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Tracking down vessel reveals tale of area’s maritime past

Last year, the Gazette-Journal ran photos of a deckboat and its builders in the hopes of pulling identifications from the depths of history. What surfaced was a tale of a local maritime family and their vessels that spans the eastern seaboard, a handful of vessels, and more than 70 years.

The photo was initially misidentified as the vessel Delvin K; however, archives of past issues of the Gazette-Journal revealed an article with the same photo dating to 1949 which correctly identified the vessel as the Evelyn K II. The building of these deckboats was commissioned by Willie E. King of Bena.

King was an oyster dredger and commercial fisherman who worked local and regional waterways for decades. In his business, fishermen needed a powerful vessel capable of withstanding the tests of the Chesapeake Bay but also one with a shallow enough draft to maneuver in smaller rivers. Enter the deckboat.

Deckboats, also called buy-boats, were once a common sight in local waterways, especially at a ...

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