Tarheel Aluminum was started in 1989 by Tim Bohem in his garage on Tarheel Lane along Cape Arago Highway. Shortly after, the business grew and relocated to the Charleston Shipyard. In 2000, Ray Cox bought the business when his son, Kyle Cox, was in high school. It was during this time that Kyle learned a lot about the business and slowly over the years has taken the reigns to run Tarheel Aluminum. He became the official owner in July, 2016.Read More
FROM THE SOURCE
This blog series features businesses around Charleston and Coos Bay who impact the local economy and influence the unique culture of the Bay Area.
Located out in Charleston, Qualman Oyster Farms was established in 1937 and at that time it was the only oyster farm in town. Its current owner, Larry Qualman, took over the business in 1962 and is an oyster farming veteran. Through the pictures (below), you get a sense of Larry’s fondness for oyster farming and the hard work that goes into it.
For those who do not know, most oysters are not harvested from the wild (which I thought…clueless Willamette Valley girl right here!) Oysters are actually grown from seeds. These seeds are created from larvae oysters that attach to oyster shells. In the past, Qualman oysters used to buy their seeds from Miyage, Japan. However, now they are able produce their own.
When the seeds are ready, they are set on top of the stake, in a small groove attached by wires. The stakes are then planted up the South Slough where it takes about 24-30 months to grow the oyster. There is no particular “oyster season” as they can be grown all year round. Afterward, the oysters are harvested and brought back to the facility. There, his staff will separate and shuck them. Qualman oysters are unique in that they are all hand grown, handpicked and local. Since the oysters grow out in the South Slough sanctuary, they taste a bit different than oysters harvested from the bay. The water at the sanctuary is away from houses so the water is clean and pristine. Larry describes them as nice, sweet, and the best oysters out there.
When asked about what he likes most about oyster farming, it’s very simple, he likes getting up early at low tide, heading up the slough, watching the birds and checking on the oysters. It’s a simple life but one that contributes to the economic backbone of Charleston.
Matt (pictured above) opened up Fishermen’s Wharf in 2007 after buying it from the previous owner and his store has been one of the few local stores that provides fresh seafood right off the boat. Since a lot of seafood is usually trucked out of the local community, his store is a great outlet for local fishermen to sell their product and for people to get locally sourced seafood. In addition to fresh seafood, Fishermen’s Wharf also stocks specialty foods and snacks from places such as Italy, Spain, Portugal and more. The staff provides tours of the Charleston Marina and there’s a picnic area where people can enjoy the marina scene.
What is most important to Matt though is not the seafood but the experience that customers get when they go to Fishermen’s wharf. It’s the experience of going down to the docks and picking out fresh seafood that came straight from the commercial fishing boats in the Charleston Marina. Some lucky customers might even get a visit from Charleston Marina’s own harbor seal, Flash.
Fishermen’s wharf also sees itself as an active part of contributing to the local community not only through its store but also through projects such as the America’s Best Communities grant. When asked about where he sees Fishermen’s Wharf in the future, he says “just right here.” Looks like tourists and the local community will have fresh and locally sourced seafood to look forward to for a long time.
The Charleston Crab Feed is coming up and we thought we'd give you an inside look on where the crabs on your plate this weekend come from! Yesterday, we got a glimpse on how crabs are processed and talked to three crabbers on what their lifestyle is like.
Pictured on the right is Tyler, the owner of The Harvester which he and his crew call the “Porsche” of crab boats. He’s been crabbing for 16 years and when asked about what it’s like, he says it’s a lot of getting up early and getting in late. He tells us the best spots for crabbing are usually at sandy spots, away from the rocks.
Burt (on the left) is also a crabber and went to high school with Tyler. They met at a wine festival in Elkton, reconnected and that’s when he got into crabbing. According to him “crabbing is where it’s at!” Burt likes crabbing because it’s pretty straightforward. “When you run 300 pots, it’s either good or bad. If it’s bad, you move somewhere else. There’s no indecisiveness to it.” It's the bread and butter of his family but during the off season, he is also involved in tuna, salmon and halibut fishing.
Crabbing however, does involve a lot of physical labor and hours without pay. For example, the gear takes about a month to get ready for the crabbing season. In addition, crabbing involves a lot of long hours. A good day to run 300 pots will be 12 hours if everything goes smoothly and that’s a good day.
A crabber at heart, Burt says that despite the long hours, crabbing is the best life and he wouldn’t trade it for any other job. In his words, “I love crabbing!”
Thank you to all the crabbers and fishermen out there who are a big part of our local economy! Don't forget to get crackin' this weekend at the Charleston Crab Feed!