Theodore L. Parish
NELLIE CROCKETT (oyster buy-boat)
Sassafras River, Galena, Kent County
NELLIE CROCKETT, a classic plank-on-frame Chesapeake deadrise design oyster buy-boat (a vessel which traveled to the oysters beds and bought oysters directly from the oyster boats working the oyster beds), official number 225369, is homeported on the Sassafras River at Georgetown, Kent County, Maryland. CROCKETT was built in 1926 for Andrew A. Crockett of Tangier, Virginia. She is 61'-7"long on deck, has a 20'-4" beam, and has a draft of 6'-5". Throughout her career she has been listed as 52 tons gross and 35 tons net. Her wide beam and moderate draft is typical of buy-boats which must carry large loads in the shallow waters characteristic of Chesapeake Bay. CROCKETT maintains her original physical appearance.
NELLIE CROCKETT is a classic frame-and-plank Chesapeake deadrise buy-boat. Larry Chowning, who has written more about them than anyone, refers to the buy-boat as the "tractor trailer of the Chesapeake." Buy-boats were the principal vessels to transport and distribute seafood on the Chesapeake Bay prior to refrigeration, good road systems, and expansion of the railroad. While the oyster dredge boats such as the bugeye and the skipjack are famous as being, or once being, part of North America's last commercial fishing fleet, it was the buy-boat that carried their harvest to market, a vital yet unglamorous aspect of our maritime history. The classic lines of CROCKETT have caught the eye of three of the regions more prominent artists, Franklin A. Saye, Neil Harpe, and John Barber. All three artists have produced paintings depicting NELLIE CROCKETT, and two have published prints of the result.