, or leased private vessels and pressed them into service as Sectional Patrol Craft. Depending their design they would be used for coastal patrols, escorts, sea rescues, sub chasing, communication and navigation aids, and even as tugboats. At the war's end, many of these vessels were decommissioned and returned to their former owners. The Anna Belle was decommissioned and returned in December, 1918. The she was lost in the "62" Ash Wednesday storm only to be found washed up on a marsh below Wallops Island, a total loss. Dan's Great Grandfather removed her nameplates and brought them home.
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