Well, goshdarn it! Kelly called and asked if I'd like to go plant and harvest some clams this Saturday. You may recall the last time I went clam farming...it was a bit more adventurous than normal. This trip should be tamer .
So tomorrow afternoon, I'll be toiling away out on the Gulf. Today is stormy as a "cool" front moves through, but tomorrow holds the promise of nice weather.
We'll probably have to endure scenes like these two dolphins cavorting behind my boat. This shot was taken a few years ago, but dolphins are as thick as fleas around the Cedar Keys.
Tomorrow, if you're wondering what the weather conditions are like as we harvest, you can check them out remotely by using this link. It will take you to the NOAA weather station you see above. (I took this shot at the Clamerica celebration). We will be heading out around 1400 hours. You will get realtime wind, temp, etc from the Cedar Key boat ramp. Of course, since it will be Saturday...you will probably be out on your own adventure...hooray!
This is a typical clamming boat. It was parked as a display at the Clamerica celebration. The cylindrical object is a clam grader which is used to size clams. Clams are placed into it as the cylinder rotates. The bars that make up the cylinder are spaced so that undersize clams slip through to go back on the farm. Market size clams slide down to be bagged for sale. I think the going price now is about 12 cents per clam wholesale. Think of the markup that occurs between the boat and the restaurant menu!
After Florida banned gill nets in the early '90's, both fishermen and their boats adapted to clam farming. The boat is a "birddog" style which was designed as a net boat. Gill netting was done by spotting a school of mullet or other fish and then racing around the school in the birddog while feeding entangling gill net out of the stern.
The cutaway stern was made that way so long gill nets could be set and pulled from that end of the boat. The motor is up front for shallow running and to keep it from interfering with net handling.
The motor placed forward makes these birddogs an interesting boat to drive. I've driven the UF birddogs on some marine science trips in the past and it's not like driving a "regular" boat. Underway at full throttle, the bow lifts up so that only the prop is in the water making it possible to run over very, very shallow water.
These unique boats are such a part of the Gulf Coast, I'm glad they've found a new life as clam boats.
(Two post day today...second post about noon EST)