J. Roberts Bateman at sunset accompanied by a waterfowl flotilla,
Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, photograph by author.
Not all wooden boats in the Chesapeake were born here. Especially oyster boats, which have past lives in other shellfish-rich ports. Dockside at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum over the winter is the J. Roberts Bateman, an converted-schooner oystering boat built in 1928 in Greenwich, New Jersey. Once owned by the Bivalve Packing Company in Bivalve, New Jersey, the J. Roberts Bateman was one of the few survivors of the MSX blight, followed by Dermo, that devastated the once-booming New Jersey oyster industry. Today, she occasionally participates in the fluctuating Chesapeake oyster harvest, and the rest of the time provides a visual reminder that the Chesapeake’s woes have also been suffered by other once-robust East Coast fisheries.