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Waterman’s president to speak at May 2 festival

Ken Smith

by Bill Powell

Ken Smith, president of the Virginia Waterman’s Association, will be the keynote speaker during Working Waterman’s Weekend at the Deltaville Maritime Museum and Holly Point Nature Park from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 2.

Smith’s presentation will be a “Living History” tribute to Bay watermen and women. Smith, outspoken head of the group consolidating all the state waterman’s associations, will speak at 1 p.m. Smith pulls no punches in his assessment of the bay fisheries and plight of Virginia watermen.

Smith, a lifetime resident of Northern Neck, grew up in Richmond County, moving to Northumberland while in his 20s. He currently resides in Heathsville where he fishes off the “Carol M.,” a 35-foot Evans, and a 22-foot C-Hawk, depending on what he’s after.

“I got hooked on being a waterman at a young age, but when I returned from Vietnam, I took a land job,” said Smith. “I would fish on the weekends, making as much or more as all week at that regular job. Needless to say, the land job didn’t last long. Since that time I have crabbed, oystered with shaft tongs, dredged, and fished pound nets. What has changed over the years is, that now, I have to work in real estate to support my waterman’s habit.”

In 2008, motivated by the ever-increasing regulations and declining fisheries restricting the bay waterman’s living, Smith united all of the waterman’s associations in the state under the umbrella of the Virginia State Waterman’s Association, a 501(c)6 corporation. The association, at this year’s General Assembly session, was instrumental in the Senate passing SB1087 40-0. This bill would place three working waterman on the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.

After Smith’s speech on May 2, author and newspaperman Larry Chowning will entertain with a couple of his wonderful anecdotes relating the life and times of bay watermen past. Chowning, who has worked tirelessly to preserve the history, craft and techniques of bay watermen, has interviewed dozens of skippers and crewmen over the years for his series of non-fiction books.
Working Waterman’s Weekend will feature workboats and their captains, aquaculture, colonial navigation demonstrations, shipbuilding techniques, and many other exhibits relating to bay watermen and their fisheries. The museum kitchen will be open.

Any who wish to display their fisheries-related exhibits or techniques, please leave a message at the museum (776-7200) or e-mail .

Deltaville Maritime Museum and Holly Point Nature Park, a non-profit, all volunteer organization is in Deltaville at 287 Jackson Creek Road, and by water on Mill Creek. For those coming for the first time, signs for the festival on Route 33 will direct motorists to the park.

To find out more about the museum, events schedule, and its offerings, or to become a member, visit and click “museumpark,” or Google Deltaville Maritime Museum. The park is open from dawn to dusk daily.

posted 04.22.2009

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