Harry L Carter Jr., 90, charter boat captain


Capt. Harry Linwood Carter Jr., whose salty manner and knowledge of fishing combined to make him one of the most popular and colorful charter boat captains on the Chesapeake ++ Bay, died Wednesday at his home in Rock Hall. He was 90.

Mr. Carter whose career on the bay spanned about 75 years, began operating fishing trips out of Rock Hall in the early 1930s. He retired in 1991 after being injured in an automobile accident.

His 47-foot boat, Breezin' Thru, was built in 1949 by shipbuilder Andrew Johnson Stevens in Rock Hall.

"I named it that because I breezed through all my money when I built her," Mr. Carter said in an interview several years ago.

His boat was a popular destination for Baltimoreans seeking a productive day fishing as well as a chance to sample his famous Eastern Shore-style breakfasts and lunches that he served on board. Since 1960, the boat was based at Kentmorr Marina on Kent Island.

"I was out Wednesday afternoon when the marine radio crackled with the message that 'Captain Harry Carter has left the bay,' " said Bill Burton, retired Evening Sun outdoors writer, "and everyone fell silent for a minute or two.

"He was very unusual and cantankerous, and it made no difference to him who you were, his word was law. However, he was one of the best fishermen on the bay and one of the best cooks. Everyone would take a break from fishing to gather around the engine box and eat his crab cakes and soup," said Mr. Burton.

Mr. Carter refused to make promises to his guests about possible catches when aboard his boat. "You never know when you're gonna catch a fish because they have heads and tails," he told an interviewer several years ago.

Sidney Blumenthal, 79, chairman of the executive committee of Blumenthal-Kahn Electric Co., first went fishing aboard Mr. Carter's boat when he was 12 and continued until five years ago.

"He was gruff and rough and never mellowed. He would bellow and swear at what he called the 'Sunday fisherman' who crossed his chum stream and fouled his lines," said Mr. Blumenthal with a laugh.

William Tilghman Hemsley IV, who worked for Mr. Carter for 12 years, said, "When he hired me as a mate, he asked me, 'What's your name?' and when I told him it was William Tilghman Hemsley IV, he said, 'I wouldn't name a dog that, and people out of Baltimore are too damned dumb to remember all of that so I'm calling you Bill.'

"He would meet his charters wearing his trademark suspenders, shirt and bow tie all the while puffing on a White Owl cigar. He used to tell people that it was a two-cigar trip to either Rock Hall or the Bay Bridge. That's how he'd explain how long a trip was," said Mr. Hemsley.

Born and raised in Rock Hall, the son of a waterman, Mr. Carter attended school until the third grade, which he repeated three times. "A local judge allowed him to quit school because his father needed him to make a living," said Mr. Hemsley.

He was a member of the Kent County Waterman's Association and the Maryland Waterman's Association.

He was married in 1935 to the former Edith Wachowicz, who died in 1985.

Services will be held at 1 p.m. today at the Fellows-Wells Funeral Home, Route 20, Rock Hall.

He is survived by three sisters, Thelma Taylor and Bertha Gears, both of Chestertown, and Leona Bennett of Fort Worth, Texas; and several nieces and nephews.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Rock Hall Volunteer Fire Company, P.O. Box 577, Rock Hall 216661, where he had been a life member.

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