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Virginia designated the classic Chesapeake Bay deadrise workboat as the official state boat in 1988. During the first half of the 20th Century, a fleet of these boats worked the Chesapeake for oysters.
Simple but elegant, the deadrise was built specifically to work the shallow, choppy waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers. Many watermen built their own boats, with unique variations on the basic design (differences in craftsmanship, materials, and detail).
The Chesapeake Bay deadrise or deadrise workboat is a type of traditional fishing boat used in the Chesapeake Bay. Watermen use these boats year
round for everything from crabbing and oystering to catching fish or eels.
Traditionally wooden hulled, the deadrise is characterised by a sharp bow that quickly becomes a flat V shape moving aft along the bottom of the hull. A small cabin structure lies forward and a large open cockpit and work area aft.
Virginia shares Chesapeake Bay with Maryland. Like Maryland, it also has an official state boat- the Chesapeake Bay Deadrise.) The Chesapeake Bay deadrise is a wooden boat with a sharp bow, a tiny cabin, and a long cockpit. It can operate nearly everywhere on the bay for crabbing, oystering, and fishing. Delegate George Grayson and other tidewater legislators conferred to come up with a boat that could readily be identified with Virginia. Watermen and Bay scholars at the Mariners' Museum in Newport News and the Waterman's Museum in Yorktown agreed: the Deadrise. Grayson's bill was signed into law on March 25, 1988.
The deadrise design was developed around the 1880s. "Deadrise" refers to the V-shaped bottom at the bow and the angle formed from the keel as it levels off to a horizontal line with the rise from the keel upward to the chine (or sideboards). The sum of the dihedral angles always equals 180 degrees. A V-bottom is easier to build than a round bottom. It also has a shallow draft of two to three feet, making it ideal for the shallows of the Bay. The average deadrise workboat is 35 to 45 feet long with a beam of nine to twelve feet. The deadrise can use almost any engine, from an Olds 455 to a John Deere 6-cylinder, but diesel engines are preferred over regular gasoline because of their reliability.
The deadrise workboat is used by most watermen on the Chesapeake Bay. The deadrise accommodates the heavy, bulky equipment used for a variety of
tasks. A culling board, and tongs or dredge are used in oystering in the winter months. Crab pots, bushel baskets, and trash cans are used during the
summer crabbing season. Nets, stakes, and net tubes are used in setting gill nets year-round. The deadrise's size and capacity allow the waterman to
travel farther across the Bay and carry more seafood back to market.
The deadrise has also become popular with pleasure boaters. These heavy-duty boats withstand long days of fishing and can carry large groups. The romance of the watermen's profession and nostalgia for the traditions of the Chesapeake Bay have created a market for these workhorses of the water.
Fleets of deadrises were a common sight in the late 1800s along the Chesapeake Bay. Sometimes more than three-hundred boats would be moored together at one landing. These fleets would leave early in the morning for oyster beds or crab pots and return late in the evening.
The law designating the "Chesapeake Bay Deadrise" as the official Virginia state boatis found in the Code of Virginia, Title 1, Chapter 5, Section 1-510. Virginia symbols were re-organized under one section of the Code of Virginia in 2005.
Title 1 - GENERAL PROVISIONS.
Chapter 5 - Emblems
§ 1-510. Official emblems and designations.
The following are hereby designated official emblems and designations of the Commonwealth:
Artisan Center - "Virginia Artisans Center," located in the City of Waynesboro.
Bat - Virginia Big-eared bat (Corynorhinos townsendii virginianus).
Beverage - Milk.
Blue Ridge Folklore State Center - Blue Ridge Institute located in the village of Ferrum.
Boat - "Chesapeake Bay Deadrise."
Covered Bridge Capital of the Commonwealth - Patrick County.
Covered Bridge Festival - Virginia Covered Bridge Festival held in Patrick County.
Dog - American Foxhound.
Emergency medical services museum - "To The Rescue," located in the City of Roanoke.
Fish - Brook Trout.
Fleet - Replicas of the three ships, Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery, which comprised the Commonwealth's founding fleet that brought the first permanent English settlers to Jamestown in 1607, and which are exhibited at the Jamestown Settlement in Williamsburg.
Flower - American Dogwood ( Cornus florida).
Folk dance - Square dancing, the American folk dance that traces its ancestry to the English Country Dance and the French Ballroom Dance, and is called, cued, or prompted to the dancers, and includes squares, rounds, clogging, contra, line, the Virginia Reel, and heritage dances.
Fossil - Chesapecten jeffersonius.
Gold mining interpretive center - Monroe Park, located in the County of Fauquier.
Insect - Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio glaucus Linne).
Motor sports museum - "Wood Brothers Racing Museum and Virginia Motor Sports Hall of Fame," located in Patrick County.
Outdoor drama - "The Trail of the Lonesome Pine Outdoor Drama," adapted for the stage by Clara Lou Kelly and performed in the Town of Big Stone Gap.
Outdoor drama, historical - "The Long Way Home" based on the life of Mary Draper Ingles, adapted for the stage by Earl Hobson Smith, and performed in the City of Radford.
Shell - Oyster shell (Crassostrea virginica).
Song emeritus - "Carry Me Back to Old Virginia," by James A. Bland, as set out in the House Joint Resolution 10, adopted by the General Assembly of Virginia at the Session of 1940.
Sports hall of fame - "Virginia Sports Hall of Fame," located in the City of Portsmouth.
War memorial museum - "Virginia War Museum," (formerly known as the War Memorial Museum of Virginia), located in the City of Newport News.
(Code 1950, § 7-35, 7-36, 7-37; 1966, cc. 102, 547, § 7.1-37, 7.1-38, 7.1-39; 1974, c. 24, § 7.1-40; 1982, c. 191, § 7.1-40.1; 1986, c. 138, § 7.1-40.2; 1988, c. 317, § 7.1-40.3; 1991, cc. 71, 575, § 7.1-40.4, 7.1-40.5; 1993, cc. 251, 509, § 7.1-40.6; 1994, cc. 33, 134, 220, 464, § 7.1-40.2:1, 7.1-40.8; 1995, cc. 12, 180, § 7.1-40.2:2; 1996, c. 52, § 7.1-40.9; 1997, cc. 66, 576, § 7.1-40.10; 1999, cc. 69, 336, § 7.1-40.11; 2001, cc. 97, 134, § 7.1-40.12; 2001, c. 228, § 7.1-40.13; 2005, cc. 557, 839; 2006, c. 128; 2007, cc. 391, 685; 2008, c. 262.)