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Buyboat Homecoming: ‘biggest and best’

by Larry S. Chowning

Learn about the importance of the buyboat to the Chesapeake Bay’s maritime history. Just press play on the video above.  (Shot and edited by Mike Kucera)
Good weather and beautiful boats brought hundreds of people to Urbanna last Friday and Saturday to get a glimpse of the area’s maritime past at the 5th Annual Chesapeake Bay Buyboat Homecoming.

The event was held at the Urbanna Town Marina at Upton’s Point on Urbanna Creek.

Large wooden buyboats were used for decades to go to fishing grounds and purchase seafood from watermen who were working there. There were well over a thousand of these boats built between 1900 and 1960. 

With the decline of the Bay’s fisheries, however, these large deadrise boats are now being converted into yachts, but many people still remember the boats as commercial working craft. 

“This is the third buyboat rendezvous held in Urbanna,” said Bill Hight, director of the event. “This was the biggest and best rendezvous that we have ever had.”

The other two rendezvous were held in Rock Hall, Maryland, and on Tangier Island.

“Everything seemed to fit this year,” said Hight. “We had good August summer weather and a wonderful group of concerned people who wanted to see the boats.

“The boats that attended are in the best condition that I’ve ever seen, and we had the most boats we’ve ever had,” Hight said. “Some of the boat owners kept count of people coming aboard their boats, and they counted between 400 and 500 people.

“We really got the people here, and it wasn’t just an Urbanna and Middlesex crowd,” said Hight. “It was people from Hampton, Plymouth, Northern Neck, Poquoson and from all the way down in Crittenden (near Suffolk). It was well-attended by people who had links to the boats.”

Ted Parish, owner and captain of the buyboat “Nellie Crockett,” said that other than the rough trip down the Bay to get to Urbanna, it was one of the best rendezvous yet. 

The homeport of the “Nellie Crockett” is Georgetown, Maryland, on the Sassafras River. She is the only deadrise-planked-built buyboat that’s on the National Historic Landmark list. 

“The people rolled out the red carpet for us and we really appreciate it,” said Parish. “The Urbanna Creek Yacht Club sponsored the meal on Friday night and it was the first time I’ve ever eaten stingray. It wasn’t bad.”

Hight thanked the Town of Urbanna for allowing the buyboats to come to town and for all the help he received from town employees during the event. “It was an effort that took a lot of people to make this thing work,” he said.

posted 08.05.2009

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