Jim “Crab” Manchester heads back downriver in his work skiff earlier this summer after taking a reporter and photographer for a ride to check out underwater debris around Hix Bridge. Mr. Manchester, a life-long commercial fisherman, passed away at age 74 just over two weeks later on Friday, Aug. 16. He apologized that day for a bit of water sloshing around in his boat — “Its a good old boat but kind of worn out — like me,” he said.
Mr. Manchester got his nickname (his friends also know a slightly longer version) as a teenager who had just launched his first skiff which he had named Crab. Overnight, a buddy tinkered with that name — “Pretty funny,” Mr. Manchester said, “and the name stuck with me ever since.” Over the years, he fished for just about everything in the river and outside — fish clams, oysters, lobsters, crabs and more. And in March of 1972, he rescued Billy Kirby after a new boat rolled over in rough water near the harbor entrance, claiming the life of Tim Flores Jr. Crab went out in his boat and managed to save Kirby who had been pulled up into the West Branch. He proudly described himself as a ‘Cranky Yankee,’ but others said Crab was always ready to lend a hand or share a laugh.
He’ll be missed.