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Tangier Island lies in the Chesapeake Bay about midway between Tidewater Virginia and Virginias Eastern Shore, about ten miles below the Maryland state line and about forty miles above Cape Charles. Since Tangier was settled, nearly three hundred years ago, most of the men who have lived there have worked the water, and to a large extent that is still the case. Until recent years, the islanders lived in remote isolation. They were an independent lot, self-reliant, and not infrequently rather eccentric.
The tales in this collection are true. For the most part they recount events in the life of Elmer Crockett, born on Tangier in 1903, who has shared with Mr. Chowning the reminiscences of his lifelong occupation as a waterman. A few of the stories involve earlier generations of Crocketts and the accounts, handed down, have become part of the island lore. Sometimes two or more events have been woven together, sometimes names have been changed, a little poetic license has been taken, butall in allthe tales are a true mirror
of life on Tangier Island. This is the real stuff, told by a natural-born storyteller, recorded by a sensitive reporter with an ear for the turn of phrase and the rhythm of the island speech.
The barcat of the books title refers to a workboat characteristic of the Tangier areaa small skipjack, usually 26 to 28 feet long, with a catboat rig.