Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Legendary Chesapeake Skipjack Captains to Appear with Author Christopher White at Washington College

"Skipjack: The Story of America's Last Sailing Oystermen"

On Sunday, April 25th, Christopher White, author of the newly published and critically-acclaimed book, Skipjack: The Story of America's Last Sailing Oystermen (St. Martin's Press), will appear at the Decker Theatre on the campus of Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland. Joining White will be four legendary skipjack captains from the Eastern Shore, including 89-year old Captain Arthur Daniels, Jr. and his son Captain Stan Daniels, both of Deal Island, plus Captain Wade Murphy, Jr. and Captain Stanley Larrimore of Tilghman Island.

Skipjack: America's Last Sailing Oystermen is the story of a quickly vanishing way of life and a culture unique to the Chesapeake Bay. The skipjack, an iconic wooden sailing vessel, has been used for dredging oysters since the nineteenth century. Once numbering in the hundreds, the number of working skipjacks has fallen to little more than a handful as the annual oyster harvest has been drastically reduced due to disease, pollution, and mounting social and economic pressures. At Washington College, the author and captains will be speaking up about the traditions and future of this singular way of life. A way of life that has sustained the watermen and their communities for generations is now on the verge of extinction.

Christopher White moved to Tilghman Island for two years in order to immerse himself in the watermen's culture. During that time he crewed on skipjacks owned by the island's most formidable captains, such as Captain Wade Murphy, Jr. of the Rebecca T. Ruark and Captain Stanley Larrimore of the Lady Katie. White also ventured down to Deal Island to work with the Chesapeake's oldest working skipjack captain, 89-year old Arthur "Art" Daniels, Jr. and his sons and grandsons aboard the skipjack City of Crisfield.

The book that came of out this experience chronicles a life of hardship and frequent danger as these men work through the winter navigating unpredictable waters and an equally volatile economic seafood marketplace. The story beautifully reveals the abiding passion these watermen hold for working the waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

Skipjack: America's last Sailing Watermen is co-sponsored by the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience and the Center for Environment and Society at Washington College. The event will also include an exhibition of skipjack-inspired art, including photography by Marion Warren, A. Aubrey Bodine, M.C. Wooten, Constance Stuart Larrabee and others, plus ship models, poetry and a post-program reception. All events will take place in the Daniel Z. Gibson Center for the Arts at Washington College in Chestertown, Md.. The conversation with Christopher White and the Chesapeake watermen will begin at 5:00 p.m.

For more information or to make reservations, contact Michael Buckley, Program Manager, C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, Washington College (410) 810-7156, or emailmbuckley3@washcoll.edu. This event is free and open to the public but reservations are strongly suggested.

About the Starr Center

The C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience explores our nation's history—and particularly the legacy of its Founding era—in innovative ways. Through educational programs, scholarship, and public outreach, and especially by supporting and fostering the art of written history, the Starr Center seeks to bridge the divide between past and present, and between the academic world and the public at large. From its base in the circa-1746 Custom House along Chestertown's colonial waterfront, the Center also serves as a portal onto a world of opportunities for Washington College students. Its guiding principle is that now more than ever, a wider understanding of our shared past is fundamental to the continuing success of America's democratic experiment. For more information on the Center, visit http://starrcenter.washcoll.edu.

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