Chesapeake Bay waterman Thomas Reed Eskridge of Deltaville, Va., and formerly of Tangier Island, Va., has his 30' x 10.5' glass over wood deadrise up on the hard at Chesapeake Cove Marina in Deltaville.

Eskridge is doing his own work on the boat with some assistance from Bob and Bo Reiner, owners of Chesapeake Cove. The Reiners assisted Eskridge in installing a new John Deere 6068 engine and new fuel tank.

The waterman, on his own, replaced the flooring in the bottom the boat. The 30-footer was built by David Mason of Chesapeake Boats in Crisfield, Md., in 2002 and is one of two boats Eskridge owns and works. He also has a 42-foot wooden Willard Norris–built deadrise that he has moored in Newport News, Va.

He purchased the Norris boat from his grandfather Allen Crockett, a well-known retired watermen on Tangier. Eskridge works in the bay’s blue crab and oyster fisheries and in the Atlantic Ocean conch (whelk) fishery.

The advantage of having two boats is that one can be moored near the mouth of Chesapeake Bay and accessible to ocean conch, while the other boat can be moored close to where crabbing is good.

The smaller boat is a better size for Virginia’s winter public oyster dredge fishery. The Virginia Marine Resources Commission limits watermen to working a 22-inch-wide dredge and to eight bushels per day on public oyster rock. It is more cost effective to oyster in a 30-foot deadrise boat versus a 42-footer.

“I can’t say enough about the Reiners,” says Eskridge. “They have given me good advice and given me a place to work on my boat. That means a whole lot to a waterman!”

Larry Chowning is a writer for the Southside Sentinel in Urbanna, Va., a regular contributor to National Fisherman, and the author of numerous books.

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