Buy boats dock in Smithfield

Published 10:06 pm Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A dozen Chesapeake Bay deadrise workboats came to Smithfield Station as part of their annual “buy boat” reunion tour on Wednesday.

A dozen Chesapeake Bay deadrise workboats came to Smithfield Station as part of their annual “buy boat” reunion tour on Wednesday.

By William Scott

Correspondent

Folks in Smithfield got a rare chance on Wednesday to take a close look at the history of oysters on the Chesapeake Bay.

Newsletter

Email newsletter signup

A dozen Chesapeake Bay deadrise workboats docked at Smithfield Station as part of an annual “buy boat” reunion tour.

The Chesapeake Bay deadrise workboats are a group of ex-buy boats that were built in the 1920s to work in the oyster harvesting business. As smaller boats caught oysters, they would go to the buy boat, usually located near the center of the body of water, and sell them. They buy boat would then take the oysters and sell them to the market.

Capt. David Rollins, right, and Capt. Sonny Hines, left, converse about the oyster business on the Samuel M. Bailey.

Capt. David Rollins, right, and Capt. Sonny Hines, left, converse about the oyster business on the Samuel M. Bailey.

This tour has been going on during the first 10 days of August for 10 years. Each year, the boats travel out either north or south of the Chesapeake Bay. All the boats that participate originate from the Chesapeake Bay.

This is an annual vacation for many of those who made the trip as well as some of their families, according to Capt. David Rollins of boat “Miss Trudy.”

After arriving at the Smithfield Station around noon, the owners of the 12 workboats gave tours of the vessels to interested patrons, according to Randy Pack, vice president of Smithfield Station.
“It’s great to have these boats in for publicity,” said Brian Pack, vice president of Smithfield Station. “We support the Chesapeake Bay heritage.”

A representative of the Chesapeake Bay Buy Boat Association contacted Brian Pack about two months ago to seek approval of the visit.

“It’s old technology that’s gone to roost,” Rollins said of the current state of the buy boats. Currently, the Poppa Francis, owned and built by Francis Goddard, is one of the few buy boats that still operates today. The Poppa Francis was one of the 12 workboats that docked at Smithfield Station.

The boats will travel to Norfolk on Thursday before beginning their return to the north on Friday as they visit Cape Charles.