The F.D. Crockett was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 30, 2012. The vessel was named to the Virginia Landmarks Register-June, 2012.
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Visitors to the Deltaville Maritime Museum can observe the restoration of the F.D. Crockett at the museum docks. Progress is on-going. If she is not at the museum, this symbol of the bay's glory days is again traveling from port to port, spreading the stories of the maritime heritage of the Chesapeake.
Built in 1924, the nearly 63-foot F.D. Crockett is one of only two log-bottom buyboats built exclusively for power now existing on the bay, and represents the apex of log boat building on the Chesapeake. Built by the same techniques as the early sailing “canoes,” her nine-log hull was made specifically for a gasoline engine by Alex Gaines of Dare and finished off across the creek by John Franklin Smith at Smith Marine Railway. The vessel was donated to the Deltaville Maritime Museum in 2005 by Ron Turner, a descendant of the Smiths, and towed up the bay from Poquoson.
Originally built to haul freight for Ferdinand Desota Crockett of Seaford, The F.D. Crockett had many uses throughout her lifetime. After her sale to Marvin Lindsay in the late 1930s, she was converted to dredge oysters and crabs by “Captain Pretty” Green, who operated her for over 50 years. Log built deck boats were low to the water, which made them more stable for both dredging and off-loading produce. The F.D. Crockett was actively worked until 1994 when she was converted to a pleasure craft.
Ferdinand DeSota Crockett, shown here with his wife Betty, had the F.D. Crockett built as a freight boat. In addition to carrying produce such as watermelon and potatoes, even pigs, he used the boat to carry family belongings when they moved. His granddaughter, Alberta Flowers, born the year the boat was built, used the Crockett as a playhouse. She helped rededicate the boat in 2011.
Since her arrival at the Deltaville Maritime Museum as a beautiful but decaying hull in September of 2005, over 8500 hours of volunteer labor have gone into restoring the F.D. Crockett. Because the Crockett was continually worked until the 1990s, the logs, the longest of which is 55 feet, were still in excellent condition. However, her decks and pilot house started crumbling and her sides deteriorated once she was no longer an active workboat.
First rebuilt was the Crockett's pilot house. While the decaying hull was still in the water, the Crockett's lines were preserved by the addition of new frames and timbers. Project manager John England and his volunteer crew used a combination of time-honored methods, traditional materials, and innovative techniques that should keep the boat alive for another century. Initial work was done to retain the integrity of its huge bottom logs. In a process which took over four years, deteriorated wood was carefully cut away; framing and planking were rebuilt while maintaining the dignity of her shape; and the log chunks of the bow and stern were replaced. The boat was decked over with 2” square strips of cypress, after which the re-created pilot house was lifted onto her new deck beams in August 2009.
After the engine was started in 2010, work on all the details of the F.D. Crockett continued. Toe rails, monkey rails and bulwarks were added to the decks. Then hatches to access the cargo hold were built, the wheelhouse completed, and a forepeak cabin added to provide storage for rope and anchor chain as well as sleeping quarters for two or three crew members. Progress continues, as volunteers work on details which will bring the boat back to its nearly-original working condition. Many original fittings are incorporated into the restored portions of the boat.
In 1924, sailing schooners and skipjacks would have still been working the waters around Deltaville, carrying the produce of the Chesapeake Bay and the farmlands that bordered its shores. But the gasoline engine was changing the way oysters, crabs and watermelon were transported. In the log boat building center of Virginia, Alexander Gaines and John Franklin Smith were building a boat that incorporated several centuries of knowledge and tradition with the newest technology of the time. The 62.8 foot nine-log bottom buyboat, the F.D.Crockett, restored by the Deltaville Maritime Museum, combined a craft adapted by European settlers from the Native American log canoe and perhaps adapted by slaves brought from Africa with the then-cutting-edge internal combustion engine. Its construction marked the end of an era of sail and the beginning of a new one of motor. This motorized Poquoson log deck boat represented the culmination of three centuries of trial and error and development in log boatbuilding.
The last flurry of log boat building came about because the low sides of the log boats made it easier for men working in the burgeoning oyster and crab dredge fisheries to haul the dredge full of oysters and crabs up onto the decks. Because of this, demand for large log canoes continued into the 1920s. By then, deadrise, plank construction had pretty much evolved. As electricity and powered sawmills became more available, as occurred in the area around Deltaville, large frame built boats and smaller vessels such as the Deltaville deadrise replaced the log boats that had once been common. The F.D. Crockett was one of the last large log boats ever built on the bay.She is one of only two large log deck boats still in existence built specifically for gasoline engine.
Once the boat became operational in 2010, the F.D. Crockett began traveling again to the ports she had visited as a working vessel. Her mission is to bring the story of the bay’s working watermen to the communities around the Chesapeake. She has since visited the Urbanna Oyster Festival, Reedville’s Antique and Classic Boat Festival, Poquoson Seafood Festival Races, and been a part of Norfolk’s OpSail 2012. She also participates each summer in the Chesapeake Bay Buyboat Association’s Reunion Tours.