This is the Winnie Estelle. She was built in 1920 in Chrisfield Maryland. In 1986 we salvaged her off of a beach in Belize; bent and broken with rust streaks down her rotten planked sides.
It took us six years to restore her and for the past 16 years she has been taking tourist out to the reef in Belize. The Winnie has a mooring off of Ambergris Caye, where San Pedro Town is located. I went down to Belize and saw her during the rebuilding, but have never been back since she has been operating.
We are looking for a home for her, or she could be a home for some special people who may want a change of life style.
The Winnie has been written about in a book called Chesapeake Bay Buy Boats by Larry Chowning. The last pages of the book are devoted to the Winnie as she is the finest restoration of any of Chesapeake Bay Buy Boats ever built. We found her decaying on a beach in Belize and six years later set her out solid and strong in the Caribbean waters of the Quays of Belize.
Pass this video around if you know of any adventurous folks that would take the wheel of the Winnie Estelle . . . Boat and Business. . . Don [email protected]
Built in 1920 at Smith Island, in the Chesapeake Bay waters of Crisfield Maryland, and rebuilt in Belize from Honduras Heart Pine, Belizean Cabbage Bark, and other hardwoods of great strength and durability. The original keel is still sound and intact.
Attention was paid to every detail as this old Chesapeake Bay Buy Boat was restored to pristine condition. To the right is the cargo hold and guest quarters. She also has a custom mahogany pilot house with two bunks, galley and head.
An economical and reliable Straight six caterpillar diesel 3-33B.
2 1/2 to 1 reduction cat gear. Turbo charged with complete engine room top components. A new shaft and prop was installed to match the engine.
"The Winnie Estelle is the finest restoration of a Chesapeake Bay Buy Boat that I have ever seen." As quoted by Melbourne Smith when he visited Belize and sailed aboard the Winnie Estelle. Melbourne Smith overseen the construction of the M.V. California and the M.V. Pride of Baltimore. Melbourne came to Belize seeking material for these ships and the incredible lumber available in Belize is also what the Winnie Estelle is rebuilt with.
The Chesapeake Bay Buy Boat, Winnie Estelle no longer carries cargo, but has remained active way down south and has been taking tourists out to the reef and Blue Hole in the warm caribbean waters of Belize since 1992. She is now docked on the Rio Dulce in Guatemala and it is our intention to bring her back to the Chesapeake, to the city Crisfield Maryland, where she was built in 1920. The 2000 mile trip will happen in early summer 2010, God willing.
The Chesapeake Bay Buy Boats are an endangered species in our American history. In the days long past, before tractor trailer trucks and highways, produce and sea food and mail and other cargo were moved from town to town and city to city along the Chesapeake Bay from Norfolk Virginia to Baltimore Maryland and the buy boats were there doing their part. Now with those years only memories to some there are very few buy boats left and only one that we know of that has remained original in design and in perfect condition thanks to the efforts of three men from Florida and Belize who salvaged the sinking Buy Boat and undertook a 6 year project to restored her.
It is not necessary to mention those gentleman now because the main focus of this web site is the destiny of the Winnie Estelle. Those men have done their part and have restored the Winnie Estelle; now a national treasure.
The purpose of this web site is to Bring the Winnie Estelle Home; back to the Chesapeake, 90 years since she was launched, and she will return in museum quality condition. Her final destination will be the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. Her immediate destination is Crisfield Maryland.
You can Bring the Winnie Estelle Home. If you would like to own this amazing piece of American heritage, or if you or your organization, society, or association is qualified as a benefactor for the Winnie Estelle please contact us.
It began on Ewell, Smith Island, Maryland, in 1916 when Noah T. Evans was asked to build a boat to carry the mail, freight and passengers from Crisfield to Smith Island. He built the Island Belle which ran back and forth for 74 years.
In 1920, during the oyster boom he built a 66-foot buy boat and named it the Winnie Estelle after his two daughters. In 1922 he built the Dora Estelle another buy boat and named it after his wife and youngest daughter.
These buy boats were some of the original workhorses of the bay moving seafood and produce to ports in the US. The Winnie Estelle was written about in a book by Larry Chowning where he described her as one of the finest restorations of any of the Chesapeake Bay Buy boats ever built.
The Winnie Estelle has over a 90-year history as she was passed from oneowner to another and in the 1970s made her way to Belize where it was used to transport lumber and eventually used for tours off the island.
The Winnie Estelle has kept its original design and is in perfect condition. Only about 20 percent of the original material it was built out of remainssince she was salvaged in 1986 from a sure death where she was adrift ona reef off of Belize.
Capt. Roberto Smith and two other men undertook a 5-year project to restore her utilizing Honduras heart pine, Belizean cabbage bark and other hardwoods of great strength and durability. The original keel is still sound and intact.
Smith made a trip to the Eastern Shore in the 1980s to learn more about buy boats before deciding whether to salvage the Winnie.
"Some of the old hands in the boatyards convinced me that was the thing to do," he said.
After the careful restoration of the Winnie she was used to ferry tourists around Belize.
The summer of 2012 saw another changing of hands for the Winnie Estelle as she was purchased by Michael Whitehill and now she is at a private dock on the Chester River.
The following is from a message board in Belize about the trip to bring the Winnie Estelle home:
"Here's the latest news on the 'Winnie Estelle', for those of you who grew so fond of her....many who grew up with her....and it's wonderful news! She is safely home in the Chesapeake Bay after a long and grueling trip from Guatamala that measured some 1700 miles and 59 days! The plans for her return to Crisfield, MD, thendecomissioning at the Maritime Museum, fell through. Instead she was purchased by a private owner who's plans include repairs that will carry her through the strict US Coast Guard inspection that is necessary before putting her back to work running charters here! She will perform sunset cruises, educational tours, and load kayakers to different locations in and around the Chester River, in the Upper Chesapeake. 'Winnie' lives on! I was fortunate enough to be called upon to complete the journey from Fernandina Beach, Florida to home when Capt. Smith fell ill and couldn't complete the trip. I hope he's feeling better. After all, if it weren't for him, 'Winnie' may still be sitting on that shoal, or worse. After 9 days of rain, wind, fuel issues, and the always-interesting Intracoastal Waterway, we arrived at a private dock on the Chester River, near historic Chestertown, MD. We could feel the excitement surround us even as we cruised through the Navy shipyards in Portsmouth and Norfolk, Virginia, then spending our final night in Deltaville, VA. Many recognized her, and many more realized how important she was, and still is today. Thank you, Capt. Roberto Smith, from everyone here in the Chesapeake.Without your diligence and hard work over the years, this piece of our heritage would have been lost. Instead, the 'Winnie Estelle' isnow the pride of the Chesapeake. She's in good hands....and will live on for many years to follow."
Capt. Mark Praschak
Coastbusters Yacht Delivery Services
A piece of the Chesapeake Bay history has returned home and she is a beautiful site.
From the descendants of Noah T. Evans, we also offer our thanks to Capt. Smith for his care and work at restoring the Winnie Estelle and to her new owner for returning this piece of history back to the Chesapeake Bay.
On Monday April 1st, The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) in Maryland, USA received its newest edition to its fleet of historic vessels. The Winnie Estelle, a Chesapeake Bay buyboat, made her homecoming to the town where she first started some 94 years ago.
In April 2012, The San Pedro Sun wrote an article about Winnie Estelle, a vessel built in 1920 in Crisfield, Maryland USA by Noah T. Evans. While Winnie Estelle served as a buyboat for over 50 years along the Maryland Bay where she freighted oysters and fish, she was later bought by Watson “Shug” Marshall and son Eugene Marshall in 1960, whereby she was used as a buy boat for the last time in the USA.
Winnie Estelle, 1968
In 1976 Winnie Estelle was sold and brought to the Caribbean where she was used to transport pine lumber from Honduras to Belize. Winnie Estelle eventually found her way to Ambergris Caye where she was used for cruises and even trips to the Blue Hole. After a long life, the vessel eventually succumbed to its years of service and was left to sink. Roberto Smith eventually pulled up the vessel and restored her with new life. The boat eventually departed the country and found its way back to the Bay she originated from years later in 2012 when she was purchased by Michael Whitefield.
On April 1st, the 65- foot vessel made its way to The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum , which will be her final home. According to a release from the official Facebook page of the museum “Winnie Estelle will be used by CBMM for drop-in public cruises, student ecology tours, a floating classroom, private charters, weddings, and more. Beginning in May, scenic Miles River cruises on the Winnie Estelle will be offered Fridays through Mondays. Four, thirty-minute cruises will be offered daily at $15 for non-members, $10 for CBMM members and $5 for children under six. Same-day tickets will be issued at the museum’s store or welcome center.”
The San Pedro Sun is happy to report that after years of service, Winnie Estelle has approached her final harbor.
Winnie Estelle, Final voyage
CBMM President and Michael Whitefield
The historic 1920 Chesapeake Bay buyboat “Winnie Estelle” arrives in St. Michaels to provide for scenic Miles River cruises and a wide variety of on-the-water educational programs. “Winnie” was used around Smith Island as a workboat for more than 40 years, carrying seafood and produce to market across the Chesapeake Bay. It recently worked as a platform for divers in Belize before being sold and returned to the Eastern Shore.
ST. MICHAELS — The historic 1920 Chesapeake Bay buyboat Winnie Estelle has arrived at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels where she will remain as the new workhorse of CBMM's floating fleet for scenic Miles River cruises and a wide variety of on-the-water educational programs.
The Winnie Estelle joins CBMM’s floating fleet of historic boats, which includes the recently restored 1955 skipjack Rosie Parks; the 1889 nine-log bugeye, the Edna E. Lockwood; the 1912 river tug Delaware; the 1909 seven-log crab dredger Old Point, the 1934 dovetail Martha; the 1931 Potomac River dory boat; and the 1961 tuck-stern, Jackson-built Pot Pie skiff. The authentic buyboat replaces the museum’s replica buyboat Mister Jim, which has operated as a passenger boat since 1982. The museum currently has the Mister Jim for sale.
“About a month ago, we began fundraising to acquire the Winnie Estelle,” said CBMM President Langley Shook. “We are so fortunate that a generous donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, stepped right up to purchase her for an undisclosed amount to donate her to the Museum.” CBMM will engage in fundraising to build an endowment to cover ongoing and long-term maintenance of the historic buyboat.
Over the next few weeks, the Winnie Estelle is expected to receive her U.S. Coast Guard designation as a charter vessel to carry up to 45 passengers. A volunteer corps of USCG-certified captains and their volunteer crew will operate the vessel, with the museum's boatyard handling Winnie’s upkeep and maintenance.
The Winnie Estelle will be used by CBMM for drop-in public cruises, student ecology tours, a floating classroom, private charters, weddings, and more. Beginning in May, scenic Miles River cruises on the Winnie Estelle will be offered Fridays through Mondays. Four, thirty-minute cruises will be offered daily at $15 for non-members, $10 for CBMM members and $5 for children under six. Same-day tickets will be issued at the museum’s store or welcome center.
“Imagine a special birthday party, a sail for your kids or grandchildren, or a sunset cocktail cruise before a wedding rehearsal dinner,” commented Shook. “This is a great opportunity to get out on the water for an authentic Chesapeake experience.”
The Winnie Estelle was built in Crisfield by Noah T. Evans in 1920. She's nearly 65' in length overall, with a 17-foot beam and a 3-1/2-foot draft, making her easily maneuverable in shallow water destinations. She displaces 42 tons of water and is powered by a Caterpillar diesel.
Winnie was used as a workboat on the lower Chesapeake for more than 50 years, carrying seafood and produce to market across the Chesapeake Bay. In the 1970s, she made Belize her port of call, where she operated as an island trader, carrying lumber from Honduras to Belize, and later as a charter boat for divers. In early 2012, Michael Whitehill of Centreville, MD, purchased the boat, returning her to the Chesapeake Bay on June 17, 2012 with a first stop in Deltaville, VA, where she was greeted by a cheering crowd of onlookers.
A Chesapeake Bay buyboat was historically used for buying and selling seafood. Buyboats purchased oysters or fish from watermen in remote parts of the Chesapeake and carried the fresh catch to city markets or seafood packing houses. According to Larry Chowning, author of the book Chesapeake Bay Buyboats, beginning in the early 20th century, motor buyboats were generally about 40 to 100 feet in length, with a mast and boom forward of the hold, a pilot house aft, and the hull decked over. Depending on their function, similar boats were called freight boats, run boats or crab dredgers, and also called deck boats or mast boats. With her bottom built in deadrise fashion like most other wooden workboats used by the watermen and historically used for buying crabs and fish, the Winnie Estelle is a typical example of the type — though she is rare for surviving in such an unaltered fashion.
"The Winnie Estelle is the finest restoration of a Chesapeake Bay buyboat that I have ever seen," commented Naval architect Melbourne Smith when he visited Belize and sailed aboard the Winnie Estelle. Melbourne Smith was the overseer of the construction of the sailing vessels Californian and Pride of Baltimore II. Melbourne came to Belize seeking the same Belize lumber utilized on the Winnie Estelle for these ships.
The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland is dedicated to preserving and exploring the history, environment, and people of the Chesapeake Bay. With 18 waterfront acres in the historic town of St. Michaels, the Museum offers changing exhibits, demonstrations, boat rides on the Miles River, and annual festivals that celebrate Chesapeake Bay culture, boats, seafood, and history. Learn more by visiting CBMM in St. Michaels or at www.cbmm.org.
From 10 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 19, children and adults are invited to join Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum educators aboard buyboat Winnie Estelle for an up-close and personal exploration of the Miles River and its unique habitat and ecology.
The cruise will be offered again from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Thursday, July 12, and from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 8.
During the ecology cruise, participants will learn how to monitor the water quality of the river, perform water testing and explore the critters on an oyster reef, all while cruising in the breeze on CBMM’s buyboat. Birders will enjoy the route, which features a route near Long Point Island, known for its eagle and osprey populations, and heron rookery.
Built in 1920 by Noah T. Evans — a native Smith Islander — Winnie Estelle was used as a workboat on the lower Chesapeake for more than 50 years, carrying seafood and produce to market across the Bay. In the 1970s, it made Belize its port of call, where it operated as an island trader, carrying lumber from Honduras to Belize and later as a charter boat for divers. Winne Estelle returned to the Chesapeake in 2012.
Winnie Estelle runs four daily cruises on Fridays through Mondays beginning each May and continuing through October, with same-day tickets purchased at CBMM. Cruises also are offered to watch Miles River log canoe races on June 23 and 24, July 28 and 29, and Sept. 8, 15 and 16. For details, visit cbmm.org.
Boarding passes for the CBMM’s ecology cruises are $16 for members and $20 for nonmembers, with registration required at cbmm.org/onthewater. For more information about Winnie Estelle or CBMM, visit cbmm.org.