NAPS Launches Cockrells Creek Cleanup Flotilla (with slideshow)



With clear skies and calm seas, 48 volunteers helped to remove trash from Cockrells Creek during the 2022 NAPS Creek Cleanup, Sunday, October 9, hosted by the Northumberland Association for Progressive Stewardship (NAPS) with essential support from Omega Protein and Smith Point Sea Rescue. The event was originally planned for Sunday Oct. 2 but was postponed due to the forecast of bad weather from the remnants of Hurricane Ian.


The land base of operations was the “Stack” at Omega Protein in Reedville. After a lunch for all participants at noon, six skiffs of cleanup teams set out to comb 20-plus miles of shoreline and return to the land base with boatloads of trash. As a safety precaution, a 3-man volunteer crew from Smith Point Sea Rescue – Captains Charlie Staker, Bill Turville, and Bruce Witkowski – stood watch aboard the Rescue 1.



A trash sorting crew at the “Stack” documented the haul and pulled out material that could be recycled or reused. The trash was disposed of in two dumpsters provided by Omega Protein, and the recyclable, reusable, and oversized items were placed in a large trailer. “Even the trailer was loaded to the top,” said Mike Ahart, NAPS Creek Cleanup team leader.


An estimated 3,500 pounds of refuse was removed from the waterways and shoreline including hundreds of bottles and cans, several tires, furniture, abandoned oyster floats, scrap metal, parts of a kitchen range, and a wide array of other items. NAPS awarded prizes to the teams with the largest total haul, largest/heaviest single item, and most unusual item.

The “Largest Total Haul” and “Largest/Heaviest Object” prizes were awarded to the crew of Captain Deihl’s skiff: Lyryc Bea, Jaden Bundy, Tory Jett, Taliaferro Pearson, Landon Shirilla and Luke Sisk. The team's haul included a fully-intact waterlogged Adirondack chair and several tires, including a truck tire full of silt and live oysters. The team also dredged out two full oyster floats that had been reported as abandoned.


The “Most Unusual Item” prize was awarded to the crew of Captain Hall’s skiff, Haleigh Burrell and Amiya Lee, who recovered a message in a bottle that read “You should look around you.”


Part of an earthenware liquor jug circa 1890 labeled “S. Stansberg, Importer and Wholesale Liquor Dealer, South West Corner of Pratt and Sharp Streets, Baltimore, MD” was another interesting item recovered.



Each registered participant was awarded a NAPS “Trash Crab” T-shirt and offered a reusable grocery bag.


One of the Smith Point Sea Rescue skiffs with its crew of trash pickers made a rescue during the event, towing a disabled jet ski back to the Shell Landing boat ramp before getting back to trash picking.


Members of the volunteer trash crews were Becca Baker, James Baker, KJ Ball, Lyryc Bea, Jaden Bundy, Ashton Burns, Haleigh Burrell, Gracey Dameron, Eleysia Downing, William Downing, Tory Jett, Quinton Jones, Amiya Lee, Karmen Lucas, Regan Lucas, Brady Mullins, Taliaferro Pearson, Ann Rice, Cason Rogers, Landon Shirilla, Parker Shirilla, Camdin Sisk, Luke Sisk, and Emileah Weatherford.


The volunteer skiffs captains and mates were Dan Benjamin, Heather Cockrell, Mary Deihl, Monty Deihl, Robert Gwaltney, Andy Hall, Terry McLaughlin, Pete Ortiz, Kendra Simpson, Buddy Sylvia, and Shannon Wilkins.


A land-based support crew organized the effort, set up lunch, helped unload the boats returning with their “catch,” and sorted the trash: Mike Ahart, Karen Baker, Arthur Carver, Christyn Loving, Gena McKinley, Lesley Newman, Anna Pridgen, Kristen Shirilla, Stacie Talbot, and Katie Wilkins.


The NAPS Creek Cleanup was funded by Omega Protein and NAPS. Omega Protein funded the lunch, provided the land base venue, dumpsters, and two of the skiffs with captains and mate. Special thanks to Smith Point Sea Rescue for providing a safety boat and crew, two additional Sea Rescue skiffs with captains/mates, an additional skiff/captain/mate privately owned by a Sea Rescue member, and additional land base help.


NAPS also thanks the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service for providing no-cost accident insurance for registered participants, Friends of the Rappahannock for providing trash grabbers, and Virginia Clean Waterways for providing gloves, trash bags and other support.



It’s always inspiring to see the students working together and having fun while cleaning our creeks,” said Gena McKinley, NAPS president.