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What is a Buyboat?

What is a Buyboat? | Museums of Middlesex County, Virginia

The Deltaville Maritime Museums flagship the “F.D. Crockett” is a buyboat. Go by the Museum anytime in daylight and look at her lines and configuration.

According to Larry Chowning’s definitive book “Chesapeake Bay Buyboats”, “buyboats range in size from 40-100 feet…have frame-built hulls, some are log built and most are deadrise…..the distinguishing characteristics ……are that there is a mast and boom configuration forward of the hold, the pilot house or house is aft of the hold, and the hull is decked over.”

Okay, now we know what it looks like, but why is it called a buyboat?

Well, that’s pretty simple and just a little misleading because “BUY”-boats were called that because one of their many uses was to “buy” seafood from waterman off smaller boats and sell the seafood at one of the major markets such as Crisfield or Baltimore. This was only a small part of what they did!!!

What is a Buyboat? | Museums of Middlesex County, Virginia

In this photo from Larry Chowning’s book “Chesapeake Bay Buyboats” the buyboat Gracie Lee “buys” oysters from waterman at the head of a creek after a day of fishing.

Buyboats also hauled freight, dredged for crabs, tonged oysters and planted seed oysters.

Buyboats were also variously called deck boats(in Virginia), run boats, runners, mast boats(because of the forward mast),freight, or packet boats.

The term “deck boat” distinguished buyboats from pound net boats with a similar configuration, but not decked over.