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Group to promote ‘Back in the Day’ historical cruises

by Raynell Smith
Curator, Deltaville
Maritime Museum

The Deltaville Maritime Museum’s reproduction of John Smith sailing barge, “Explorer,” was fitted with a user-friendly sailing rig this fall in anticipation of a part in the movie “To Have and To Hold.” Unfortunately, the movie big-wigs decided to use a blue screen instead of the real boat.

In the good news department, Explorer is more ready than ever for sailing adventures. With encouragement from our new president, Matt Holloway, the museum has created the Explorer Society to promote “Back in the Day” historical cruises. Kaptain Krunch, with decades of experience sailing an old-fashioned, gaff-rigged schooner, will be the sailing master for the society. Members will be trained to sail and row Explorer in her home waters.

Some of the cruises will re-live John Smith’s 17th-century experience of exploration and discovery. One cruise will be to Stingray Point with Ed Haile, editor of the “Jamestown Narratives.” During the day, participants will discuss the history of John Smith’s sails around the bay and his landfall on Stingray Point. Fishing and lunch are part of the day’s activities. Learning to sail a spritsail rig with leeboards will be part of the experience.

Sails up the Piankatank with a possible overnight at Berkley Island are on the agenda. The Piankatank is not only one of the most beautiful rivers on the Chesapeake, but has a long and varied history. Prehistoric man lived on Fishing Bay as evidenced by a stone axe found on Evelyn and Andy Turner’s property, now in the museum collection.

From John Smith’s writings we know there was an Indian village named Piankatank near Turk’s Ferry. On site was one of the largest piles of oyster shells on the bay.

In the 18th century, the action centered on Gwynn’s Island. A circumnavigation is planned with some Revolutionary War history thrown in. Wyatt Vrooman, a distant relation to the early settlers on Gwynn’s Island, will provide information about boatbuilding on the island.

During the Civil War, much action occurred on the waters around Middlesex. Several cruises are planned to visit the scenes of these conflicts and to recollect those who participated and the outcomes of these skirmishes.

In the months to come, Kaptain Krunch will be seeking members for the Explorer Society and training those members to sail and row the boat. The only requirement is an interest in sailing and history. Once the crew is trained, cruises will be scheduled. Contact the museum for more information at 804-776-7200. 

posted 11.22.2011

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