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Deltaville Maritime Museum

Family Boatbuilding Week

June 23, 2022

By Bill Powell, Events Director: Deltaville Maritime Museum and Holly Point Nature Park

Did you know that once a year, right here on the Middle Peninsula, people from all over the country get together to build a boat, in one week, that they can take home? Would it amaze you to watch families of folks just like yourselves turn little stacks of raw wood into sleek, floating watercraft? Would you believe it is happening right here in Middlesex County, VA? Is it possible it might be happening within easy driving distance? Could it be a one-of-a-kind event? Is it totally open to the public? Interested?  If so, read on!

Take a short day trip to Deltaville, VA, and visit the 17th Annual “Family Boat Building Week” at the Deltaville Maritime Museum and Holly Point Nature Park located at 287 Jackson Creek Road. Watch the “build” families “hands on” with woodworking tools, work as a family team to problem solve, and share a wonderful experience on pristine Mill Creek on the Museum’s waterfront. This all happens Sunday June 19th– Saturday June 25th  . A Great Skiff Race” starts at 10am on Saturday the 25th, and the Trophy presentation is immediately after. Come by road or water. Find out more on the Museum website::www.deltavillemuseum.com

At the end of this year’s Family Boatbuilding Week, over 150 Wright skiffs will have been built at the Museum by over 1000 family members, working together, from across the USA. 

Begun in 2002 from a challenge by “Wooden Boat” Magazine to keep wooden boat building alive in the country, FBW was one of several similar multi-day camps started in 2003 under this imperative to teach small wooden boat building around the US.

Today, in 2022, the Maritime Park’s “Family Boatbuilding Week” is the only remaining, week long school, still using real wood planks, the camp atmosphere and traditional methods.

FBW was postponed in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid.

During the 5 day “camp” families from all over the country build the iconic Deltaville 14’ “workskiff” designed by Deltaville boatbuilder, John Wright.

 “Family Boatbuilding Week is the annual event at the Museum that most encompasses our Maritime mission. Boatbuilding Week teaches families historic woodworking skills, gathers families in the Nature Park for a week together, and preserves a workcraft design that has been the “light utility vehicle” of Bay watermen throughout Bay Maritime history,” pointed out a Museum spokesman. “You really need to see the progression with grandparents, parents and their kids all working together to get these boats ready to float. It really gives you that “warm and fuzzy”

Visitors and kibitzers are all welcome to stop by the 36 acre Maritime Park any time during the week and watch the progress and enjoy as the families and groups work in concert to form a thing of beauty.

The boatbuilding begins on Sunday, June 19th and by Wednesday the skiffs are really beginning to take shape. On Friday all the skiffs will be painted their final color, the names will be lettered by Wes Summerfield  and the boats launched to allow the planks to swell.

Then, on Saturday, the 25th, the finished skiffs, manned by the intrepid build families, enter the “Great Skiff Race” at 10:00 Am for FBW “braggin’ rights”. It’s fun to watch as the determined skiff builders play “bumper boats” jockeying for position behind the starting line.  Listen as the blast of the Nationally Historically Registered 1924 buyboat F.D. Crockett’s  air horn signals the start. Enjoy the “free for all” as the boats melee around the windward mark. Who will cross the finish line first? Come out and see for yourself.

Shortly after the race, the good humored “Trophy Presentation” begins, marking the official end of “Family Boat Building, 2022” . While you are at the Museum and Park, enjoy all the other attractions.

For more information about the Deltaville Maritime Museum, Holly Point Nature Park, Maritime exhibits, Markets, events, concerts, Family Boatbuilding Week, or  a 2023 FBW application simply call the office at 804-776-7200 or check out the website at www.deltavillemuseum.com or e-mail office@deltavillemusuem.com. The Museum and office are open Monday and Tuesday 10am-4pm, and Thursday, Friday, and Saturday 10am-4pm except Sunday 12-4pm. The Museum and Park are located at 287 Jackson Creek Road off Route 33. Turn right at the Citgo station. The Park is open dawn til dusk.