“The crew of the skipjack Nathan of Dorchester welcomed Captain Kermit Travers on board for one of its recent training sessions. Capt. Travers, who lives in Cambridge, described himself as “the last of the black skipjack captains.”
Last on a skipjack in 1978, Capt. Travers took the helm and told stories of the days when he would go out “drudging” for a week at a time. Buyboats came along to offload the harvested oysters.
“My life has been on the water,” he told the crew, although at one time he wanted to get off, because he was seasick all the time. One dose of a remedy involving a laxative and seawater, prescribed by a fellow crew member, cured him forever.
Capt. Travers gave advice on sailing skipjacks from his many years on boats such as the H. M. Krentz, Lady Katie and Ida May. “There’s a lot of work in one of these,” he said. “You need to see someone in action to really understand. It’s complicated.”
In sharing his experience with the Nathan crew, Capt. Travers passed along knowledge he had learned from captains before him. “I got a lot of pointers from the old captains, and they were mostly right,” he said.
For the volunteers of the nonprofit Dorchester Skipjack Committee who crew the Nathan, it was a rare opportunity to meet and learn from one of the individuals who contributed to the heritage of their vessel.
For more information, to charter the boat or to volunteer, contact the Dorchester Skipjack Committee at 410-228-7141 or visit its website, www.skipjack-nathan.org.”