One of our signature events at the Deitaville Maritime Museum is our annual family boat building week in July in which families build 12-foot or 14-foot skiffs and then race them.
It’s a tradition that goes back to the founding of the museum in 2002 and is centered around traditional boat building based on the design of John E. Wright, a noted 20th century Deltaville boat builder.
Wright was a boat builder who began building skiffs with his two brothers in Deltaville in the early 1900s. Familiar with the local timber supplies from hauling them throughout the Chesapeake Bay area, John Wright set up shop in his back yard, a common practice of the era.
Wright had access to ample lumber supplies from nearby stands of timber that were sawn into boards by saw mills operating around the community. Wright also had plenty of customers who appreciated the craftsmanship of his work.
His boats are known for their elegant looks while being very serviceable, perfect for either pleasure cruising on Chesapeake Bay or working the water for its signature Virginia blue crabs and oysters.
More than 100 boats have been built and launched over the years at the Deltaville Maritime Museum’s Family Boatbuilding week. The week is as much about family bonding as it is about building a skiff to take out on the bay or a local river or creek.
With names like “Jelly Fish,” “Deborah Ann,” “Flare On,” “Blu C’s,” “Patriot,” “Thunderbird II,” and “Iceberg,” our boat building week gives up to 10 families a year a memorable experience. The week concludes with a race of the skiffs in Mill Creek, which borders the museum grounds.
Our Boat Building Week has been featured in local, regional and trade publications. Here’s a few links to stories that feature the Deltaville Maritime Museum family boatbuilding projects:
The House and Home Magazine
While some general woodworking experience will be helpful, pure novices are welcome and will receive assistance from our capable staff of volunteers. Each “team” receives a kit that contains all the material needed to build the skiffs.
It’s a challenging, rewarding, entertaining and enlightening adventure to participate in our boatbuilding week. We think there’s no better way to enjoy Chesapeake Bay and its myriad of tributaries than in your own skiff built with your own hands and the hands of your fellow team members.
At the end of your week at the family boatbuilding event, and on all of your future trips out into the bay and its connecting waters, we think you’ll agree.