Friday, April 27, 2007

What is a Waterman?

Well besides my wonderful handsome husband that is.

To be honest a few years ago I would have answered this question with a very strange look followed directly by.. "WHAT??? YOU MUST BE KIDDING!!! RIGHT???" Now I answer in a more dignified way.. with "OH PPPUUUULLLLLLEEEEZZZZEEEE!!" followed with a big eye roll!

Just kidding Marie.

In all seriousness I found out a few years ago that the term "waterman" is very localized term used on the Chesapeake Bay. It means just what it says actually, it is a man who works on the water. It doesn't matter what his catch is, fish, crabs, clams, or oysters. If he gets up at the crack of dawn and is on his boat or if he works all night does not matter. What matters is that he makes his living from what he catches on the bay.

When the question was asked I did a quick google search and I found this poem written by Jennings Evans. I felt that it summed everthing up beautifully and truthfully.

What is a waterman?
Well, that's not easy to define
But he comes from a special breed
He's usually not the wimpish kind.
He's dedicated to making a living
From a blustery Bay
That can be unrelenting
On any given day.

Each day becomes a battle
For which he must prepare
To fight against the summer's heat
Or the winter's chilling air.

A waterman has to endure it all
The wind, the ice, the rain
Nothing comes easy to him
Except the aches and pains.

Sometimes a waterman is not understood
By his fellow man
His ways are rough and rugged
He's not satisfied too long on land.

Sometimes he's witty and humorous
Sometimes he's an ornery old goat
But what seems to make him the happiest
Is when he's aboard of his boat.

You might say a waterman lives
An unusual way of life
He spends more time with his boat
Than he does with his wife.

Of course, he will try to make sure
His wife isn't completely ignored
If there's extra work on the boat to do
He'll try to lure the old gal aboard.

Now the watermen's news is usually heard
Down at the General Store
Where each waterman can communicate
Or even take the floor.

Many topics are discussed
But the most popular form of gab
Almost always boils down
To nothing but oysters and crabs.

It's the pursuit of oysters or crabs
That make the waterman's day
He's very hard to live with
When he can't get out on the Bay.
A waterman must have a special knowledge
To keep his boat and rig in shape
It's really surprising how much he can fix
With a piece of wire or tape.

And then a waterman's disposition
Is not completely sour
Except, maybe when he has to arise
In the wee, early morning hours.

But he can be downright entertaining
When he spins a yarn for you
And he's certainly not above
Throwing you a curve or two.

But it would be a sad old day
Should the independent waterman
Be forced to leave the Bay.

Big corporations with their smooth operations
Would quickly move in with their slick manipulations
And then, where do you think the watermen would be
Of course, working for "The Big Man" and no longer free.

Yes, these are times of apprehension
When a waterman can't clearly see
What lies ahead for the Chesapeake Bay
Or what his catch will be.

Still he must be determined
To have the faith, and hope
That with the good Lord's help, he'll make it
Along with his trusty old boat.

What is a waterman?
He's just a man, who works on the sea
Who helps provide the food
That God has given to you and me.

May God bless all the watermen
As they toil on the Bay each day.
And may he always watch over the watermen
The colorful watermen of the Chesapeake Bay.

Just for your futher enjoyment this is a little peek at what my Waterman does.

For the record waterman have always been my heros. I love you guys. Grandaddy, Pop, Uncle Tay, Uncle Bill, RoRo may all of you be working the bay in heaven hauling in record catches. To my guys still here, My Waterman, JW and Gunsmoke, I worry, it is what I do, but for you all I hope the day comes that the tides turn.


  1. I just smile and feel happy whenever I come here and read what you write about Waterman. Because it is SO evident how purely and completely you love him! Awww...there is just NOTHING better, and my heart is so happy for you! I am up to my ample a** in a huge house project right now, so for about the next week I will not know if I'm coming or going, so I'll talk to ya "sometime or another" HA!

  2. Ahhhhh...(can you see the lightbulb of understanding above my head!) Thanks for answering my question and soooo well too! I loved the poem, and the little movie of your waterman at work! I should have known coming from Nova Scotia, but I guess we learn something new every day! As ever a very entertaining and enlightening post! Thanks!