The 1924 built Fannie has found a new home at the Reedville Fisherman's Museum in Reedville, Va. The slim lines and draketail stern are reflective of a ladies' slipper on the water. Photo: Larry Chowning

Christmas Comes Early: Reedville Fisherman’s Museum Gifted Historic Draketail

Reedville Fishermen’s Museum (RFM) has a special new resident at its dock. The museum was recently gifted a 99-year-old Chesapeake deadrise draketail boat with a unique dolphin nose stern by Bill and Beverly Pickens of Ware Neck, Va. Guests will have a chance to take tours on her beginning next year.

Fannie is 36’ x 6’ x 2’6” and was built in 1924 by Charles Spencer. He built two boats of this style in his yard at Brick Inn on Main Street in St. Michaels, Md. One of the boats was named Fannie, after his daughter.

The draketail stern, sometimes called a Hooper’s Island draketail because so many of this design was built in that area, was modeled after early motor-powered racing launches and torpedo boats. The craft was built for speed, being long and narrow with a lightweight hull of shallow draft. The style was used both for pleasure and commercial fishing endeavors.

“The RFM is honored and overjoyed to receive her as a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Pickens,” said RFM’s executive director, Shauna McCranie. “She will be a beautiful addition to the dock at the museum for all to enjoy for many years to come,” McCraine said.

Fannie meets her new caretakers. From left, Brooklyn Ranson-Williams, who will maintain the boat; Bill Pickens, former owner, Shauna McCraine, museum director and Patt Darr, who will captain the boat. Photo courtesy of Reedville Fishermen’s Museum.

Fannie will be used by the museum as a tour craft that holds 6 passengers and 2 crew for museum members and guests, as well as being a living example at the dock of a unique and beautiful Chesapeake Bay watercraft, said McCraine.

“She will be captained on Cockrell’s Creek by Pat Darr and maintained by Brooklyn Ranson-Williams,” she said. “Reedville will be celebrating 150 years as a town next summer of 2024 and Fannie will be celebrated as turning a century old as well,” said McCranie.

 The draketail has changed hands a number of times, like so many historic boats. Boatbuilder Spencer sold Fannie to the Charles Kilmon family who commercially worked her during World War II from Oak Creek near Newcomb, Maryland. The Kilmon family sold Fannie to Thomas Melville, who kept her on Balls Creek near Neavitt, Maryland, with plans to restore her. That restoration work was not carried out during his ownership.

When Melville moved to Ohio he sold Fannie to Douglas Edwards, who restored her at his Lankford Bay Marina in Rock Hall during the winter of 1979-80. He renamed Fannie after his daughter, Christina Lynn.

Edwards sold Christina Lynn to James Roddey in 1992, a customer of his at the marina. Roddey, of Pittsburgh, had Edwards replace Christina Lynn’s 1920 Palmer Engine with a new 63B Westerbeke Diesel. He added a cuddy cabin with leaded glass windows, and bright work. He kept the boat at Lankford Bay Marina and renamed her Old Coot.

The Pickens purchased Old Coot at Lankford Bay Marina in 2006 and returned her registration to Fannie. “They have maintained and enjoyed her since that time at her home port in Ware Neck on the North River of Mobjack Bay,” said McCraine.

Now, the public will be able to enjoy this graceful piece of history, too.