Buy Boats Visit Smithfield

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.

marina at smfd stn 8-7-2013 5-31-35 PM

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.

poppa francis 8-7-2013 5-16-26 PM

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.

db and bill hight2 8-7-2013 6-16-02 PM

A view of some of the boats at the marina with Smithfield Station in the background.

nelli crockett 8-7-2013 5-45-07 PM

The next day, the boats left Smithfield and sailed by our house en route to their next stop, Waterside, in Norfolk.

poppa francis underway 8-8-2013 9-40-47 AM 8-8-2013 9-40-47 AM

Here’s Captain Bill’s boat. By the way, it was built in 1971, so it’s one of the newer boats.

55th va underway 8-8-2013 9-40-27 AM

The beautiful Nellie Crockett, built in 1925:

nellie crocket underway 8-8-2013 9-37-04 AM

And the Samuel M. Bailey, built in 1957.

samuel bailey underway 8-8-2013 9-33-07 AM

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.

16 responses to “Buy Boats Visit Smithfield

  1. Great opportunity to get to see the buy boats up close and personal AND meet the men who pilot them…..indeed a bit of history on the water and seeing how fresh oysters are one of my favorite things, I find the buy boats super interesting!


  2. Oh I bet those boat captains have stories to tell.

  3. Such a nice blog today. Your photo of you and Bill brought back memories. What a neat guy. The pictures of the boats are beautiful and your vantage point is priceless. What a day!

  4. Oh I love your photos! It looks like soo much fun! I spy a boat dog too! hehe! Pawesome! =^.^=

  5. That was so interesting….never heard of the ‘buy boats’. They sure do add to the scenery!

  6. What a beautiful, rare glimpse of a slice of a waterman’s life that I’d never heard of. Thanks for sharing your amazing pictures.

  7. Captain Bill looks just like a captain should look!

  8. I never heard of buy boats either so I really enjoyed learning something new from your post. And those boats sure looked beautiful from your bird’s eye view. How neat that you got to watch them sail right by your house!

  9. thanks for educating us on the buy boats! neat concept and certainly welcome, i bet!

  10. LOL we agree with Pix, here we would call him Captain Birds eye 🙂 Lovely photo’s and what a fun time xx0xx
    Mollie and Alfie

  11. I had never heard of these until you sent me that pic message the other day.. a great day for photos; especially from the crow’s nest .. another view I’ve never had before !

  12. I never heard of buy boats either so this was not only a wonderful post and the pictures of the boats and Captain Bill were great, but now I’ve learned something too. Dianna – you Rock! 🙂

  13. Shirley Matthews Dunn

    What a good piece of history told here.about life on the water. Buy Boats was something I had never heard either. How great it was you could go in the crow’s nest to get these wonderful pictures! Great blog!!

  14. That’s really interesting and what a beautiful view you have. We’ve been to Virginia and were really in awe of all the cute, scenic little towns.

  15. Interesting history, Dianna. I’d never heard of buy boats. Our employee appreciation dinner is being held at Smithfield Station this weekend. I’m excited to see it.

  16. Pingback: Prints Charming | these days of mine

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