Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Sad End of the York Spit

The York Spit, 2003

In December of 2009 I wrote about the plight of one of my favorite local working boats, the York Spit.

I’d learned that she’d been built in the 1930s to guard the owner’s family’s shellfish beds at the mouth of the York River against poachers. I should explain that some shellfish beds in the lower Chesapeake Bay are still owned and harvested by descendants of Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century English settlers who received royal grants to these shellfish beds from the King of England. They don’t take kindly to poachers. In its early days the York Spit had a machine gun mounted on her bow to discourage (or sink) poachers.

I won’t bore you with the whole back story. You can read it here.

When we last left her, the York Spit was up on blocks and covered by a tarp in the backyard of a photographer friend named Betty. One of her friends was trying to find grant money to restore York Spit.

Fast forward to 2011.

Two days ago another photographer friend, Cathy, called me. She’d come across my original blog post about York Spit and wanted to know about the boat’s current condition. It seems Cathy had once been married into the family that owned York Spit. She’d sailed on York Spit many times around local waters and across the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay to the Eastern Shore of Virginia, where she made this photograph of her at Cobb Island.

I referred her to Betty, whose sad note of response was as follows:

“The people at the dog park bordering my property complained about it and the city declared it solid waste and had to be removed. So it was taken to the Virginia Beach landfill last August.”

Thus ends the story of a great old working boat. Just another bunch of rotting timbers in a landfill.


  1. Oh, that IS sad--what a shame! Beautiful photos of it!

  2. Hello my name is Matthew Gruszeczka and I own the life ring from this vessel.