What’s a Waterman?

We are a small, privately-run, non-profit museum whose mission focuses on a very unique niche of American history and culture…The Watermen.  So, what’s a Waterman?

Some in California and Hawaii would try to tell you that their watermen are the surfers and recreational fishers.  But, we know better.  We rely on the definition handed down for generations, a definition the early colonists brought to America from England’s Thames River.

It’s simple…a Waterman is someone who makes their living on the water.  The regional commercial men and women who ‘drudge’ for clams, tong for oysters, pull crab pots, or haul shrimp or fishing nets are definitely Watermen.  And, if you ask local folks of the Chesapeake Bay, that’s who we all think of when the term is used.  However, Watermen are also those who operate tugs, ferries, and barges.  They’re Coasties and Navy sailors, and even a small group of maritime Army and Air Force folks.  And, Watermen are Marine Police, Fire Boat sailors, commercial cargo sailors, crews aboard tourism schooners, and more.

But, for the moment, lets just focus on the local commercial seafood gatherers we call Watermen.

Above, a pic of the deadrise boat, “Only Son” taken near Holiday Marina on the Severn River in Gloucester VA.

The link below shows some not-so-recent pics of area watermen and their crafts.

A Look Back at Some Commercial Watermen