GROWING UP ON THE WATER
Sanctuary Watch (SW): Did your family
work the water when you were
Craig Kelly (CK): No, but I grew up around
it. I was born and raised at Point Lookout, before
the state even thought of having a state
park down there. Y'know, being a seven- or
eight-year-old kid, catching crabs and oysters
and fish, I mean that's exciting as hell!
SW: How did you get hooked on the
CK: I was working with [a friend], and he'd
inherited fish nets from his dad, so I was helping
him, you see... we said, "Let's put some
crab pots out." Caught a few crabs, sold them,
next thing you know we was oysterin'. Then I
found a girlfriend and we kinda parted ways,
but I just picked up where we left off, and I've
been making a living out of it ever since.
Phil Watson (PW): I grew up on a farm,
my dad was a farmer and he was also a waterman,
and a lot of the time he would fish
gill nets. I'd go down with him and I'd sit in
the back of that boat and damn near freeze to
death. He'd never seem to get cold! I didn't
find out until later on in the years when I
started working the nets that when you're active
you don't get cold!
PW: We've had a lot of hours on the water,
fortunately, and to grow up in the area that I
grew up in and have access to the river and
the bay and marshland - I've had a good life.
A SPECIAL PLACE
SW: What makes the bay special?
Joe Scrivener (JS): There's so many
things here, it's not just crabs and fish and
oysters. It's the daggone ducks swimming up
and down this creek here, the seagulls, the
bald eagles we see around here all the time.
CK: The mama duck with the babies...
JS: ...the eggs that my grandson found that the
duck just laid down there underneath the truck.
Tommy Zinn (TZ): Sunrises, sunsets...
JS: When [charter passengers] ride out
there with us to go fishing in the morning,
and they get to see that sun come up over
that water, that's the only thing they can
think of when they get home, seeing that
sunrise, how we caught a fish this long...
TZ: At the Solomon's boardwalk, every
night during the summer there's probably 20
people taking pictures of the sunset. Doesn't
cost them a nickel. Don't have to be rich just
to come down and see some of the sights.
JS: Just take a picture right here, looking
down this creek out there to the river.
PW: You can't do any better than this. [laughs]
CHANGES IN THE CHESAPEAKE
SW: What kind of changes have you
seen in the Chesapeake over the
PW: I've seen so many changes. I'm 82
years old, and I've lived here all my life. One
of the biggest changes in the latter years is
the marshes where I live [along the Patuxent
River] are dying. I would safely say we're
losing at least two, maybe three feet of marsh
a year. In 50 years, a lot of places where we
have marsh now there's going to be all water.
TZ: Back in the day, guys from southern
Maryland used to go to the Eastern Shore and
tong over there during the good weather up
till Christmas because it was more productive.
Now, the average age of watermen is late 50's,
and they don't want to travel like they used to.
It's more competitive trying to work an area
where there used to be oysters everywhere.
SW: With all the changes you've
seen, do you think the Chesapeake is
losing a lot of what makes it special?
JS: I don't think anyone would ever lose
their love for this body of water. Craig, if
he quit crabbing tomorrow, he would still be
out there doing something... But to lose it
so you can't put your foot in the water or
your grandchildren can't go in there or even
be close to it because [they might get sick],
that's heartbreaking just to think about.
SW: You must feel protective of this
place, having spent so much of your
JS: It just makes you mad, because you love
it so much. But what can one person do? Unfortunately,
there's how many people on the
bay between here and the Susquehanna? It's
not just the five of us sitting at this table.
SW: Do you think bringing people
out on the water will give them a
greater appreciation for what makes
TZ: You try to encourage people to come
down and have a positive experience, soak
their feet in the bay, walk down the bay shore
and pick up some shells, get them to interact
or connect with that resource, and maybe that
can draw an appreciation for it like we do.
JS: You need to have some positive talk
about the bay, how valuable it is to us, how
pretty it is - the birds and everything else
TZ: They would see that it's just as important
as Mount Rushmore, or some of them landmarks...
That's our national monument right
here, the bay, and we want to preserve it, and
we want them to take care of it along with us.
SW: When you have a bunch of people
that care very deeply about someplace,
that's infectious, and that can
help others understand.
PW: Of course, no doubt about it.
JS: And that's probably what we need more
of here, too.
TZ: Joe probably spends half his time taking
fishing parties out, telling them the right
thing to do, and why he might do something
a certain way, and I hope some of it sinks
into those people.
TZ: I think maybe they will connect the dots
and say, "Hey, if we don't start cleaning up our
act this isn't going to get any better, it's going
to get worse. We're not going to have any more
watermen, they're all going to be tour guides!
They're all going to be in a museum."