Friday, July 07, 2006

Clam Farming Again...Darn It...smirk, smirk...

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 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 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)
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Lightnin said...

Thunder posted a picture back in March of a bird dog boat in Cedar Key from the trip we made to see you guys! I also remember the dolphins swimming alongside of your boat a few years back when the 'lil ones were still little! have fun with the clams!

Floridacracker said...

Hey Lightning!
So glad to hear from you. I was just at your site. I guess big Dave survived his reunion okay.
Next visit, we'll have to whip up some Cedar Key clams!

Thunder Dave said...

That sounds good to me, I'm ready to come back down!

Yea man, I made it in one piece! Swamped at work since my return though, so as usual my blogging is hit or miss!

Floridacracker said...

Clams and mud pie next time.

Mrs. S said...

I will wait for new pictures and clam-related stories eagerly :D

Floridacracker said...

Mrs. S,
Clamming went great. Pics tomorrow I hope, I used real film due to the wet conditions.

Deb said...

Well, goshdarnit, I was thinking about you out there clamming as I was out there...peaing. :)

Hal at Ranch Ramblins said...

I've never seen that style of boat. It makes perfect sense to get the prop out of the way of the nets, but it must take some time learning to handle and dock a boat with that configuration. Thanks for sharing it.

Floridacracker said...

Clamming went great!

Glad you liked it. Docking one of these does require a different set of skills than those required of a typical boat.

JLogan said...

Thoroughly enjoyed your blog. It was the only search result I could find, re: bird dog boats.
I'm looking for manufacturers, new or used, for sale. Any ideas? Maybe a Broker near Cedar Key?
Thanks for your help, I need to find one while my wife's still in the mood to buy it!

Caryn D. said...

I own one of these boats, it's mold is called a Lisenby, named after Johnny Lisenby the original boat maker. My brother bought the mold from Johnny. Our boat was completed last year, the first of four like it. The builder was Robert Coarsey at Coarsey Fiberglass in Chiefland, Fla. They are expensive, I warn you. Somewhere around 30K. But as a full-time clammer, it's a whole lot less physical labor and hold more clams. They're great boats. Best of luck...
Cedar Key,FL
Checkout my blog http:/

Unknown said...

The cylinder on the boat is a tumbler it throws out shell and dead clams the grading process comes later and is not done on the boat by the clammer but a certified wholesaler