You can text about it. You can read about it. You can watch it on YouTube. You can eat them in a restaurant or at a festival. Still, the only way you’ll understand oysters and the waterman’s life is to experience it firsthand on a waterman’s boat with a native waterman catching oysters the way it’s been done for many generations. And so we created The Oyster Experience.
This rare opportunity places you among a select group who know firsthand the work and satisfaction of harvesting fresh oysters. The two-day Oyster Experience is for those with an explorer’s heart and an adventurer’s soul. You’ll be in capable hands aboard the working deadrise boat, Miss Nicole, captained by long-time native waterman, William Saunders. William is a local waterman who was born into the oyster industry and has spent his entire life crabbing, fishing and harvesting local oysters.
The day after arrival, you’ll board early, like o-dark-thirty early, as do all watermen, and eat a typical small snack breakfast while William navigates to a local oyster bed designated as open for harvesting. You’ll be shown the dredge method of oyster harvesting. You’ll sort and size the oysters and learn the attributes that make for a good oyster. For sure, we will open a few and you will be able to experience the freshest oysters you have ever tasted in your life.
After loading up the harvest, you’ll head to Kellum’s, the oyster shucking plant in Carter’s Creek. The Kellum family, who adopted William as a boy and brought him up in their family, will show you how these fruits of the sea are cleaned, shucked, packaged and shipped all over the United States.
Return to the Tides for an ‘Eat What You Catch’ experience cooked up by Executive Chef TV. The afternoon is then yours at leisure.
Your trip will culminate the following day with a visit to Rappahannock River Oysters on the Rappahannock River to learn how a couple of local boys purchased a run-down marina and developed the most fascinating cottage industry from a two-man operation growing cultured oysters in the waters around the river into a revered and much publicized organization which now operates restaurants in Richmond and DC. This company ships oysters to every state in the union and is a role model for the new breed of oystermen. You’ll enjoy a light lunch at Merroir, which will include oysters.
The Tides Inn is offering this experience on Mondays – Thursdays from October 1 to early December. If you’ve got the spirit and the nerve, pack your waterproof boots and book your unique oyster experience with us.