Lowcountry Boatmen at the Shore  9 X 12"

Lowcountry Boatmen at the Shore 9 X 12"

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This 9 X 12" acrylic on wood weighs one pound and reveals "Boatmen" at their business, tending their longboat and motor and making the net ready.

This is the scene witnessed by the residents of the lowcountry for centuries. Unlike the "Mosquito Fleet", this is a modern type rig, sporting a motorized version. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, wind power and oars were used to power the fishing and shell fishing vessels.

The Mosquito Fleet existed from the 1860's to he 1950's, was made up of sailing or oar-powered long boats which left the harbor at dawn in search of fish, crabs, shrimp and in the "R" months, oysters. The "R" months are the  months with "R" in its name(September-April). It is not entirely clear as to why oystering was limited to these months ,but Milby Burton, curator of the Charleston Museum and local "Renaissance Man", who knew everything about anything important, thought that two problems complicated the "off months": 1)Molting stages of the oysters during the rapid growth months and 2) Risk of Hepatitis A infection and higher levels of Coliforms(bacteria).

The Mosquito Fleet boasted some of the finest Boatmen of the region and was nearly universally African-American in its ranks. After the catch, salesmen would wheel their carts through the streets below Broad as early entrepreneurs, usually accompanied with a familiar song-like call from the street to let those inside their houses know that produce was available at their doorstep.

Hurricanes were devastating to the Mosquito Fleet since most could not swim and Hurricane tracking did not exist. Tropical Cyclones were so unpredictable that my grandfather and his crew of fishermen nearly drowned in Bull's Bay, unaware that the Hurricane of 1911 was bearing down on them. It's a good thing that they ended up in a cornfield in Awendaw since he was not to meet my grandmother until the following year in Flatrock, NC.