The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Features

October 18, 2013

Soaking up the wisdom of the watermen

(Continued)

Most of VanAlstine's crab pots — square metal cages with a pocket in the center for bait — were onshore due to the poor crab season, but we headed for the more open waters of the bay to check on the few that he did have out. When we arrived at his pots, VanAlstine donned orange overalls, work gloves, a long shirt to avoid jellyfish stings and then, with surprising speed, started yanking the pots into the boat.

Only a few crabs scuttled out of each pot. He separated, or "culled," the creatures based on factors such as size and sex and then threw the pot back with a fresh bait fish. (People on longer tours can participate in crabbing and take some of the catch home to eat.)

VanAlstine proudly says that he's known for having some of the best crabs: Each has to pass his "squeeze test," which means pinching the corner of each crab's shell to feel whether it's hard. This means that the crab is mature and thus has more meat. He'll later sell these beefiest crabs directly to buyers at a retail price.

Our next stop was VanAlstine's oyster grounds, which he leases from the state. The oyster population is still less than one percent of its historic numbers in the Chesapeake Bay, but the numbers are climbing slowly due to oyster sanctuaries and habitat restoration.

Each year, VanAlstine buys oyster larvae from the state hatchery, puts them on oyster shells and releases them into his oyster grounds, hoping that the babies, called spats, will grow on the shells and become marketable adult oysters in a few years.

He idled the boat over an oyster ground that he'd seeded earlier this summer and pulled out the 16-foot-long oyster tongs, essentially two long wooden poles with a metal basket attached to the bottom that opens and closes like toothy jaws. VanAlstine stepped up onto the edge of his boat, lowered the basket into the oyster bed and opened and closed the poles with rapid, scissorlike movements, scraping up the oysters.

Text Only
Features
  • Uwharrie Players No. 1 Anyone know whodunit?

    So whodunit?
    Forget Col. Mustard, the library and the candlestick, this time it was the drama student in the Jesse F. Niven Center with the bottle of poison.
    At this year’s Uwharrie Players Drama Camp, campers took the stage not just to act, but to figure out who poisoned Gladdis, the talent scout.

    July 21, 2014 3 Photos

  • Kudzu Quiche A Bonus in Study of Invasive Species

    High School students who chose to study invasive species during their week at the National Environmental Summit at Catawba College probably didn't think they'd be baking a kudzu quiche. But they did, and they served it, along with other kudzu creations, at the final festival.

    July 19, 2014

  • Pottery No. 1 Wheel of Clay

    Rome wasn’t built in a day and a potter wasn’t made in one either, Seagrove potter Sid Luck, 69, said at his pottery class at the Niven’s Center Tuesday.

    July 15, 2014 3 Photos

  • Archie Smith Psaltery Sounds

    About two years ago, Archie Smith got into an argument with his table saw.
    As he says, the table saw won.

    June 30, 2014 3 Photos

  • P1160049_zps0528ec83.jpg Jammin' at Junior's

    Benjamin Franklin once wrote: “ … in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” If Franklin was alive today in western Stanly County, he would need to amend his statement to include “and Friday night jam sessions at Junior Harris’.”

    June 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • KelliePickler_TheWomanIAm_LPCover.png Kellie Pickler set to release album with limited edition vinyl pressing

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Black River Entertainment announced the release of a limited edition vinyl version of country music singer/songwriter Kellie Pickler’s critically-acclaimed current album, The Woman I Am.  This is the first vinyl album for Kellie Pickler, and it features exclusive cover art, different from the CD version.

    June 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • wedding (12 of 21).tif Fairy Tales Can Come True

    Once upon a time in Stanfield a little girl was born, but experienced problems during her delivery. Five years earlier, a little boy was born in Georgia with similar complications. Both suffered a brain bleed during child birth and had ventricular shunts placed in their heads.

    June 16, 2014 3 Photos

  • Social networks are the new matchmakers

    WASHINGTON - With studies showing that one-third of married couples started their relationships online, finding romance via URLs is no longer as novel - and creepy - as it seemed when dating sites launched in the mid-1990s.

    June 9, 2014

  • Dive into the World’s Most Diverse Marine Ecosystem when Journey to the South Pacific Arrives at Discovery Place on June 7

    CHARLOTTE – Audiences will be taken on an epic IMAX® adventure through the tropical islands of West Papua and experience one of the most extraordinary places on Earth, when the IMAX film Journey to the South Pacific comes to Discovery Place on June 7.

    June 6, 2014

  • iphone4.jpg Five major new features in iOS 8

    Apple has taken the wraps off its latest mobile operating system, iOS 8, introducing a suite of new features to users aimed at streamlining some of their most annoying daily tasks.

    June 6, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Featured Comment
Twitter Updates
Seasonal Content
Poll

Will you participate in March Madness?

Yes I watch the games and complete a bracket.
Yes I complete a bracket.
No
     View Results