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Lots of boats come to Oriental, some tie up at the Town Dock for a night or two, others drop anchor in the harbor for a while. If you've spent any time on the water you know that every boat has a story. The Shipping News on TownDock.net brings you the stories of the boats that have visited recently.

"Nellie Crockett"
Buy-Boat Stewardship
October 29, 2013
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ed Parish is at the bow of his 88-year old boat, the “Nellie Crockett” when the word comes. Stewards. “We’re owners,” he says, “but we’re really stewards of history.”

Nellie Crockett
Two Chesapeake Bay Buy-Boats, the Thomas J and Nellie Crockett docked in Oriental last weekend and let many people walk the decks and take a look. And photos.

The vessel that carries that history, the “Nellie Crockett” is a 62-foot long Chesapeake Bay Buy-Boat that Ted and his wife, Mimi, brought to Oriental in late October. For two days, the Parishes welcomed aboard passersby who came by for a closer look from the docks of Garland Fulcher Seafood where the “Nellie Crockett” and another Buy-Boat, the “Thomas J” were tied up.

Nellie Crockett
Surf surveys the hold forward of the Nellie Crockett’s pilot house. Behind him, the plaque says that in 1994, the boat was designated to be a National Historic Landmark (that floats)

For the curious, it was a rare chance to step aboard a National Historic Landmark. (A bronze plaque stating that is attached to the outside of the pilot house.)

Chesapeake Bay Buy-Boat

The “Nellie Crockett” was built in 1925-26 for man on Tangier Island, Virginia man. His name was Andrew Crockett, his daughter was Nellie.

Nellie Crockett
Mimi Parish in the pilot house of the Nellie Crockett, a 1925-Chesapeake Bay Buy-Boat that she and her husband have owned for 23 years.

The boat named for the girl is called a Buy-Boat because like other boats of this style, the “Nellie Crockett” would ply the oyster bed waters — primarily the Lower Chesapeake — and buy oysters harvested by watermen on the smaller skipjack sailboats. These would be stacked, several bushels high, the freeboard low to the water, and then taken to shore for sale.

Nellie Crockett
In the hold of the Nellie Crockett, Mimi Parish holds a photo of the buy-boat mid-century when bushels of oysters were stacked high on the deck.

The oysters stayed up on deck, but down in her hold, the “Nellie Crockett” also transported gravel and canned goods from canneries on the Bay or watermelons from as far away as Edenton, NC. One writer has described them as the “tractor-trailers of the Chesapeake” in their day.

For three years during WWII, the “Nellie Crockett” was pressed in to service as a fireboat for the War Shipping Administration. Her name, between 1942 and 1945 was changed to a number: CG-65015F. After the war, she went back to her original name and purpose.

Nellie Crockett
The forward deck as seen from the pilot house. This is where bushels of oysters would be stacked as the Nellie Crockett made the rounds of oyster-harvesting skipjacks and then brought the haul to shore.

The buy-boats were the way for goods to get from one part of the Bay to another, but Ted Parish says around the mid-1950’s “that industry started dying out. The Bay Bridge was built in ’56,” he notes “And that was the start of refrigerated trucking. The roads became passable.” The boats were not as important as they once were.

Nellie Crockett
The hold of the Nellie Crockett no longer carries watermelons. It’s the main living and sleeping quarters on board.

Still, the “Nellie Crockett” kept at the buy-boat cargo trade under several owners, until the mid-1980’s.

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Posted Tuesday October 29, 2013 by Melinda Penkava

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