Welcome to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum's Boatyard Blog, where all things related to Chesapeake Bay Boats are discussed. Follow the Museum's progress on historic Chesapeake boat restoration projects, watch wooden boats being built from scratch in our Apprentice For a Day program, and meet the dedicated staff and volunteers working hard to give you the experience of Chesapeake Bay history while preserving traditional Chesapeake Bay boat building techniques. Make sure to join us as a follower of this blog so you will be notified of new posts, and make comments on anything you see on the blog.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Meet the Museum's Floating Fleet : Delaware Tug

The Delaware Tug was built in 1912 in Bethel, Delaware by William H. Smith. It is a product of Bethel's great age of wooden ship and boatbuilding at the beginning of the 19th century and, apart from the 1900 ram schooner Victory Chimes (formerly Edwin and Maud), may be the only survivor.

William H. Smith, a foreman at the Bethel Shipyard, built the small tug in a shed on the grounds of a cannery adjoining the shipyard. After her hull was completed, she was moved to the marine railway to have her gasoline engine installed and was then relaunched. Delaware hauled scows on Broad Creek, often laden with lumber, and towed ram schooners to and from Laurel. Occasionally she carried parties of young people to Sandy Hill on the Nanticoke River for the day. A partition behind the engine creates a small cabin with two benches and a stove. Two berths for the crew were located below the pilothouse.

Originally a brass engine telegraph system connected the pilothouse with the engine room. An early photograph of the tug shows she was painted white overall. In 1929, the tug was bought by James Ireland of Easton, Maryland, who was in partnership with John H. Bailey in a marine construction business. Later Bailey acquired sole interest in the tug and she became a common sight around the Upper Easter Shore, engaged in building bulkheads and docks until she was laid up in the late 1980s.

Delaware went through a number of engines in her life and presently has a Gray Marine 671 diesel. New frames and bottom planking have also been installed throughout her years at the Museum. Her cabin, however, retains the original tongue and groove siding and sash windows.

Delaware is a rare example of a typical early 20th century wooden river tug.


  1. Are there boats like Deleware available for sale in need of restoration?