New Bern, North Carolina The Chesapeake buy boat, O.A. Bloxom, seen in New Bern, North Carolina, 5 November 2011.
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Small marine railways that serve commercial fishermen are scattered up and down the southern portion of the United States. They are an important part of the infrastructure that keeps fishing boats afloat and the business of catching fish alive.
Linton Marine Railway in Valona, Ga., is a good example. It is at the end of an old dirt road that leads down to shrimp boat docks. With a single railway, Linton caters to the longtime shrimping fleet that works out of Valona and other small fishing villages on the Georgia coast.
Matt Linton, who owns and operates Linton Marine Railway, says his main customers are commercial fishermen. ?Mainly all we work on are commercial fishing boats or fishing boats that have taken on a new life,? he says. ?We are mostly a wooden-boat boatyard.?
One older commercial fishing boat that has taken on a new life was on the railway in March getting its wooden hull covered with fiberglass.
The O.A. Bloxom was built in 1901 and originally named the Nora Phillips. J.T. Marsh built the 75' x 21' O.A. Bloxom at his boatyard at Solomons, Md. The boat is historically significant because it is one of just a few Chesapeake Bay bugeyes still afloat.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, these sail-powered boats were used to dredge for oysters, serve as buyboats and haul freight on the bay. Most were built out of logs instead of planks. However, the O.A. Bloxom was built with planks ? pine planks, 3 inches thick. After being converted to power, the O.A. Bloxom worked Chesapeake Bay until 1991, when she went south to carry freight from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., to the Caribbean.
Ritch McCormack of Fernandina Beach, Fla., the boat?s owner, says, ?When we sandblasted to remove all the paint below the waterline, the entire boatyard smelled like fresh-cut heart pine.
?Some people say fiberglassing the bottom is like putting a coffin on a wooden boat. Well, I say those old iron fasteners that weeped rust out onto the hull so proficiently will forever be denied the opportunity to detract from the appearance of the Bloxom.?
The boat also got new wooden cap rails and rub rails, four berths were installed in the main hold, the heads were upgraded and a new shower was added.