Best Boat Deals On The Eastern Seaboard – CBMM 15th Annual Boat Auction

Lad Mills is a very, very busy man these days. As the Boat Donations Program Manager at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM), he’s been readying the 83 (and counting) donated boats for Saturday’s 15th annual boat auction (Sept. 1, 2012). On Wednesday morning, Lad was seen flying around campus on his bicycle, taking phone calls and arranging for even more boats to be picked up in the next two days before the auction.

“It’s not too late to donate” he said, “last year, we even had donated boats arriving on the day of the event!” Most people don’t know it, but Lad sells boats all year-long to benefit the museum, saving some of them, as they arrive, for the annual boat auction, held on Saturday afternoon each Labor Day weekend.

Preparations and organization for the auction takes months, and it’s worth it. The event brings in well over $100,000 in revenue for the non-profit museum each year. And it’s not always the biggest boats that fetch the highest prices. Take the Old Town Canoe, for instance, sitting on the yard at Fogg’s Landing. “That’s the best looking Old Towne I’ve seen in my life”, said Mills, “and I’ve seen a lot of them”.

Museum staff and volunteers are enchanted with a beautiful old wooden rowing scull, and rumors are circulating about who plans to buy which boat on Saturday. It’s a fact that not everyone knows exactly how many boats they have (and another fact that spouses are often also in the dark). When I asked Mills how many boats he owns, he answered vaguely “well, the last time I counted…….”

Mills pointed toward a small Boston Whaler – “see that Boston Whaler? We were going to keep that to use as part of our museum fleet, but we took it out for a ride and it’s a rocket! That boat is so darn fast, we’re not keeping it” he said. Many St. Michaels harbor regulars will appreciate that, as boat traffic in and out of the town harbor can be busy, with weekenders and new boat owners not always following protocol.

CBMM volunteer Mary Sue Traynelis is spending her week combing through the details – she has the list of boats, and is climbing aboard each one, checking to see that listed inventory is accurate, and each item that is supposed to be on each boat is really in place. “People can come in on Saturday morning to look over the boats before the auction”, she said. “You can bring a boat surveyor if you wish, and you’ll have plenty of time to inspect the boats, and choose which ones you’ll bid on during the auction”.

Buyers come from all distances for this boat auction. Mills has sent boats as far as California, Georgia and New England. He received a call today from someone who is on their way to the event from Kansas. Few people only come once to this event, it’s the kind of thing you want to be part of year after year. In recent years, 25 foot sailboats have gone for as little as a couple hundred dollars. Every single boat will be sold on Saturday.

And you don’t have to be present to win. Absentee bids will be taken until 3:00 pm on Friday, August 31st. Call Helen Van Fleet Call Helen at the main CBMM number 410-745-2916 or directly at 410-745-4941 to make a bid.

From the tiny zodiacs and kayaks, to big sailboats and crusiers, there’s a boat (or two) for everyone at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s 15th annual boat auction, this Saturday at 1:00 sharp. Beer and BBQ will be served starting at noon.

To see the list of boats available for auction this year, click here.

If you’ve got a boat to donate, you can reach Lad Mills at 410-745-4942, or by email at

Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum
213 N. Talbot St.
St. Michaels, MD 21663

<this story previously published in The Talbot Spy>

~ by kbosin on August 31, 2012.

3 Responses to “Best Boat Deals On The Eastern Seaboard – CBMM 15th Annual Boat Auction”

  1. okay… so I want the wooden kayak and the penguin… can you be my proxie…

  2. This is so cool! Thanks for posting!

  3. Oh my gosh, how cool is that! I’m surprised I’ve never heard of this auction.

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