TOOLS OF THE TRADE

A BAYMEN’S BOAT

On any giving day you will always spot a baymen harvesting shellfish from their boat in the Oyster Bay Harbor. Most boats range from 18′ to 24′ in length and are all open deck boats that  allows for the most usable work area. The most common brands are Steiger Craft, C-hawk, Privateer, Roemarine and Carolina Classic. These hulls give the baymen years of reliable service. All of these boats are powered with outboard motors ranging from 50hp to 300hp. These motors are dependable and never need to be winterized  in the extreme cold conditions.

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RAKES

All clam rakes operate and look very similar but there are many variations. Some rakes have a larger holding capacity, while others are different because  the size of the teeth (cutting edge) that scratches the bay bottom. For instance if the baymen is digging in a muddy soft bottom he will most likely be using a long tooth rake ( 3-4 inch tooth bar). If the bay bottom is a hard sand he then would be using a shorter tooth ( 2 inch tooth bar). The width of a rake also ranges from 14 – 36 inches wide. The wider the rake the harder it is to pull. Every couple of weeks these rakes need to be re-toothed or resharpened at a cost around $80.  While a new rake will range from $200 to $400 depending on the design and material it is made of (steel or stainless steel).Without constant maintenance on these rakes the baymen’s catch will lessen if he neglects his equipment.

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SAILS/ TIDE SHEETS

Because it is against New York state and town law to use any vessel under power when you are digging for shellfish the baymen rely on sails.   By using a sail, similar to a sailboat, it collects the wind and moves the boat for easier digging conditions. If there is no wind baymen are able to use these same sails as tide sheets by dropping them into the water and letting the current pull them.  During slack tide (no movement either way in the tidal stream) and no wind its very hard to harvest your catch. Most baymen will take a break and wait for a change in conditions.

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Other equipment required on the boat are items such as a cull rack. This is used to sort out your catch by clam size. Clam bags to hold your catch. Coolers with ice to keep your catch fresh and cool. Of course all your coast guard safety equipment that will help you in case of an emergency.

Posted in A BAYMANS LIFE, FEATURED ARTICLES.

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