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Most Chesapeake Bay watermen work year-round, modifying their equipment to follow the seasons. In summer they may set hundreds of crab pots, every day checking, baiting and resetting them. In winter, they’ll install patent tongs for oystering. In fall and spring they may go after eels or finfish.
Perhaps no image of the Chesapeake Bay is more enduring than that of a waterman heading into the sunrise, the sharp bow of his bright white workboat slicing the glimmering water, his radio blaring as he listens to his friends discuss the day’s work ahead. Living in small, tightly knit waterfront communities, these men (and a few women) help define the very essence of the Chesapeake. A Bay without watermen would be diminished, a place without a part of its soul.
This tour takes visitors to three sites where they can learn about oyster dredgers and the oystering industry, visit the 1860s home of a buyboat captain, and learn about a waterman’s neighborhood that thrived until the 1960s.
Total mileage: 73.5 (one way)
Total travel time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
(The route includes a toll at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge)