Registry seeks to add more historic vessels

Published 11:48 am Saturday, February 3, 2018

Wanted: historically significant boats that have North Carolina connections.

The North Carolina Maritime History Council wants to add such boats to its North Carolina Historic Vessel Registry. The council believes the registry is an important way of encouraging preservation of North Carolina’s maritime treasures. The majority of vessels eligible for the registry are either built in North Carolina and/or built by a North Carolina builder, but there are exceptions.

“We started in 1994 because we had some vessels that we thought needed recognition, like the Elizabeth II. Some people brought the idea to us,” said Barbara Snowden, a council member and who resigned Friday as secretary of the council’s board of directors. “So, we developed the (nomination) form. It’s a very simple, one-sheet form. It can be any vessel that has a connection to North Carolina or a person who is from North Carolina.”

Snowden noted that not every boat nominated for the registry would be approved. “It has to be distinguished. You’re talking about something that either represents a class or represents a unique boat or something that makes it special,” Snowden said. “I don’t know how many we have on the registry right now. I think we have about 15.”

Before a nominated vessel is added to the registry, it goes through a screening process. The person nominated a vessel is required to provide documentation of the vessel’s significance and connection to North Carolina.

“When the person fills out the form, they submit it to the North Carolina Maritime Museum. Paul (Fontenoy) looks at it. Then they make the decision. The board votes either a yes or no as to the boats,” Snowden said. “The person who gets on the registry gets a certificate signed by the council and presented them that says this boat is special. It can help if you’re trying to raise funds to restore a boat. That designation may help.”

(Fontenoy is curator of maritime research for the North Carolina Maritime Museums.)

During its meeting Friday at the North Carolina Estuarium, the council reviewed a request to add a boat built by Wilton Ferebee Walker Sr. of Currituck, known as a superb boat builder, decoy carver and guide. Walker was honored during the 2017 Currituck Wildlife Festival. The council is considering one of three boats built by Walker for inclusion on the registry.

“From moving mail, families, and merchandise along North Carolina’s rivers, creeks, and coast, maritime vessels of all types have played a large part in North Carolina’s history. These vessels have helped contribute to and build North Carolina’s communities, economy, and culture. Once taken for granted these vessels have started to disappear from the world as they have rotted away and been forgotten,” reads registry page on the council’s website —

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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