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First Working Waterman’s Weekend pleases officials

Tour the historic FD Crockett with John England, project manager of the boat’s restoration. Take a cruise on Captain John Smith’s shallop, the Explorer. Just press play.

by Larry S. Chowning

The Deltaville Maritime Museum and Holly Point Nature Park hosted their first Working Waterman’s Weekend last Saturday.

Museum officials estimated about 2,000 people visited the museum and park. “I thought it was a really unusual affair,” said museum president Bob Kates. “It’s the first time we have honored our local watermen in this way, and I think it’s a stepping stone for a greater event in the future.”

Kates praised the work of event coordinator Bill Powell and others for their hard work in organizing the event. “I want to thank everyone who participated in the day,” he said. “The tone of the day was very positive. We are about events and the culture of the area. This worked in both directions.”

During a ceremony on Saturday, Robert Crump, chairman of the Middlesex Board of Supervisors, honored watermen by presenting a resolution from the board to Ken Smith, president of the Virginia Watermen’s Association.

One of the highlights of the day was the children who got to use nippers to tong oysters. “I think the kids really enjoyed tonging oysters from our pier,” said Kates.

The first weekend in May is when the museum usually opens and in the past that day has been dedicated to the late Willis Wilson, who was owner of Montgomery and Wilson Railway on Broad Creek.

The Deltaville Maritime Museum held its first Working Waterman’s Weekend on May 1-2. Pictured above at the Pierwalk is a miniature sailing skipjack, a real skipjack, and the shallop “Explorer” built by the museum in 2007. (Photo by Larry Chowning)

Wilson also was a Chesapeake Bay waterman. He crab dredged in the winter and haul seined for fish during the spring, summer and fall. Wilson died in June 2006.

This year the museum decided to expand its focus and honor all watermen. The interior of the museum was changed to include a display of the work museum boatbuilders are doing on the bay log boat “F.D. Crockett.” (Slideshow on FD Crockett repairs)

There were also new displays inside the museum showcasing the Deltaville community. Deltaville is celebrating its 100th anniversary of being named Deltaville this year, and part of the museum’s charge is to promote the heritage and culture of the entire community.

“This has been wonderful,” said Kates, “and we are already planning for it to be bigger and better.”

posted 05.06.2009

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