September 18, 2019, 12:37:13 PM
 
*
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?
 
 
 
Total time logged in: 0 minutes.
 
   Home   Help Login Register  

     
 

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

Pages: [1]   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Interesting read about commercial life on the Chessie 80 years ago  (Read 513 times)
0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
Crabbyd
Lifetime Member
*
Offline Offline

Gender: Male
Posts: 8728
Location: SoMD


5 girls....and DONE!!!!!




Ignore
« on: June 11, 2019, 07:09:12 AM »

https://www.dorchesterbanner.com/local-history/lost-at-sea-80-years-after-the-tragic-bay-accident/

Lost at sea: 80 years after the tragic Bay accident

Feb 4th, 2019 · by Susan M. Bautz
 
Ahh, sailing under blue skies with the hint of a breeze – just enough to fill the sails and scoot over the Bay to a secluded cove for the weekend. Calm waters with no hint of wind driven, white capped waves. Oh, maybe a brief shower and 15 knot winds would be exciting for a short spell.
But talk to a waterman. The truth is the Chesapeake Bay is captivating but unpredictable. A clear summer day can turn into a raging storm in minutes and leave in its wake torn sails, frightened passengers, a lost dingy. On Feb. 3, 1939 nothing was farther from a picture perfect day for the Bay skipjacks and the watermen who sailed them.

After a week of 12-14 hour long, backbreaking days the Oyster Fleet was heading to Cambridge to sell their catch. Eighteen-year-old crewman George Wheatley Sr. woke early aboard the skipjack Annie Lee to a thick fog. He would spend the next hours dredging for oysters with the captain and crew. He never imagined it was the last time he would ever see them.
His son, Pastor George Wheatley Jr., has stories to tell. A great storyteller, he has a way of making the past come alive. You can feel what the life of a waterman is like with the joys of a good catch, the worry about a poor harvest, the apprehension of an unexpected storm, and the physical burden of bringing in a catch. He says, on that cold, foggy day in February, “My grandfather was lost and every one of the men on three skipjacks was lost except my dad.”

Born and raised in south Dorchester, George Jr. worked with his father on the water. “I started when I was 16 years old,” he says. “First thing he taught me was crab potting, and I crab potted during the summer for two years. The next thing he taught me was trot lining. When I was 10 years old and off for school for Christmas he took me with him and taught me how to hand tong the oysters. It was extremely hard work.” Two uncles were skipjack captains and he worked as a skipjack deck hand.
He explains the tension of being constantly alert when the dredges come rushing aboard, oysters are dumped, culled and the next dredge arrives. It’s hard, punishing work. He learned to read the wind, set the sails, and work the skipjacks over the oyster beds. He felt the different vibrations through the dredge’s steel cable over the various bottoms in a search for the oyster beds.

After George Jr.’s graduation in 1965 his parents were thrilled that he accomplished something they were not able to do – get a high school education. His dad told him, “My prayer is that you never have to work the water. But, if you have to, at least you know how.” He says, “I’m so thankful I didn’t have to do it. My hat’s off to the watermen because it’s an extremely hard lifestyle. Going crabbing you have to get up at 3:30 a.m. and usually you don’t get home until 5:30 p.m. Tonging, we got out at 5 or 5:30 a.m. but the weather is so cold.”

In the winter of 1939 George Sr. was working aboard the Anna Lee. There were five on the dredge boat including Captain Theodore Woodland, George Sr., Emerson Wingate, Glen Roberts and Sam Brown. The Agnes, another skipjack, captained by William Bradford, had a crew of four: Tim Roberts, Aaron Ammaos, Rodney Jones and Robert Elliot. All but George Sr. died on Feb. 3, 1939.
From his post George Sr. saw a storm on the horizon that looked like a black curtain of fog and water closing in on the fleet, which had been sailing on water as still “as glass” – all sails up. Suddenly the winds roared and hit the boats like a runaway freight train. Witnesses say they saw a tornado over the water that whipped them around like toys. No one could stand up, three boats from the party of over 20 work boats were hit broadside and before the crew could turn the boat into the wind they capsized. “Dad said when the skipjack turned over he remembers going to the bottom of the bay because his hip boots filled up with water and dragged him down. He kicked his feet out, left his boots on the bottom and rose 22 feet to the surface.”
George Sr. hung onto the rescue skiff’s stern in the freezing water and did not let go until he was rescued. He remembered nothing of the rescue until he came to in port, suffering from hypothermia.
Miraculously, although sails were shredded only three of the 20 boats capsized, one of which, the Nora Lawson, capsized in shallow water off Howell’s Point and the crew was rescued. George Sr. watched as Capt. Woodland sank to the bottom, rose to the top, and sank for a final time beneath the water. “The deckhands couldn’t swim and dad said they were the last ones to go. They were trying to climb on the skiff. You have to just hold on to it not climb. He saw them drown. He said it was so cold and the wind was so hard the tops were blowing off the waves.”

The skipjack Geneva May, captained by Bill Hubbard, saw the overturned skiff and people in the water and knew he could only make one pass by them. If the rope he was holding missed he could not get back. George Jr. said his dad told him it looked like the boat was moving at 100 mph. The rope had to reach the overturned skiff. “The only thing dad remembered is taking that rope, biting it with his teeth and holding on with both hands. He looked like a water skier. There are a lot of people who forgot this tragedy had even happened, but it was the worst oyster fleet accident in the state “
“My great grandfather and his whole crew were lost on the Agnes. I want people to understand how hard the job is and how much appreciated the watermen need to be. Even today with hydraulic haulers. The dredging fleet, the skipjacks, have all but disappeared. In 1964 I could walk from one side of Cambridge Creek to the other almost across the skipjacks.” No more. There is only a handful left.

A 10-minute monster of wind and rain sought and found victims to take but left George Wheatley Sr. to tell the harrowing tale of the most deadly storm in skipjack history. He returned to work the water until his death in 2009 at almost 90 years of age. It’s the lifeblood of these determined, tough, hard people who work the water.

Susan Bautz is a freelance writer for the Dorchester Banner.
Logged

"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, a crab in one hand, a beer in the other, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -- WOW--What a Ride!"
tattoo
Lifetime Member
*
Online Online

Gender: Male
Posts: 77923
Location: Glassboro NJ.


MY BOAT CRAB TRAP


WWW

Ignore
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2019, 07:17:00 AM »

good read , enjoyed it
Logged

A CRAB A DAY KEEPS THE DOCTOR AWAY.   

Click Here To Mount Your Crab
jack1747
Lifetime Member
Global Moderator
*
Offline Offline

Gender: Male
Posts: 18878
Location: Virginias Eastern Shore - Pocomoke Sound


Crab'n is a way of life....


WWW
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2019, 07:30:42 AM »

The truth is the Chesapeake Bay is captivating but unpredictable. A clear summer day can turn into a raging storm in minutes er.

My Avatar is from years ago when the boat was lost in a freak storm crossing from Crisfield to Tangiers.  I don't remember the names and details anymore. I do remember the day.  It was a strange, beautiful day in the winter. The weather went from a sunny warm day to a blowing ice storm.  In less then 15 minutes.  Everything was covered in thick ice.

Three commercial crab boats left Crisfield.  They were talking via the vhf when the storm hit.  The center boat, the one in my avatar, just disappeared off the radar.  No call for help.  Never found a trace of it. 
Logged

"Helping to Moderate the BCA since 2003" "I've gotten to the point in my life where I no longer give a [shiz] what people think, I'm not going to take any [shiz], because, frankly my dears, I am NOT in the [shiz] business." Quote from Suzy. :-)
Seaweed
Lifetime Member
*
Offline Offline

Gender: Male
Posts: 6135
Location: Maryland


Beware of the guy in orange




Ignore
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2019, 04:28:46 PM »

My Avatar is from years ago when the boat was lost in a freak storm crossing from Crisfield to Tangiers.  I don't remember the names and details anymore. I do remember the day.  It was a strange, beautiful day in the winter. The weather went from a sunny warm day to a blowing ice storm.  In less then 15 minutes.  Everything was covered in thick ice.

Three commercial crab boats left Crisfield.  They were talking via the vhf when the storm hit.  The center boat, the one in my avatar, just disappeared off the radar.  No call for help.  Never found a trace of it. 

Donnie Crockett
Logged

Git 'r dun!
discover
Lifetime Member
*
Offline Offline

Gender: Male
Posts: 7761
Location: claymont de





Ignore
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2019, 05:20:30 PM »

Very cool. Thanks for sharing
Logged

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

Mr. Ray III
Lifetime Member
*
Offline Offline

Gender: Male
Posts: 5628
Location: Elkton, MD





Ignore
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2019, 05:52:14 PM »

An under estimated force is mother nature when on the water.  I've been on the water all my life and I am still impressed, surprised, and humbled at the same time.  But another even more under estimated fact is literally how fast things can go from flat calm to a storm like posted above in an instant.  I can say that unless you live in a constant state of hyper-alertness, you won't see it coming.
Logged

Watermen and Seafood, Can't Have One Without The Other
rj
Member
*
Offline Offline

Gender: Male
Posts: 100
Location: Quinby, Va




Ignore
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2019, 12:23:34 AM »

Last week here on the shore.  we could hear & see a thunderstorm to our south but this seemed to come out of nowhere, coming from the west,  headed in our dirrection
Logged
bgfishhook1
Lifetime Member
*
Online Online

Gender: Male
Posts: 2462
Location: Lancaster County pa





Ignore
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2019, 10:30:26 PM »


 Thank you Duane for a good read. I don't know where this tragedy happened but I have a feeling it was somewhere near Crisfield Maryland. Many years ago my Bride and I left Crisfield on the ferry boat going to Tangier Island, I remember it well we ate  at Hildie Crockett house Family style, somewhere I have pictures of the Ferry boat that took us to Tangier Island . My Bride and I stayed over night at a lady named Mrs Dize's  home . While we were there I had the pleasure to talk to a group of men standing someplace , I asked them if they Trot - lined down here and one of them said it was just starting but for the most part they crabbed with pots, I think that this was in the late 1980s.
We had a great time while we were there and I bought two steak knives and two crab knives at the Carvel Store , which is no longer there .

  Bobby G  AKA BGFISHHOOK1
« Last Edit: June 20, 2019, 08:03:57 PM by bgfishhook1 » Logged

Get it on !
A good one to remember is !
Keep your friends close, BUT keep your enemies CLOSER !
I am nobody, and nobody is perfect, therefore I am _________!
A truth that's told with bad intent  beats all the lies you can invent.
It's hard to be humble when you're as great as I am ! JUST JOKING.
I thought that I made a mistake once , but I was WRONG.
Remember " A rose by any other name will smell just as  sweet  "
crabbymike17
Lifetime Member
*
Offline Offline

Gender: Male
Posts: 559
Location: Maryland, Chesapeake Mid-bay


The Crab Reaper




Ignore
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2019, 11:39:52 PM »

Cool story D.  Thanks for sharing.
Logged
Radio
Registered User

Offline Offline

Gender: Male
Posts: 18
Location: Eastern Shore of Maryland




Ignore
« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2019, 05:32:45 PM »

Thanks, good story. We sail on the Chesapeake and the afternoon summer storms come up real fast and can be very strong from the west,
in most cases.
Logged

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

Pages: [1]   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

 
 
Home
 
Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
Simple Audio Video Embedder


Google visited last this page June 11, 2019, 04:10:51 PM