Interviewee: Howard Pickerell

Role: Commercial Fisherman

Date of Interview: 6/12/07

Collection: Peconic Estuary

Click on the link below to play the audio clip from the interviewee.

Abstract: Howard Pickerell was born in Bay Shore in 1944 and raised in Huntington, New York. His father Howard Pickerell Sr. was a bayman—a clammer—and Howard started clamming with him when he was seven years old. Back then, he says, just about everyone had something to do with the water. Howard started building boats when he was a teenager—he sold his first boat when he was fourteen—and over the years has built hundreds of Garveys and Sharpies for Great South baymen.

Transcript: “I was a clammer. I was mostly down either in Shinnecock Bay or I was in, you know, Little Peconic Bay here, in the creeks. Naturally I used a Pickerell boat. For my clamming I use one of my Garveys, eighteen foot V-bottom Garvey. And I've made hundreds of those for the Great South Bay. A Garvey has a blunt bow on it, very easy to work out of, it lays real good in the water, carries a load real good, and you know, they're very sea-worthy, makes a really good sea boat. Sharpie is, as it says, you know, a pointed boat, an old-fashioned rowboat is what it is. What I do is I took a, the traditional boats that they had, and I put some salt in it. Has more shape to the boat, it's not like a boxy-type boat, square-looking. My Garveys look very nautical, have sheer to them, they rise in the bow and have deep bottoms to them, nice, you know, rake on the sheer, and it's a very salty boat.

The construction procedures changed quite a bit over the years. We used to use a lot of oak and we used to buy our oak from Harned Sawmill in Commack. All local Long Island white oak. Then in later years it changed over to red oak, and red oak has a nasty habit of rotting faster than the white oak. But this day in age now I use all, you know, the pressure treated green wood. And that green wood is nothing more than long leaf yellow pine, southern pine. Can't get any more good oak anymore so we don't have any choice. The last oak that I was getting was from Hartwick, New York, Upstate New York, you know I was getting tractor trailer loads full, and that was in about 1980, right in there. Back then you just used, you know, like tar or bedding compound. Now everything's solely encapsulated with epoxy and the epoxy, you know, sticks to the green wood really well, really makes them last a long time. Back then I used to just fiberglass the outside of the boat. Now what I'm doing in the last ten years is that the plywood is fiberglassed inside and out. They just last forever now.”

To listen to Howard's interview, click here.