Today, we're wending through the marshy channels of the Machipongo River, past mounded islands that are home to deer, fox, and white-tailed rabbit. We pause in the vast spread of Broadwater Bay to absorb the hypnotic sound of Atlantic brant, the birds issuing odd, basso croaks like frogs clamoring beside a creek. We watch a peregrine falcon vectoring in low, and finally stroll past wild blackberry, wax myrtle, and stands of black pine to arrive at a dune ridge overlooking the Atlantic.
In the early 1900s, Hog Island was home to the village of Broadwater, a thriving community of about 250 people, with 60-plus homes, a church, three general stores, a post office, a school, and an ice-cream parlor. What was once Broadwater now rests a quarter-mile out to sea. The island migrated out from under it.
Waves unfurl, their tops blown back in vapor-trail wisps by a light wind blowing refrigerator cool. The beach is smooth as velvet. There are no footprints.
Kellam grins. "I hereby proclaim Hog Island beach mine for the day."