Story By Ethan Sabo, Guest Blogger
Photos By Kelly Marderosian, Consociate Media
The bright sun peeks through a cloudy sky on a warm spring day. The salty, marsh scent of the Chesapeake Bay fills the air. And then, cutting through the water, a short distance from the Marker Nine channel marker in Sarah Creek off of the York River, a faint image appears. Smoothly cutting through the waves, it becomes clear. It’s a Deadrise.
It's no secret Marker Nine loves the water - especially the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, which inspired Marker Nine to begin with. But even more so, Marker Nine loves all that the water provides. A home. A playground. A farm.
Yes, a farm.
In honor of the very men and women who harvest the crabs, the oysters, the fish that make the Chesapeake Bay so unique, Marker Nine recently launched its newest design - the Deadrise.
The Deadrise. It’s part art. Part engineering feat. All awesome.
Where did it come from?
In 1607, English settlers sailing upon the Susan, Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery landed in the Chesapeake Bay and founded Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in Virginia. Along with their optimistic hopes and dreams, the 104 original Jamestown settlers brought with them the term “waterman.” Originally, the English used this term simply to mean a man who worked in the fishing industry; but over the past 400 years, the term waterman has come to mean so much more. A waterman is not just an occupation; the term encapsulates the purpose, ideals, and very being of the Chesapeake fisherman. For centuries the waterman has been the backbone and identity of the Chesapeake economy. The waterman rises early in the morning and works strenuous manual labor all day, sometimes traveling dozens of miles on the water in search of a good harvest, before finally returning to harbor late in the evening. He often works nights, crabs and oysters when he can, and only gets paid when he has something to sell. It’s an occupation not for the faint of heart. Why then does he do it? Because he loves being on the water and he loves the Chesapeake Bay. Many watermen are multiple generations into the industry and from their very beginning the term waterman has been a major piece of who they are. It’s home.
Over the years, the watermen’s boat has evolved from dugout canoes to bugeyes, to the official boat of the Commonwealth of Virginia—the Deadrise. The term “deadrise” refers to the angle in the hull design, rising upward horizontally from the bottom of the keel rabbet to the sideboards. This angle creates a sharp V shape in the hull of the boat that flattens moving aft along the bottom of the hull. This V shape design allows the boat to glide over the waves at faster speeds while minimizing the pounding from the waves. The Deadrise, therefore, allows watermen to travel farther distances safely and efficiently as they search for better harvests.
Just as the waterman has come to be a symbol for the Chesapeake Bay, so too, the Deadrise has become a symbol for the waterman. It’s memory of how we’ve come, a reminder of where we are, and an image of our Beloved Bay. The Deadrise, it’s who we are.