A certain mystique has always surrounded the watermen of the Chesapeake Bay. This book goes far toward defining it by taking the reader on a journey with the watermen as they harvest oysters, clams, fish, and crabs. The author was on board with the watermen, so he describes their work firsthand, including not only the practical details, but also the humorous and serious sides of a typical day. In documenting the work of the watermen, Blackistone tries to preserve what remains of their way of life. As fewer sons and daughters follow in the footsteps of their parents by working the water, the number of people who can convey the traditions of the watermen by oral history is gradually diminishing. Blackistone's concern for the potential loss of an entire subculture inspired his research for this book.
As a sequel to an earlier work that Blackistone published in 1989, Dancing with the Tide chronicles what has changed for the watermen over the last decade: how the changing conditions of the bay and new regulations have impacted their work life, what declining harvests have meant to them, and what the new millennium might hold for them and their families. Blackistone also interviewed government officials, conservationists, and watermen's association officers to incorporate other facets of this fascinating occupation which so captivates the public. Engaging photographs of the watermen at work highlight this documentary of a year in the life of these harvesters of the Chesapeake Bay.
By Mick Blackistone, hardcover, 266 pages