Off to OpSail 2012

The F.D. Crockett is headed east– showing the new forepeak cabin entry

The last blog entry (July 31, 2011) foretold of coming adventures–now past–the Buyboat Reunion in Cape Charles was the first of many on the now operational F.D. Crockett! Cruising across the bay in the company of other buyboats brought back feelings of the glory days of the fishing industry. The boats came back to Deltaville for a visit, gathering at the old Deagle’s Railway, now Chesapeake Boat Works, as they would have in years past, before moving on to Urbanna for their biannual visit.Later trips in the fall included Reedville for their Antique Boat Show, and Poquoson for the Seafood Festival Workboat Races, culminating in a trip to the Urbanna Oyster Festival in November, 2011. We’ve already been on the road in 2012, taking the boat to visit Providence on the Piankatank on April 27 where we were open for tours for Virginia Garden Week. So much to do, we didn’t have time to write about it.

But now we’re heading to BIG TIME! We received an invitation to represent historic bay watercraft at OpSail 2012, part of Norfolk’s 32nd Harborfest and the largest celebration of tall ships in the Norfolk Harbor since 1907, with a fleet of tall sailing ships, military vessels, and private pleasure craft from around the world. We will be one of two Chesapeake Bay Buyboats representing the flotilla of deck boats that would have once cruised the bay.

Of course we aren’t ready! The crew has been working madly to prepare the boat for the journey–the longest we have yet undertaken–back to a port where the F.D. Crockett would have been a frequent visitor during her heyday. (We thought we had until August to get everything done.) Since last spring the wheel house and forepeak cabin have been completed, deck trim and fittings have been added, decks and bottom painted, then repainted, then painted again (we STILL need some painter volunteers–anybody out there? Come for a weekend.) Cushions are being made for the wheelhouse and cabin (donations anyone? Prewitt Scripps is kindly donating for the captain’s berth–much more economical than purchasing his own buyboat)–but we won’t have them for this trip, I’m afraid.  A beautiful tender, Ferdinand, has been adapted from the prototype Wright’s Skiff for Family Boat Building Week, but its engine still needs a little tweaking, so it will come with us in August for the Buyboat Reunion. And then there’s the alternator mystery. Why doesn’t it always work?  There’s always something to do–including updating exhibits–hence the total lack of blog entries.

So–a salute to all of you who have gotten us this far–it’s amazing to think that this entire project has been funded with private donations by lots of people, and completely by volunteer labor–at least 8500 hours worth. While the Crockett itself is funded by individuals, it’s great that trips like this one are supported by a Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund grant–aka as the “License Plate Grant.” When you buy one of those, you are helping to support education projects about our bay all over Virginia. Thank you!

See you at OpSail!. We’ll be docked with the other educational boats and the Muriel Eileen at the Norfok NOAA Atlantic operations dock at 439 West York St., 23510. Check the OpSail website at for maps and schedules and the Southside Sentinel at for local details about the trip. We’ll be leaving Deltaville early Thursday morning June 7, 2012 and arriving in Norfolk about 7 1/2 hrs later. After the festivities over the weekend, we’ll be leaving with the tall ships on Tuesday June 12 as they parade up the bay to Baltimore.
Looking forward to having you stop by!

The tender Ferdinand was the prototype Wright Skiff for the first Family Boat Building Week

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