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Take a stroll along the Pierwalk

by Bill Powell

The new 350-foot Pierwalk located on Mill Creek will be abuzz with things to see and to do this year at the Holly Point Art Show and Seafood Festival at the Deltaville Maritime Museum on Saturday, October 11. Festival-goers will be able to stroll comfortably along the 8-foot-wide wrap-around pier with plenty of room for strolling, talking or just standing and looking. Ramps and steps at both ends of the pier allow easy access for all.

Entering the Pierwalk from the south, the first boat on display will be the deadrise “Hannibal.” This 22’ classic hull, owned by Steve Allen of Deltaville, was used in the river scene of the 2001 Ridley Scott movie of the same name, parts of which were filmed on the James River.

Next on the dock will be the 1952 “Cooper Hill.” Originally built by Rob Dudley on Jackson Creek for oyster tonging, this beautiful 36’ round stern deadrise has been totally restored by her current owner, Keith Ruse of Deltaville Boat Yard. “We saved her from the burn pile and have been working on her on and off the last two years,” said Ruse.

The unusual thing about the “Cooper Hill” is that she is totally open, with no decks or pilot house. “You can really see how she’s put together,” said Ruse. She also has a steering stick, popular with many watermen, rather than a wheel. Very few workboats over 25 feet are undecked. She is powered by a 453 Detroit Diesel. Unsupervised boarding will be allowed.

The Deltaville Maritime Museum has extended “hands across the water” to its sister museum at Tangier Island. Freddie and Cindy Lou Wheatley of Tangier are bringing their 47’ working Deltaville deadrise (from Tangier) and themselves for a first-time trip to the festival and to show off their “Cynthia Lou” (see related story). She will be at the end of the south pier at the turn to the north.

Mr. Wheatley, a credit to watermen everywhere, has promised to man his “pride and joy” and answer any questions about his boat and the work he does aboard her. “Cynthia Lou” will be the only deadrise on display that is still working Bay waters. She was built by Grover Lee Owens of Deltaville in 1989.

Mrs. Wheatley has promised to bring some exhibits and information from the new Tangier Island Museum for display in the Museum Tea House.

The “F.D. Crockett” has moved slightly north along the dock to make room for the “Cynthia Lou.” If you have not seen the “Crockett” since the summer, the progress that has been made will amaze you. With the exception of the original nine logs, every bit of the hull has been replaced. The deck beams are in, topside planking is on, and rub rails are in place—she is a thing of beauty. The “Crockett” will be, when completed, the museum’s signature ambassador to the Bay.

John England, project manager and head ship’s carpenter, commented, “When she first arrived, you could see the gracious lines of what obviously was once a beautiful boat, but she was in bad shape. You really need to see the boat now to appreciate how far she’s come, and how much we have accomplished.”

Next along the dock is the Chesapeake Marine Railway’s restored deadrise the “Only Son.” Built by Dooley Weston in 1958 as a patent tonger, this 42’ round stern deadrise hull and pilot house have been completely restored by Jon Farinholt and his team at the railway. With her slightly raked cabin and beaded pilothouse, she is proportioned perfectly. Farinholt and his folks will have someone aboard to answer questions.

The Museum Boatshop hopes to have a restored skipjack moored just off the pier for viewing, but the remaining space from the “Only Son” to the north turn is being left for folks wanting to come to the festival by boat. The entrance channel has been marked and there will be about 150 feet of available space for festival mariners to tie up. First come, first served.

At the north turn will be the museum’s John Smith Barge/Shallop re-creation, “Explorer.” Go 400 years back in time and row or ride the “Explorer,” and pretend you and 17 of your friends are just starting on a 185-day open boat mapping expedition around the Bay with no roof, hostiles on the shore, and no A/C or TV. Let Kaptain Krunch and his intrepid crew guide your journey. But beware! The pirates!
Wes Summerfield, in conjunction with the Museum Boatshop, will have one of the “Wright” skiffs in the water for festival-goers to have a hands-on rowing experience on the creek on a smaller craft. Built at the museum’s July “Family Boatbuilding Week,” this popular, easily-handled flat-bottomed skiff is smooth rowing and stable for young and old alike.

As you are walking the “Pierwalk,” remember, all of these exhibits are on the creek side. Don’t forget to turn around and look to the shore for the “Living Shoreline Exhibit.” Becky Ferrell, Bob Kates, the “Gardenerds” and volunteers too numerous to mention have created a natural shoreline designed to prevent erosion and to beautify, without bulkheads or rip-rap. Bio-logs, grasses and a lot of love and effort have created a shoreline slope effective, edifying, and easy on the eyes. Take a look.

A Master Gardener and shoreline erosion control experts from Hammer Time Marine will be on hand to answer questions.

posted 10.02.2008

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