Letter: Retrospective look at wooden trawlers
John E Adams
Fernandina Beach, FL
I am a fine art photographer and have been shooting images of the fiscally-challenged local shrimping community for the last 4 years; while doing so, I have noticed that the beautiful handmade wooden shrimping trawlers, which were such a big part of our history, have been disappearing at an alarming rate.
Northeast Florida is my home, and we used to have some of the largest trawler building ports in the southeast for many years, now those skills have long passed and the only reminder we have of this amazing heritage are a small scattering of rapidly declining vessels spread throughout the southern shrimping regions and ports.
At its peak in the 1980s, hundreds of shrimp trawlers operated out of each of the many small fishing ports spread between the Carolinas and Texas; supplying shellfish to wholesalers and grocery stores across the United States. Sadly, in many of these ports you will typically see no more than 4 to 8 working trawlers remaining.
Many of the magnificent hand crated large wooden hull boats, built right in my hometown of Fernandina Beach, have been abandoned or destroyed, or are in severe disrepair with more disappearing with each passing day. You will no longer find these beautiful wooden boats being built, the quality lumber is just not available and even with the materials and tools there are very few left with the knowledge of how to build the wooden trawler.
My project, Evanescent Trawlers of the South, is a a retrospective view of the disappearing beautiful hand crafted wooden shrimp fishing trawlers of the south. My plans are to travel over 4,400 miles to capture and preserve images of as many of the remaining wooden trawlers as I can this summer.
If Historic City News readers would like to see more of my work, or would like to sponsor my upcoming photography study project, please visit the project overview website.