“As a self-proclaimed ‘Seaford Boy,’ I didn’t realize until I was in college just how fortunate I was to grow up in Seaford,” says Scott James.
A long-time yacht broker at Bluewater Yacht Sales, James grew up on York County’s Chisman Creek. Everyday life meant catching minnows off his family’s dock, holding stinging nettle fights with buddies, fishing crab pots, and jumping into his 15-foot skiff to explore his world from the Goodwin Islands at the mouth of the York River to the Big Salt Marsh at the mouth of the Poquoson River.
“I was allowed anywhere inside York Spit Light, as far as my six-gallon gas tank would run my 25-hp Evinrude.”
Seaford is an unobtrusive, quiet community just east of the bustle of Route 17 in York County, away from stoplights and the Yorktown Battlefield, a true rural Chesapeake water community lying quietly on the outer edge of Newport News and Hampton. It sits on Crab Neck, the middle of three peninsulas, between Back Creek and Chisman Creek. To the north is Goodwin Neck, between the York River and Back Creek, and to the south, Fish Neck between Chisman Creek and the Poquoson River. Here you will find the community of Dandy on Goodwin Neck and the little town of Dare on Fish Neck. Docks with deep water sprout from all three creeks’ lacy shorelines. Boats abound, from kayaks and skiffs like James’, to large cruisers and workboats, including members of Virginia’s seagoing scallop fleet.
As James points out, there’s plenty for an avid boater to explore. Two quintessentially lower Chesapeake natural shorelines flank the mouths of the creeks.
The Goodwin Islands to the north, shaped over millennia by sediment flowing naturally out of the mouth of the York River, now form a National Estuarine Research Reserve, protected under the ownership of the College of William & Mary and managed by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. To the south is the Big Salt Marsh, officially the Plumtree Island National Wildlife Refuge. In between lie the extensive eelgrass meadows of the Poquoson Flats. Outside lies the open Chesapeake, especially the miles-long underwater peninsula that forms York Spit.
Habitat abounds for fish— from white perch in the creeks to speckled trout in the waters around the grass meadows to big red drum and cobia in the open water. Crabbing and clamming are popular recreational pursuits, and in late summer, a forager with a cast net can even gather a meal’s worth of the large shrimp that are visiting this part of the Bay in ever-increasing numbers.
The broad open waters invite sailors, but Seaford is close enough to bigger towns like Yorktown, Poquoson, and even Hampton for easy dockside dining runs.
The human history of this area goes back to centuries of the Kecoughtan people fishing and oystering. English settler and future House of Burgesses member James Goodwin acquired what is now Goodwin Neck in 1660, and members of the family have lived there ever since, blending with other local clans.
One member of the Goodwin family who has happily returned to the area is Jennifer Hall, who, with her husband Chris, has purchased the former Dare Marina and Yacht Sales facility. They have renamed it Legasea Marine with the intent to build it into a strong, full-service resource for regional boaters that also respects the three centuries of the community’s maritime history and the rich Chesapeake natural resources that surround it. They have retained many of the marina’s highly experienced staff members while encouraging some local young people to take up skilled marine trades.
It’s one more reason why the future looks bright for more Seaford boys, girls, and families.