M/V MILDRED BELLE (c. 1948), is an authentic Chesapeake Bay buyboat, a local type of vessel that was used to haul cargo, dredge crabs, and drag nets. These vessels were known as “buyboats” because they would purchase fish, oysters and crabs directly from working sailing vessels, such as skipjacks and schooners, thus allowing those vessels to continue fishing. These “middlemen” of the Bay would then transport the catch to market under power.
MILDRED BELLE was built in Odd, Virginia and was used for buying and transporting oysters from the lower James River, crab dredging during the winter and long-lining/sport fishing in the Atlantic Ocean. She was acquired by Living Classrooms Foundation in 1988. Since that time, she has sailed seasonally with almost 100,000 students, introducing them to the history and natural wonder of the Chesapeake Bay. She runs day trips and overnight camping trips with students grades 4-12. Her season is from April through November. Shed is based in Baltimore but each season usually features a longer stay in Washington DC during the fall.