Our August boatbuilding story, which you’ll find on page 28, is a good-news story for several reasons. For one, anytime our longtime field editor Larry Chowning, who pens our Around the Yards South column, delivers a boatbuilding story, it’s good news. Larry has shared his knowledge and affection for the region’s vessels and boatbuilders with NF readers for many years.
For another, the Charlotte Catherine, built by J.C. Kinnamon Construction on Maryland’s Tilghman Island, is a good-looking 39-foot fiberglass-over-wood deadrise workboat. She’s more than just a pretty face, though.
The Charlotte Catherine, built for Chesapeake Bay waterman Thomas Lee Walton of Urbanna, Va., (that’s Walton at the boat’s control at left) will harvest blue crabs and oysters. She is big enough to easily cover a wide expanse of open water, is ruggedly built, has plenty of power, and her high, skinny bow will help her move easily into oncoming seas.
Her construction also indicates changing fortunes for Virginia’s oyster harvesters. The diseases MSX and dermo devastated the historic oyster fishery for years. But a resurgence in the Virginia fishery is afoot.
Management measures such as rotating public oyster grounds have helped rejuvenate the oyster beds. Over the past decade, Virginia’s oyster harvest has risen from 23,000 bushels with a dockside value of $575,000 in 2001 to 250,000 bushels worth $8.25 million last year.
That resurgence led Walton to have Kinnamon build the boat for Walton’s sons, Lee and Scott, to go oystering and crabbing. He named the Charlotte Catherine after his mother, who, along with her sister, ran Payne’s Crab House in Urbanna for years before retiring in 2012.
With Father’s Day on the horizon (that’s Sunday, June 16 if you need to get your dad a card and/or a present), it’s great to read a story that turns out in part to be about a dad having a boat built for his sons who finds a wonderful way to show his love and respect for his mother.