During the January 8th meeting of the Talbot Watermen Association, President Bunky Chance, who is retiring from office, was honored by Senator Addie Eckardt and Delegate Johnny Mautz for his service and dedication to the Watermen, community and to our organization. We want to thank Bunky for his years of tirelessly working for all of us, and our industry! We know he will still be very involved, and we want him to know how much we appreciate all he has done for Talbot Watermen!
Below, is an article that was published by the Baltimore Magazine in 2015 that we thought we would share.
By Jane Marion
Published Baltimore Magazine, July 1, 2015
As a young boy on his parent’s Easton grain farm, Floyd “Bunky” Chance Jr. dreamed of one day trading his tractor for a trotline. “I could see these guys out crabbing, and by 12 in the morning, their boats were gone from the river,” says the 54-year-old Chance, above. “And there I was sitting on my tractor at noon with more work ahead, thinking, ‘Those guys have it made.’ I didn’t realize they’d started crabbing at three in the morning while I was still sleeping. I’d sit there and think, ‘Well that’s the life for me.’”
Chance—now the president of the Talbot County Watermen’s Association—stayed true to his boyhood vow, though the hours he puts in haven’t turned out exactly as planned. For the past 35 years, he has worked on the water as a commercial crabber and oysterman. Despite the surge in oyster farming, during the season—roughly October through March—he is still committed to catching wild oysters, which makes the job even more of a challenge due to recent regulations protecting where oysters can be fished. Now, instead of oystering on the quiet shores of his own Bozman backyard, Chance leaves his house before 4 a.m., drives two hours to his skipjack docked in Deal Island, and dredges with his crew for 10 hours before heading home.
His crabbing schedule is equally grueling. The waterman, who keeps his Chesapeake deadrise, Amazing Grace, behind his home on Grace Creek, boards the vessel at 3:30 a.m., and finishes his day roughly 15 hours later. “It’s a grind—and I don’t advise it to anyone,” says Chance in a rare moment of respite on land due to the February freeze of the bay. “It’s a very hard way to make a living—you work a lot of days, and there are days when you might not make anything. The bay might be frozen, but the bills keep coming. I always say that it’s easy to catch a crab—but it’s hard to make a living at it.”
Last May, when he fell on his boat and broke his wrist, he continued to crab. “If I go to work and I’m half speed, at the end of the day, I’m half pay,” says Chance, who sells about half of his catch at his roadside market, Captain Bunk’s Crab Shack in Ellicott City. “I can’t do that—I have a family to feed. If I have a broken wrist that hurts, I have to work twice as hard with my good wrist.”
Even so, there’s pleasure with the pain. “I love being on the water,” says Chance. “I’m not much of a people person. I love the solitude. I can see God’s face and hear his voice out there on the bay. I’m sailing out and the stars are in the sky and it’s a good time.”