Chestertown to Crisfield on a Buyboat

August 10, 2012


Beau Whitehill Runs the Enormous Deck of Winnie Estelle


The voyage aboard Winnie Estelle from Chestertown to Crisfield last weekend for the Chesapeake Bay Buyboat Association confab was an experience to remember forever.  Fortified by a hearty dinner at Paul Hanley’s Blue Heron Cafe

Middle Watch

With Bride and Bairn Forward On Winnie Estelle, Author Robert Blake Whitehill Could Be Richer, But Never Happier

my own small family, bride Mary, three-year-old son, Beau, and I rose at 0200 hrs Friday morning at the Imperial Hotel in Chestertown and converged at the Centreville home of my brother Michael and his bride Patricia at 0400 hrs.  Fellow traveler and indispensable crewmate Jim Johnson, who helped Michael move Winnie Estelle from Belize back to the states joined us there.

We convoyed in two cars to the pier where Winnie Estelle lies and quickly loaded gear and provisions aboard.  Patricia and Michael had already stocked the buyboat with coolers filled with water and Diet Coke, loaves of bread, along with peanut butter, and jam, the day before.  They brought cold-cuts aboard this morning.  We brought delicious Clif Bars, cereals and boxed Horizon milk as well.

Unfortunately, a miscommunication meant that Mary’s mother, Joyce and her swain, Hobbs would not reach the boat in time to make the trip aboard.  Hastily crafting a Plan B, they decided to make a leisurely drive to Crisfield in Hobbs’s convertible Jag, with plenty of sightseeing stops in Easton and Oxford along the way.

We cast off at 0448 hours on a calm Chester River beautifully lit by a full moon.  It was majestic.  Mary helped Beau into his life vest, and then tethered him to a fore-and-aft jack-line Michael had thoughtfully rigged the day before.  Beau believed the whole contraption was pretty clever.  We all wore PFDs to encourage him in thinking the vest was grown-up gear.  Michael and Jim had the conn, and Patricia got the galley organized.  I stayed forward in the bows with an eye toward spotting crabpots that Michael and Jim might have trouble seeing with the wheel house so far aft.  We enjoyed wonderful views of Venus, Saturn, as well as Mars along the way until sunrise.

Though the day’s voyage was long, the weather was beautiful and the sea state very manageable.  Traveling around Kent Island we earned spectacular views beneath the twin spans of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.  I took the middle watch, and completely enjoyed myself.  Fourteen hours later, we arrived in Crisfield to the appreciative shouts of welcome of many other buyboat owners.  Ready hands helped make Winnie Estelle fast in her berth, just yards from where she was built and launched 92 years ago.  Joyce and Hobbs were already there among the welcoming committee.

I’ll tell you more about the full day of Buyboat Association activities, the visits from locals who had not seen the Winnie Estelle in four decades, and about our misadventures on the journey home, in later installments.  Just know that for now, we were all safe and happy.