In recognition of her upcoming centennial, the tug Delaware is now being restored to her 1912 appearance in full public view at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland. Delaware is a rare example of a typical early 20th century wooden river tug.
Built in 1912 in Bethel, Delaware by William H. Smith, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s tug Delaware measures 39’8” x 11’4” and is now a floating exhibit at the museum’s waterfront campus.
Delaware is a product of Bethel’s great age of wooden ship and boatbuilding and apart from the 1900 ram schooner Victory Chimes (formerly Edwin and Maud), may be the only survivor. 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, when she became a common sight around the Upper Eastern Shore, engaged in building bulkheads and docks until she was laid up in the late 1980s.
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 for day trips on the Nanticoke River.
Coming up on her centennial birthday, Delaware is getting some much needed attention at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. The museum’s shipwrights are replacing six bottom planks on the port side, all the way forward. That will also allow the shipwrights and apprentices to replace structural floors and frame ends, as well as repair the keel. The planking will all be yellow pine. They are also replacing the lower guards on the hull in the original configuration. The guards are 2- 1/2″ square and 25′ long, and have been steam-bent to the shape of the hull.
Work will also include pulling up some of the side deck and replacing a broken fore- and aft-deck carlin that runs the entire length of the cabin house. And finally, any broken or rotten tongue-and-groove beaded, vertical cabin-siding will be replaced. The custom siding has to be milled on-site. Restoration work will be done over the fall and winter months, in full public view in the museum’s harbor side boat yard.
The museum’s waterfront campus in St. Michaels includes new art and decoy exhibits, the historic restoration of the skipjack Rosie Parks, a floating fleet of historic vessels, a museum store, and many hands-on exhibits sharing the stories of how people live, work, and play along the entire Chesapeake Bay. The museum is open 9am to 5pm seven days a week, with picnickers and dogs welcome. For more information, visit the museum, online at www.cbmm.org, or call 410-745-2916.