Message from the Museum

Command Central for the museum is an office trailer donated by Usry.

The Deltaville Maritime Museum would like to thank the hundreds of people who have contacted us over the past couple of days to show their support.  The response has been overwhelming and we are humbled by the outpouring of love.

The Museum Building, several one-of-kind historical artifacts and exhibits and our outdoor Exhibit Pavillion were completely destroyed in a dreadful fire on Wednesday, July 18. Luckily, no one was hurt or injured and we are truly thankful for this.  How the fire began is still a mystery but the museum is working with County and State officials to determine the cause.

The Museum intends to move forward and produce all of its scheduled 2012 outdoor events  including the Farmer’s Markets, Arts and Seafood Festival, Groovin’ in the Park concert series, Halloween Haunted Trail and others.

More than ever, the Deltaville Maritime Museum needs your help.

The Deltaville Maritime Museum is run completely on contributions and donations from our loyal members and community supporters.

We welcome any support you can offer and monetary donations are, no doubt, needed at this time.

We have also received numerous  offers of physical assistance. Your help will be invaluable with so many aspects of recovery, especially as we learn  the specifics of what needs to be done. If you would like to volunteer your assistance, please email the museum with your contact information and your areas of skill and interest.  There will be many jobs to do but not all of them need to be done right now.  We would love to be able to contact you when we can be specific with our needs.

Please contact:

Deltaville Maritime Museum, P.O. Box 466, Deltaville, VA 23043                     804-776-7200                   

Memberships and general donations can be made by cash, check or PayPal.

Checks may be made out to: Deltaville Maritime Museum                                                  and mailed to:                 P.O. Box 466, Deltaville, VA 23043

The new office will be operational this week.

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Determination and Debris

Fire and Floods don’t deter the fish fry!

Fire–Fish– and Flood!!! Nothing stops Billz Bistro’s Crew!!! In the shadow of the debris from the fire, with grounds flooded by the 4 inches of rain last night, the Bistro Crew cooked up their own storm.

The Fish Fry is meant to celebrate the families of the Family Boatbuilding Week as they race their completed boats and rejoice in their accomplishments–however, this time they had lost their boats and all their tools–but as one family said–they had the memories of what they had accomplished together that week.  They were joined by people from all over Middlesex County who came to support the museum.

It was particularly touching to see how many people came throughout the day  and said–we’ve just come to give a donation.  What generosity we saw today!! We know that the support of this community will help us rebuild. We look forward to seeing you all at the Farmer’s Market and Concert next weekend.

Thank you, all.       Please elect to follow the blog to get notified of new posts.

A Message from Bill Powell, Museum Events Coordinator:

Friends of the Museum,

By now, I am sure you all know about the loss by fire of the Museum building and Events Pavilion.

Just want to make sure you all know that we will rebuild, bigger and better, and, that all scheduled 2012 events will continue as planned.

We will forge on!!!

The torrential rains this past Saturday moved off just in time for an intrepid group of Bistrobunchers to man the pumps and pull off a tremendously successful scheduled Fish Fry from 11:30-1 this past Saturday.

The rains returned at 2pm, just as we finished up the cleanup.

Farmer’s Market and Groovin’ with B. J. Leiderman will continue next Saturday, July 28th, as planned.

The Waterfront Park facilities, Boat shop, Oar House, Bistro and Classroom are all operational.

The Museum temporary office should be online Monday, July 23, thanks to Usry, Inc., Wes Mallory, and our tremendously dedicated office manager, David Moran.


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Devastated by Fire

The WA Johns’ Boat Shed is in flames on Wednesday, July 18, 2012 at the Deltaville Maritime Museum

Flames shoot from the roof of the Deltaville Maritime Museum

Firefighters from 5 local fire departments work to put out the blaze.

Please go to the website for the Southside Sentinel for additional information:

Tragically on the night of Wednesday, July 18, the main building and boat pavilion of the Deltaville Maritime Museum were destroyed by fire. All of the boats pierside, the Boatshop, and Billz Bistro were undamaged.

The fire was thought to have started in the WA Johns’ Boat Shed of unknown causes, possibly electrical, and spread to the main exhibit building when the roof collapsed. The museum building is completely devastated, as is the boat pavilion which contained the WA Johns log canoe and several other historic small boats. That afternoon museum volunteers and 8 families from all over were in the final stages of building Wright’s Skiffs during family boatbuilding week.The pavilion had been tidied and tools put away in preparation for the next two days of contruction, when neighbors reported flames.The families’ boats were also a total loss, changing what was soon to be a joyful celebration into devastation.


In the museum, there was slightly better news. (All is point of view, isn’t it?) While the building is totally destroyed, the firefighters were able to save a bunch of stuff from the office, including file cabinets, and some models and pictures and artifacts–we’ll see how much. Some items near the floor were protected by the wet insulation that fell from the ceiling. However, all the exhibits were destroyed. The museum building is a total loss. We are glad that some of the contents was saved. Luckily, many original photos, including those of the F.D. Crockett, were stored off-site. Volunteers have been rescuing boatbuilding tools and other items that were tucked away. Anyone want a fire sale tee-shirt?

We were glad to see that amazingly the painting of  the late friend and board member  John Coe that hung in the John A. Coe Memorial Library was pretty much untouched, as was a painting and model of his steel schooner “Mistress Quickly.” His library, however, did not fair so well, but hopefully we have preserved the archives which his endowment is helping to develop.
Everyone is devastated, but everyone is determined. While at  this point we are all still in shock,  offers of assistance have been pouring in, and we are immensely grateful and overwhelmed.  With your help we’ll be better than ever.

To support the Deltaville Maritime Museum’s rebuilding efforts after the tragic fire, please consider becoming a Member of the Museum or, if you prefer, you may make a general donation to the Museum.  Check the Museum’s website for information.  Mail donations to:  Deltaville Maritime Museum, P. O. Box  466, Deltaville, VA 23043.

Sentinel Website can be accessed at:

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From Derelict to Landmark

F.D. Crockett underway on the Piankatank April 2012

On Thursday, June 21, 2012, the F.D. Crockett recieved Virginia State Landmark status and will soon be considered for the list of National Register of Historic Places in America. The Virginia Department of Historic Resources will issue the official press release soon, but we are  celebrating now. What’s especially nice for Captain John England that the same morning a new granddaughter was born. Two gifts in one day!

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Fantastic Voyage

An early start for the F.D. Crockett heading to OpSail

If John could have gotten us off to Norfolk before dawn, he would have–but 6:57 am  turned out to be the perfect time.  We had an ebb tide all the way to the entrance to Hampton Roads, then a flood tide up the Elizabeth River.  We made it to our dock at NOAA after a fantastic voyage of  5 1/2 hours.  We had expected two hours more, but we had cruised along at an unbelievable 10 1/2 knots.

We passed Old Point Comfort and Fort Monroe Thursday morning, heading once more towards a port that would have been familiar to earlier crews of the F.D. Crockett. This time, instead of passing work boats, we passed warships and the Godspeed, heading toward the tall ship anchorage at Lynhaven Inlet.

The Godspeed passes us as she motors out to the tall ship anchorage on Thursday morning.

We settled in at NOAA Marine Operations Center-Atlantic–a facility more used to ships that map the ocean floor than buyboats–along with sister buyboat Muriel Eileen, who once called Deltaville her home port.

We’re in the city–The Norfolk Tide light rail system passed right by our docks.

Tall ship Juan Sebastian de Elcano and the buyboat Muriel Eileen parade down the Elizabeth River at OpSail 2012 on Friday, June 9

While Crockett didn’t join the arrival parade on Friday morning, we were able to view the  Muriel Eileen as she came up the river with the tall ships. We headed to see the ships after they had arrived, set up our displays for visitors to the christening of the NOAA hydrographic survey ship Ferdinand R. Hassler, then to the Mayor’s reception that evening. Saturday NOAA,  a secure facility with guards and normally locked gates, opened them to invite visitors to NOAA Days on the Hague  and educational and children’s activities.  In addition to exhibits from NOAA  (Weather Service, Sanctuaries, and Coast Survey), the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Team, VIMS and CBF, there were tours of a number of vessels which included us, the Muriel Eileen, the Hassler (very impressive!), the Elizabeth River Project Learning Barge (an actual self-sufficient wetlands on the water), the Fay Slover from ODU and  a converted Viet Nam-era Swift boat used by by Tidewater Community College as well as several others.

The weekend was a whirlwind of visitors to the boat, receptions (Mayor, Governor, military and tall ships) and activities at Town Point Park–we were docked too far from the center of festivities to hit everything–but a highlight was a reception on the Norwegian frigate Thor Heyerdahl–with marinated (in Aquavit) reindeer, dried moose, pureed raspberries and cranberry liqueur–along with spectacular fireworks from the deck. A reception on our own Coast Guard’s Eagle celebrated the War of 1812 complete with crew members in period uniforms.  Of course, I have pictures of none of the spectacular stuff, as my camera was either a mile away at the boat or broken.

Captain David Cantera and wife Lena–dressed and ready for the Governor’s Ball– pose with the crew of the Muriel Eileen

It was a pleasure to visit a port where the F.D.Crockett and the Muriel Eileen both would have brought their wares on a regular basis–a tour of the harbor brought us to the Miles Oyster House, the last one still in business in Norfolk–but likely not for long. The nearby ice house that supplied it for nearly a century is thankfully being saved–as condominiums. Like the buyboats, the industries that supported them have also dwindled.

Tuesday morning we waited as first the military vessels and then the tall ships were blessed and departed.

Spanish Tall Ship Juan Sebastian de Elcano leaving OpSail 2012 passes F.D. Crockett and Muriel Eileen at NOAA docks

FD Crockett looks back at Norfolk as she departs with the tall ships on June 12

We joined the parade along with the Muriel Eileen following the Godspeed at about 9:00am.

Wind fills the Godspeed’s sails as she departs Norfolk Tuesday June 12

Todd Sessons from the Godspeed took this picture of the F.D. Crockett heading out the Elizabeth River.

Our journey home was made a little more exciting by the strong winds that greeted us on the bay. The tide was against us, the 20  knot winds were behind us, and the 5-6 foot swells made the journey interesting. The tall ships headed out to the Baltimore Channel and as they put up their sails became distant reminders of what the bay looked like a century ago. We made good time, and were glad to be home before it really started storming.

The Schooner Virginia, led by the Muriel Eileen and accompanied by the Godspeed, accompanied the tall ships out into the bay. The Muriel Eileen continued up to Baltimore, while the others, along with the F.D. Crockett headed back to their home ports.

Winds behind us and tide against us made for rolling seas on the way home.

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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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Summertime Cruising

The Boat Shop boys and the Crockett crew have  been busily building, sanding, and painting in order to get the   F.D. Crockett ready for her August 4 departure to Cape Charles, VA as part of the Chesapeake Bay Buyboat Reunion Tour. The Crockett will spend four days in Cape Charles as the first leg of her summer outreach cruise around the bay. There she will be participate in the parade of buyboats from the Chesapeake Bay Buyboat Association, and be a part of the town’s 125th Anniversary Festival, joining in a variety of festivities. The FD Crockett will be available for tours from 11-4 on Friday, August 5 and from 12-4 on Saturday, August 6 so that the crew can share the history of the boat, explain its restoration by the Museum, and give the public a hands-on look at bay maritime history.

On Monday, August 8, the F.D. Crockett will return to Deltaville to prepare to welcome the flotilla to Chesapeake Marine Railway. This, the former Deagle’s Railway, began as the Price boat-building shop where many of the bay’s historic boats were built. The rest of the boats will arrive Tuesday afternoon, August 9 and will be on display through Wednesday. Some boats may be open for tours, but the crews may be out seeing the sights of Middlesex County. The   Museum will host a special tour of the park and facilities for the buyboat crews while they are here.

On Thursday, August 11, the F.D. Crockett will travel with the fleet to Urbanna for the annual Chesapeake Bay Buyboat Homecoming where more festivities are planned. On Friday and Saturday August 12 & 13 the boats will be open for tours at Urbanna Town Marina from 10:00-5:00. The boats will return to their home ports on the morning of Sunday, August 14.
Portions of the Crockett’s outreach cruise have been funded by the Chesapeake Bay License Plate Grant in order to bring the history of the buyboats and the watermen who worked them to the generations who did not have the opportunity to see the beautiful craft during their heyday on the bay.

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