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In the 1900s, skipjacks were a familiar fixture in every port on the Chesapeake. Their captains and crews were tough, hardy souls who earned a living in the harsh conditions of the wintertime Bay, dredging for oysters under sail. It was a dangerous but rewarding occupation; boys as young as twelve years old left school to follow their fathers and grandfathers onto the water in an age-old tradition of independence from the farms and factories that were the lot of men in the towns and cities of the region. The author has gone among skipjack captains, gathering stories of exciting events in their lives and reminiscences of how it was in the good times when oysters were healthy and plentiful. They told, too, about the bad times, when storms endangered their lives, or ice threatened their boats, the times when harvests were meager or the price they could get for oysters was too low to cover expenses. Throughout this absorbing book Vojtech has threaded the history of the skipjack, from its beginnings in the late nineteenth century when dredging by sail was the only legal method, to the present when the twin scourges of disease and water quality threaten to put an end to the country's last commercial sailing fleet.

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