If you aren’t from the Virginia/Maryland area, chances are you’ve never heard of buy boats. And I must admit that, although I’d heard the term before, I didn’t know much about them until recently.
In years past, buy boats were used to haul cargo, usually seafood, in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Primarily, watermen would pull up alongside a buy boat and sell their oysters directly to its owner. This saved the watermen time, enabling them to keep working, rather than having to take the oysters to be sold.
Last week, about a dozen buy boats visited the town of Smithfield as part of their yearly tour of ports in the Chesapeake Bay area. They stayed overnight at Smithfield Station Marina. The “Station” is also a restaurant and hotel, and the owners are friends of ours. They invited Motor Man and me up to the “Crow’s Nest” to have the best vantage point for photos.
It was a gorgeous day, and I seized the opportunity to take LOTS of pictures of the scenery while I was up there. I’m sure I’ll be sharing some of those photos in future posts.
Most of the buy boats on the tour are no longer in service, but have been repurposed as pleasure boats. The “Poppa Francis” is the exception. We were told her captain is 85 years young and works everyday.
As it turns out, Motor Man knows the captain of another of the boats. His name is Bill Hight, and his boat is the 55th Virginia. We were invited on board, and Motor Man took a picture of me in the wheelhouse with Captain Bill.
A view of some of the boats at the marina with Smithfield Station in the background.
The next day, the boats left Smithfield and sailed by our house en route to their next stop, Waterside, in Norfolk.
Here’s Captain Bill’s boat. By the way, it was built in 1971, so it’s one of the newer boats.
The beautiful Nellie Crockett, built in 1925:
And the Samuel M. Bailey, built in 1957.
My knowledge of watermen, oysters and buy boats is still very limited, but it was a treat to be able to see these boats and learn more about their place in history.