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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Love Him or Not... (Book Review)

Book Cover Capt. Larry Simns has probably had some effect on your life if you are in any part of the seafood industry, if you like to fish, if you are concerned with water quality, if you love to eat seafood, if you live or work near the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed, are a politician in the Maryland State House, or for a variety of other reasons. If you don't know his name, or the only thing that you do know about him is his name, then you should read this book.

In the newly released The Best of Times on The Chesapeake Bay, An Account of a Rock Hall Waterman, Capt. Larry Simns (the n is silent), and co-author Robert L. Rich, Jr. tell the story of how he grew up in the small harbor town of Rock Hall on Maryland's Eastern Shore. He began his education in seafood harvesting at six years old, he went through brutal but valuable apprenticeship with seasoned and unforgiving Captains in his teens and he grew to become a respected Captain and seafood business owner in young adulthood. He recounts how he reluctantly found his voice as he began his rise within local groups of watermen to become a legendary advocate for them and the Chesapeake Bay in response to critical declines in seafood populations in the early 1970s. In his 40 years as President of the Maryland Watermens Association, he was not only recognized for his work by professionals with interests in the fisheries from Maine to Alaska and the Gulf Coast, he also worked with Senators, Governors and U.S. Presidents.

If you spend any time with a waterman,it would be difficult not to notice that theirs are very tough jobs. Many of our neighbors start their day at 3:00am. They work when it's 20 degrees outside. They work when it's 100 degrees outside. The brutal apprenticeship that Capt. Larry went through was important for learning to live in an environment that might be idyllic one moment and potentially deadly the next. There are some very exciting moments in the book. In fact, Capt. Larry went through more than one situation where he almost didn't survive.
He clearly explains how various finfish, oysters and crabs were harvested, having experience with pretty much every method used. He explains how "The Bay" changed after Hurricane Agnes. A resulting drop in seafood harvests coincided. Other factors including pollution from other sources led him to the chain of events that made him the powerful advocate he is. He discusses how he worked with others from various disciplines including biologists, environmentalists, and others to create policies that were not always popular. An amazing journey for a waterman from Rock Hall, Maryland.
There's a whole lot more here and I highly recommend this book. Most of the chapters are brief, but full of information. It provides an education about the Chesapeake Bay, Eastern Shore life, the history of its watermen, issues surrounding its protection and much more. One gets the sense that, knowing he won't be around forever, he would like for this book to help pass critical information to those for whom stewardship of the Chesapeake and the life within it will pass. We should pay attention.
For more information go to:

Book Details

The Best of Times on The Chesapeake Bay, An Account of a Rock Hall Waterman
Lived by Captain Lawrence William Simns
Written by Robert L. Rich, Jr.
Illustrated by Ann Crane Harlan.

ISBN: 9780764342776Soft Cover
288 Pages
42 illustrations