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Featured Tour

Watermen in the Southern Bay (Driving Tour)


Watermen make their living harvesting the Bay’s finfish, shellfish, eels and crabs. Independent and self-employed, they own their boats and choose their catch. It’s a tough, physically demanding way of life, and it’s been going on for hundreds of years.

Their profession is as diverse as the Bay’s species. There are pound netters, crabbers (soft-shells and hard-shells, employing completely different techniques and gear), oyster dredgers, hand-tongers, gill-netters, clammers. Over generations, they have developed boat designs, gear and fishing methods unique to the Chesapeake.

This tour visits three sites in the lower half of the Chesapeake to explore the history of the men who followed the menhaden fishery, the culture of traditional Virginia watermen, and an island community built around the watermen’s life.

Total mileage:  62 (one way from Yorktown to Reedville)
Total travel time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
(The Reedville ferry to Smith Island takes approximately 1.5 hours.  Visit to learn about ferry times, reservations, and rates.)