Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Winnie Estelle to stop in San Pedro on her final voyage home


Many young islanders may not be familiar with the Winnie Estelle but many long-time residents can certainly share their memories of the vessel. 90 years after her launching, the vessel is making her final voyage, with a stop on Ambergris Caye, before heading back home to the Maritime Museum at Chesapeake Bay in Crisfield, Maryland, USA. The vessel, which was built in 1920, has a long history and passed from one hand to another, eventually making its way to Belize in the 70’s where it was used to transport pine lumber and eventually used for tours off the island.

The Winnie Estelle was one of the original Chesapeake Bay buy boat (buy boats are a type of cargo vessel used to buy catch-of-the-day/products and transport such loads to a mainland market) used to transport melons and sea products in the US. Buy boats are so uncommon now and only a couple of them exist, so much so that it is considered a historical piece that is referred to as an “endangered piece in the Americas.” Of the few buy boats left, the Winnie Estelle is the only known boat so far that has kept its original design and in perfect condition, keeping about 20 percent of the original material it was built out of 90 years ago. The boat was used for many years between the Guatemala and Honduras border to transport pine lumber to Belize. But it became an icon when it was brought to Ambergris Caye and used to conduct cruises and even tours to the Blue Hole. The boat was used until it became too dilapidated, and was left to sink off Belizean shores. Thanks to Roberto Smith, the boat was pulled up and it took a little over six years to salvage the boat that holds so many memories and history.

The Winnie Estelle, which was named after the two daughters of the original owner Noah T. Evans, is currently in Rio Dulce, Guatemala and will be in San Pedro on May 4th and 5th. The vessel will then depart to Crisfield Maryland, where it will be decommissioned and placed into the Martine Museum at Chesapeake Bay. Those who want to see the Winnie Estelle can look out for the vessel on the Eastern coastline as the 60 foot boat cruises around for the last time in Belizean waters. It will make a stop at the San Pedro municipal dock before leaving to the US.

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