Oyster Dredging


There was a time when hundreds of wind driven vessels called "skipjacks" sailed the Chesapeake Bay in search of oysters. Their crews were hard working men, pushed to the limits of their endurance, competing for a share of the harvest -- challenging the elements while dredging under sail. Those days are gone, some say never to return! However, a rare opportunity exists to experience life aboard a working skipjack.

During November each year the Chesapeake Heritage Conservancy offers Discovery Dredging  -- a hands on, once in a lifetime opportunity to work with a crew dredging for the succulent bivalves. You help with the hauling of dredges and the culling of oysters.

For just $125.00 (per person) you will experience 6 hours of sailing on the Skipjack Martha Lewis, participate in dredging operations, and get to keep up to two dozen oysters if we have a successful catch! You will be a "waterman" for the day so you must be prepared -- you will want to bring along rubber boots, brimmed and cold weather hat, thin warm gloves, heavy-duty rain gear, and a change of clothes. The weather can be quite "interesting" in November.

Take a look at a gallery of photographs of CHC "watermen" in action captured by long time CHC volunteer Amy Kehring. VIEW )  Here is a YouTube video of a typical workday on the Martha Lewis:


In what year was the observation below made about Chesapeake Bay Oysters? (ANSWER)

"No one who is familiar with the history of the oyster beds of other parts of the world can be surprised at the deterioration of our own beds. Everywhere, in France, in Germany, in England, in Canada, and in all northern coast states, history tells the same story.  In all waters where oysters are found at all they are usually found in abundance, and in all of these places the residents supposed that their natural beds were inexhaustible until they suddenly found that they were exhausted.  The immense area covered by our own beds has enabled them to withstand the attacks of the oystermen for a much longer time, but all who are familiar with the subject have long been aware that our present system can have only one result -- extermination."