What is a Waterman?
by Jennings Evans
From the Summer 1993 issue of the Crisfield & Smith Island Newsletter
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.
Aloha and Mahalo for reading ;)