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Working Watermen’s Weekend

by Bill Powell

The Pierwalk, “Iva W.” and the Boat Shed at the Deltaville Maritime Museum are about to break out of their winter’s sleep and begin a variety of spring activities.

The Deltaville Maritime Museum and Holly Point Nature Park will hit the ground running this year with their season-opening festivities on May 1-2.

The official kickoff has been expanded into the first “Working Watermen’s Weekend” with lots to see and do on both land and water. This event pays homage to the memory of Willis Wilson, well-known Deltaville waterman and marina man.

On Saturday, May 2, “Willis Wilson Day,” all the museum facilities will be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. “Billz Bistro” will be open with barbecue, hot dogs and hamburgers. The park, as every day, will be open from dawn to dusk.

On the Waterfront

This year for the first time, the museum will actively recruit local working watermen to display their boats at the “Pierwalk” and talk to folks about their work. Plans are for the watermen to arrive at the creek between 2 and 5 p.m. Friday, May 1, after their work day.  Visitors are welcome to come down, “walk the Walk”, and watch the arrival and tie-up. The museum and park will close at 5 p.m. on May 1 for a private function.

On Saturday, May 2, the Pierwalk activities will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.. At 1 p.m, the president of the Virginia Watermen’s Association, Ken Smith of Heathsville, will speak on the current state of the Chesapeake Bay fisheries and its effect on area watermen.

Author and journalist Larry Chowning will then amuse the audience with one of his wonderful stories relating the life and times of watermen past. Larry, who has done more toward saving the history of Bay watermen than most anyone, has interviewed decades of skippers and crewmen over the years.

The activities on the Pierwalk will be an expansion of the Museum’s “Living History” programs, to include working oystermen, crabbers, clammers, a charter captain or two, gill netters, salvage craft and a pile driver. All the Captains will be with their vessels to answer questions and explain their particular fishery and work. Delta Marine Construction and Brian Fletcher, who built the beautiful pierwalk, will be on hand to show off their handiwork.

An oyster shell shoal will be laid in the water just off the pier with hand tongs for those who wish to experience that dying art and skill. The Boatshop guys, with the help of Kevin Wade at J&W Seafood, are also building a half-scale working soft shell crab shedding tank so young and old alike can see how this seafood favorite gets from the Bay waters into a frying pan.

The pier will be busting at the seams with boats. The museum’s restored buyboat, “F.D. Crockett,” will be on display with her Boatshop men on hand. Kaptain Krunch will be in the “Explorer,” the museum’s John Smith 1607 replica shallop, telling the story of Smith’s explorations and the discovery and naming of Stingray Point in Deltaville. Visitors can enjoy that “17th Century Experience” with a row around the creek.

Speaking of rowing, Wes and Wesley Summerfield will be on the pier with some Wright skiffs, canoes, kayaks, and lifejackets for those experienced paddlers who wish to explore the mysteries of Mill Creek.

Deltaville Maritime Museum and Holly Point Nature Park are located on Jackson Creek Road in Deltaville. If coming for the first time, signs on Route 33 easily direct motorists to the park. 

To find out more about the museum and its offerings, or to become a member, visit and click museumpark, or Google Deltaville Maritime Museum. 

posted 03.11.2009

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