Boat Stories

  • Collection DOI:
    Principal Investigator:
    Jennifer Sweeney Tookes, Bryan Fluech
  • Commercial fishing has deep cultural ties to the Georgia coast, particularly the shrimping industry, which is the state’s largest and most economically valuable fishery. Shrimping has played an integral role in shaping the identities of the commercial fishermen who have spent most of their lives on the water. At the heart of these identities are the fishing boats that have carried captains and their crew for decades. 

    These vessels have been bought and sold by fishermen up and down the coast for decades, connecting multiple generations of fishing families. They serve as the backbone of Georgia’s shrimping industry and have become iconic symbols for fresh and locally harvested seafood for the millions of residents and tourists who visit the coast.

    In 2020-2021, Anthropologists at Georgia Southern University collaborated with Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant to record the stories and experiences of local shrimpers and their boats. Funded by Georgia Department of Natural Resources Coastal Resource Division through a Coastal Improvement Grant (NOAA #NA20NOS4190175), student researchers learned about commercial fishing as they conducted these oral history interviews.   These recordings powerfully preserve the voices and culture of commercial fishing to be shared with current and future generations. This database of knowledge is also available to guide science and regulatory decisions. Get to know Georgia's commercial fishermen by listening to their "Boat Stories"

Interviewee Collection Sort descending Description Interviewer Date of Interview Location of Interview Affiliation
Robert Everson Boat Stories

Robert Everson is a seasoned fisherman from McIntosh County, Georgia, with a rich history in the fishing industry. His journey in the industry began with the help of his father, who also worked in the industry. Everson's early years were spent working on several boats in the Gulf of Mexico, starting as a striker and gradually gaining experience and skills. He also worked with his father out of Fort Myers, Florida, where they would embark on three-day trips to the Gulf of Mexico for shrimping.

Kassidy Gunn, Freddy Lee Townsend, GA Georgia Southern University, UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant
Michael Vernon Boat Stories

Michael Vernon is a seasoned fisherman based in Eulonia, Georgia. He has extensive experience working on various fishing vessels, having served on approximately ten to twelve boats throughout his career. Currently, he is the captain and partner on the Miss Doris, a position he has held for the past three years. Prior to this, he worked on the Golden Phase, one of the oldest boats in the county, for the longest duration. His experience spans from North Carolina to Key West, with stints on boats such as the Lady Denise, Megan Elaine, Daddy's Girl, and War Horse.

Jennifer Sweeney Tookes Eulonia, GA Georgia Southern University, UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant
Darrell Gale Boat Stories

Darrell Gale is a seasoned commercial fisherman from Darien, Georgia. He comes from a long lineage of watermen, tracing back to Sir William Gale who served for King Arthur. His family migrated from the Isle of Man to the United States, where they settled in Darien, Georgia. Gale's grandfather worked for King George, rafting logs and fishing during off times. His father also followed the same path, serving in the Navy under Halsey before returning to shrimping. Gale himself has been on the waters since he was small, becoming a shrimp boat captain at the age of fourteen.

Samantha Sheppard, Megan Bull Darien, GA Georgia Southern University, UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant
Wynn Gale Boat Stories

Wynn Gale is a lifelong resident of Darien, Georgia, and a fourth-generation fisherman. He began his career in commercial fishing at the age of twelve. Despite a brief attempt at a career in law enforcement, Gale returned to the fishing industry, following in the footsteps of his family who have only ever worked in fishing. Over the years, Gale has observed a significant decrease in the number of boats fishing in the area. He has also experienced the financial challenges of the industry, having had to sell his shrimp boat due to high dock rent and the lack of a crew.

Jamekia Collins, Amber Chulawat Darien, GA Georgia Southern University, UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant
Bill Harris Boat Stories

Bill Harris is a seasoned fisherman and co-owner of Sapelo Shrimp Company based in Darien, Georgia. He has been involved in the fishing industry for several decades, having bought his first boat in 1989. Over the years, Harris has owned and operated several fishing vessels, with his most recent being the Brenda K, formerly known as the Lang's Pride. Harris serves as the captain of his boats, but he also manages operations on the dock, including unloading shrimp from other fishermen, selling shrimp, ice, and fuel.

Samantha Sheppard, Megan Bull Darien, GA Georgia Southern University, UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant
Thurmond and Marie Kern Boat Stories

Thurmond and Marie Kern are a married couple residing in Brunswick, Georgia. Thurmond has had a long history with shrimping and has owned several boats over the course of his life. His passion for fishing is evident in his inability to retire, leading him to purchase another boat, the Lady Raven, named after his granddaughter. Marie, while not directly involved in the fishing, has been a supportive partner throughout their journey. The couple has witnessed significant changes in the fishing industry and has concerns about its future in their area.

Amber Chulawat, Sierra Sutton Brunswick, GA Georgia Southern University, UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant
Calvin Lang Boat Stories

Calvin Lang is a third-generation shrimper and fisher based in Brunswick, Georgia. He has been involved in the fishing industry for several years, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. Lang currently owns two fishing vessels, the Miss Peggy and the Fifth Day, both of which he operates with his wife, Lisa. He previously owned the Lang's Pride, a 75-foot St. Augustine trawler freezer boat, which he sold due to difficulties in finding a crew.

Amber Chulawat, Sierra Sutton Brunswick, GA Georgia Southern University, UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant
Herbert McIver Boat Stories

Herbert McIver, also known as "Captain Truck," is a seasoned commercial fisherman from McIntosh County, Georgia. His fishing career began at a young age, around eight or nine years old, when he started accompanying his father on fishing trips. Despite initial bouts of seasickness, McIver continued to work with his father every summer, eventually taking on more responsibilities as he grew older. His early fishing experiences were diverse, catching a variety of species including crabs, shrimp, whiting, flounder, and other smaller fish.

Yhambria Simmons, Kimberly Singley Darien, GA Georgia Southern University, UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant
Traci and Hinton Arnsdorff Boat Stories

Hinton and Traci Arnsdorff are a married couple who own and operate a home shrimping business. Hinton Arnsdorff has a long history with boats, having owned and operated many throughout his life. His first boat, the Bunny B, was a forty-foot vessel that he ran when he was about fifteen years old. After two years, he sold it and got the West Wind. He has also run the Grey Ghost, which he has had for over twenty years. Other boats he has run include the Notre Dame, which sunk off of Saint Katherines, and Ms. Kim, which sank off of Key West.

Amber Chulawat, Sierra Sutton Brunswick, GA Georgia Southern University, UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant
Jimmy Moore Boat Stories

Jimmy Moore is a retired local fisherman from McIntosh County, Georgia. He has a rich history of working on fishing vessels and has been a part of the commercial fishing industry for many years. Moore owned a fishing vessel for twenty years before selling it to a man named Bill. He currently co-owns a boat named Brenda K with Bill. Despite being retired for twenty years, Moore's experiences and stories from his time in the industry provide valuable insights into the changes and advancements that have occurred over the years.

Kassidy Gunn, Frederick Lee Townsend, GA Georgia Southern University, UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant