Summer is when we spend a lot of time on our boat, sailing on the Chesapeake Bay.
Summer is when the crabs have grown big enough and numerous enough that crabbers lay down a line baited every couple of feet. They have a buoy at each end and traverse the line, pulling it over a large hook on the side of the boat and scooping up the crabs in a long-handled net as the crabs rise with the bait, refusing to let go until the last minute. Sometimes the bait is chicken necks, giving this type of crabber the nickname of “chicken-necker,” regardless of whether chicken or shellfish is used for bait. Back and forth along this same line they go, all morning long. If the chicken-neckers are weekend crabbers, they are often excited when scooping up the larger crabs and exclaim loudly to their partner who is driving the boat, “Wow! That’s a big ‘un!” and “Oooh! Look at this one!” I suppose when one has gotten up early and been on the water for an hour, 5:30 a.m. must not seem too early to be loud, despite all the cruising boats nearby with occupants still trying to sleep. (Can you discern our location from these comments?)
This watercolor, painted on canvas, captures the repetitive moves of a professional crabber as he drives his boat back and forth along his baited line. This is a classic crabbing boat, and they usually bear a woman’s name, e.g. Emily, Nora, or Sara Mae. The name, Crabbin’ Cruiser, is a boat name we saw on a smaller open boat with weekend crabbers aboard, but I liked the pun and couldn’t resist using it as the title for this picture.