Bucking rumors of a dying industry, young Lowcountry shrimpers take to the sea.
In pre-dawn’s inky stillness, brackish water floods the back roads leading to Haddrell’s Point near the mouth of Shem Creek on Charleston’s harbor, the full moon’s gravitational pull swelling tides to record heights. Where pavement turns to gravel, a lone street lamp illuminates old signage for the shuttered Wando Shrimp Company, a once vibrant seafood-processing warehouse that closed in 2014 after a sixty-five-year run. There, a ramshackle wooden walkway stretches toward the glaring floodlights of a shrimp trawler named the Miss Paula. Her tangle of furled nets, steel winches, chains, and ropes reach into the night sky. Water laps the dock as three young men pass buckets of ice up onto deck. One by one, their feet anchored in a scupper hole for leverage, they hoist themselves aboard. In an industry dominated by old salts, some of whom have been trawling shrimp for more than fifty years, the Miss Paula is remarkable for the youth of her crew. Captain Vasily “Vasa” Tarvin, at the time of this outing in late 2016, is 25. His deck mate, Franklin Rector, 23. Manning the wheel is Michael Brown, who at the age of 37, wryly pronounces himself “babysitter” on today’s run. click here to continue reading the story. 13:22