Maryland's Skipjacks

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Chesapeake is an Algonquian word meaning "great shellfish bay," and for decades, the oyster was the undisputed king of Chesapeake Bay shellfish. Early settlers reported them to be as large as dinner plates, and the reefs or rocks in which they livedwere large enough to be hazards to navigation. In 1884, fifteen million bushels of oysters were harvested and shipped around the world. The skipjack was the perfect vessel for sailing into the Chesapeake Bay's shallow waters and dredging for oysters, and each winter, hundreds of these wooden craft set out across the bay's cold waters. The oyster population of the 21st century is a fraction of what it once was, and the skipjacks have disappeared along with them. No longer economically viable, the boats have been left to rot in the marshes along the bay. Only 25 boats are still operational, and fewer than five still dredge.
ISBN: 9780738553634
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing
State: Maryland
Series: Images of America
Images: 200
Pages: 128
Dimensions: 6.5 (w) x 9.25 (h)
Author David Berry, a writer and longtime sailor, has spent many hours volunteering on the skipjack Martha Lewis. He has selected images that capture the simple, elegant functionality of these historic sailing vessels and remind readers that a key part of Maryland's past is disappearing. Numerous efforts are in place to save the remaining skipjacks and to reestablish the oyster in the Chesapeake Bay, but the days captured in these photographs are gone forever.
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