XV. A Song to Maggie

Maggie's Bowsprit

One day in 1998 – The weathered face of the old waterman standing alone on the beach, gazing out onto the dull, gray bay; an old wooden schooner, hull rotted with holes, lying on her side on the sand by the creek, gutted of her soul – her motor and masts: This could have been the fate of yet another wooden schooner, had not her new captain and his wife fallen in love with her at first sight and saved her the moment before the sun set upon her bow forever.

July 8, 2011 – I awoke this morning with a song to the Maggie in my mind. The Maggie is a 118-year-old Delaware Bay oyster schooner, the Maggie S. Myers, owned for 13 years by my good friends Jean and Thumper. The Maggie is believed to be the oldest continuously working oyster schooner under sail in the United States. She has never been out of commission. Thumper sails her out of Bowers Beach, Delaware, onto the Delaware Bay nearly every day where he and his crew of two or three or more work her dredging for conch, oysters (when ever-tightening regulations permit), blue crabs and more. A few years ago, Jean and Thumper restored one of the Maggie’s two masts; Thumper sews his own sails. Thumper often works her under sail, thus saving fuel. The Maggie is 50 feet long and 18 feet wide with a five-foot draft. She sits low in the water like a fat white goose.

Fat Maggie

For the evening of July 3, Jean and Thumper invited a group of us out on the Maggie to watch the Bowers Beach fireworks from the bay. For this annual event, Jean lays a seasoned red Oriental rug across the Maggie’s deck and spreads the workbench with a lace tablecloth. Jean, a vegetarian (as is Thumper), has traditionally prepared the food for these events to which we are so honored to be invited; but this year she had it catered by the same guy who catered the food for the Green Eggs & Sand (a curriculum teaching teachers to teach kids about horseshoe crabs) 10th anniversary celebration in May 2010, where he prepared the cedar-plank grilled salmon, among other amazing dishes. The fare this year was equally as dazzling. Delicious. I’m so glad I went.

I am so glad I went not only because of the food but also because of the camaraderie, the friends onboard who have dedicated their lives to humanitarian achievements. I, among them, am the bumbling writer who writes to let the world know about the better place these leading exemplars create for humans, animals and the environment. There are Thumper and Jean: Jean buys and prepares the meals for a periodic series of soup kitchens for low-income watermen and others; she rescues cats (mostly dumped on her doorstep or in the marshes). Thumper created an innovative bait bag whereby he could use a quarter or less horseshoe crab for bait rather than using a whole crab; now he no longer uses horseshoe crabs; he uses mussels. Gary won awards for his Green Eggs & Sand curriculum.

Maggie's 50-foot mast

Glenn travels the world advocating for horseshoe crabs (ERDG, horseshoecrab.org – see the left sidebar with my list of friends and nonprofits); Glenn is also a Tibetan Buddhist Rinpoche. Glenn’s wife Mariko has family in Japan affected by the recent disaster (see the Tomodachi Project in the left sidebar); Glenn and Mariko’s daughter, Julia, is an extraordinary textile artist; and Glenn’s mom (who was not on the Maggie this night, is an acclaimed watercolorist and Sumi-e artist). Thumper plays the guitar, writes songs and performs these and sea chanteys, often playing for funerals. Another friend, who could not be there this night, Michael Oates, is an Emmy-winning independent documentary filmmaker, of 302 Stories. His PBS horseshoe crab documentary “Dollars in the Sand” was the progenitor of “Green Eggs & Sand.” Mike is an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Delaware and he and his partner, Jeanne, regularly engage in projects to help the less fortunate. Thumper and Jean have spent 13 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars restoring the Maggie: they fondly call this effort “The Maggie Myers Restoration Project.” Yes, Maggie must work to support herself.

Day's End - Photo by Robert Price

My friend, R., a most talented and versatile creative artist – he calls his painting technique sharp pointillism – (Assemblage 333 in the left sidebar) drove me to the Maggie, while a Hospice volunteer drove to my house in her Prius to stay with Emma. Kindle in hand, she was assured of having plenty to read while I was out on the bay.

I climbed down the ladder onto the Maggie’s deck. We waited at dock until the tide rushed into the creek enough to carry us through the cut where the Murderkill Creek meets the bay. While we relaxed out on the bay, the tide rushed in, rushed in so fast that when we returned to dock and Thumper was backing the Maggie into her berth, he had difficulty going against the tide: “She only backs up at six knots,” he said. But, Thumper’s a skilled captain, the Maggie did her best, and we made it.

Out on the bay, Thumper’s crew raised the main and jib sails. We ate, chatted, and Thumper got out his guitar, sat among us and sang us a beautiful song, one he did not write, “let me flow like the river” went the words. People had set two huge bonfires along the Bowers beach. Platoons of torches lit the yards of several big beach houses. The fireworks were unique one to the next and extraordinarily beautiful for a small town budget, and they lasted a long time. Someone lit a Chinese lantern or two or three and set them off. Then they set off more. Then hosts of them with their orange flames floated in the black night over the bay above us, like spirits floating across the sky.


If you are interested in the Maggie and the waterman’s life, I think you will like reading the story I wrote for the Spring 2009 issue of Delmarva Quarterly, “The Low Whistle of the Wind.” Find it here under the menu heading “The Ocean Bar and Seaview Grill.”



25 Responses to XV. A Song to Maggie

  1. Wilda Debari says:

    I have to say, youve got one with the best blogs Ive noticed in a long time. What I wouldnt give to be able to make a weblog thats as intriguing as this. I guess Ill just need to maintain reading yours and hope that one day I can write on a subject with as substantially knowledge as youve got on this one!

  2. Wow, I like your post !

  3. Super-Duper blog! I am loving it!! Will be back later to read some more. I am bookmarking your feeds also

  4. Good work there. I really like it!

  5. Satshop says:

    Hello! I just would like to give a huge thumbs up for the great info you have here on this post. I will be coming back to your blog.

    Best regards Alex

  6. Very helpful post. Thanks for finding the time to share with you your view around.

  7. Great blog you may have here, had lots of fun reading this post 🙂

  8. Thankyou for this tremendous post, I am glad I found this site on yahoo. cheap vps | best vps host |

  9. seo says:

    Stubbmled accross your blog post and chose to have a very quick study, not whatever usually do, but the truth is possess a great blog. Wonderful to see a niche site that isnt brimming with spam, and really makes some sense. Awesome blog

  10. Always love to comment , I cannot make a choice ! Thanks Sarah

  11. Marina says:

    You have really interesting blog, keep up posting such informative posts!

  12. I’m still learning from you, as I’m trying to achieve my goals. I certainly love reading everything that is posted on your site.Keep the information coming. I enjoyed it!

  13. buchmacher unibet
    Thanks for your contribution and I will use it for my work research that I am doing for this website.

  14. seo software says:

    Somebody necessarily help to make critically articles I would state. This is the very first time I frequented your website page and to this point? I surprised with the research you made to create this particular post incredible. Excellent job!

    • sammozart says:

      Yes, it has been a lot of research, particularly on such a dynamic subject as this 118-year-old, continuously-working Delaware Bay oyster schooner, oysters and horseshoe crabs. I have published a series stories about the Maggie S. Myers, her loving owners, and horseshoe crab advocates. Thank you.

  15. It’s appropriate time to make some plans for the future and it’s time to be happy. I’ve read this post and if I could I wish to suggest you few interesting things or suggestions. Maybe you can write next articles referring to this article. I desire to read more things about it!

  16. I gotta bookmark this internet site it seems handy handy cpanel reseller | cpanel reseller |

  17. wetten systeme
    Thanks for your contribution and I will use it for my college research that I am doing for this website.

  18. vps provider says:

    excellent post.Never knew this, thankyou for letting me know. vps hosting | best vps host |

  19. sammozart says:


    Glad you enjoyed. Your photo dramatizes the reality of life with Maggie. It is a stunning photo. Thanks for eveything ….

  20. Robert Price says:

    A very, very, very good read!!!

    I enjoyed viewing your photographs – apropos.

    Thank you for posting my photograph.