The Bar Cat

Original Watercolor, 15″ x 22″
With custom frame …… $1,650 plus shipping
Click below on “Fine Art America” for reproductions and pricing.

The Bar Cat, sometimes called a Jenkins Creeker or Scrape Boat, is uniquely designed to catch the Atlantic Blue Crab in its brief moulted or soft state as it hides in the eel grass marshes of the Chesapeake Bay. Roughly 30 feet in length with a 10-foot beam, this distinguished, graceful working-man’s boat has a remarkably low 18 inches of draft. This allows a strong waterman to manually lift and sort a full 3-4 wide, 6-foot long net that he has dragged along the bottom of shallow marsh grounds.

Scraping for soft crabs requires no bait. But it does require a long day’s work during summer months. A waterman will head out at 4 a.m., reach his shallow eel grass destination, drop two 40-pound scrape nets, drag them off the stern for 5 minutes at two or three knots, then pull them aboard with each full-net weighing a hundred pounds or so. Then he carefully sorts his catch from discarded eel grass, shells, buckrams (nearly hard crabs), and occasional oyster toadfish and diamondback terrapins. . .both of which can inflict significant wounds.

The culled catch includes: pink and red sign peelers, greens (fat crabs) or snots, and busters or fully soft crabs. Occasionally, large Jimmies (hard shell males) that have invaded the grass looking for a mate, are taken. All of the catch is carefully sorted into pails and baskets.

I thank photographer Dave Harp for granting me permission to use his images as reference from two YouTube documentaries, An Island Out of Time (2019) and Beautiful Swimmers Revisited (2016).

  • Originals, Commissions & Framed Art: Contact Bill directly (714)795-0820