The Story of America's Last Sailing Oystermen
Christopher is a science writer and a naturalist. He has served as a staff biologist for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and as Executive Director of the Mare Nostrum Foundation, a Belgium-based organization focusing on ocean policy. Skipjack: The Story of America's Last Sailing Oystermen. He writes extensively on science and natural history and has published five books. In 1978 White rented a cottage on Chesapeake Bay's Tilghman Island, a community not yet hit by the full force of the 20th century. He landed a job on the Rebecca J. Ruark built in 1886 and one of the last 18 working skipjacks - sailing vessels, protected by law since 1865, that still plied Maryland's Chesapeake waters dredging for oysters. He also got involved in all aspects of island life, participating in the annual skipjack races, helping out the welder who repaired ship parts and made the dredges the skipjacks used to harvest oysters, visiting neighbors, spending some time in the shucking house, hanging out at Gary's Store, participating in the conflicts between the skipjack dredgers and the tongers, repairing boats, and most of all dredging for oysters. He brings out the various pressures on the oysters - disease, environmental stresses, over harvesting, and government regulation and the economic stresses and social stresses on the watermen who man the skipjacks and harvest the oysters. White captures the life of a vanishing community and in articulating the various stresses, conflicts, and interactions his book reads like an adventure novel. His description of the sailboat races is some of the best writing on sailboat racing I have found. This is an enjoyable, informative, and well written book - a perfect companion to a glass of beer and a dozen oysters.
Books on Oysters