Location: Between Second & Third Streets at Spa Creek
See the site of one of the most historic boatyards on the East Coast. For more than 60 years, three different boat builders used these buildings and docks to produce navy boats for World War I, World War II, and the Korean and Viet Nam wars, along with some of the most exquisite motor yachts ever to grace the waves.
The As you walk among these buildings, imagine wooden boats taking form. Picture men sweating in the hot sun as they plank a hull, caulk a seam or varnish a rail Envision Navy officers in khaki uniforms boarding vessels for sea trials. From 1913 to 1974, this site was alive with the sights and sounds of wooden boat building. Then, fiberglas construction took over and an important era come to an end.
Three proud yacht yards thrived on this property you see from Site 4 during the era of boat building on Spa Creek. Many Eastport men worked in all three boatyards and held fond memories of their apprenticeships at Chance’s boatyard, and their years at Annapolis Yacht Yard where they matured as shipwrights and fine yacht carpenters. It was at Trumpy’s boatyard in their later years that they shared their skills and artistic talents with younger men — carrying on a long tradition in boat building.
The first boatyard on this site, Chance Marine Construction Company, opened in 1913. They built 110-foot wooden sub chasers for the U. S. Navy during World War I and built 30-foot luxury motor yachts of their own design.
Chance Marine Construction Co. (1913-1937) traditionally built luxury motor yachts.
During World War I, the yard built four of these 100-foot subchasers for the U.S. Navy.
Under the guidance of Charlie and Walter Chance, master boat builders of Eastport served their apprenticeships here after World War I building Chance luxury motor yachts. The Chance brothers also repaired and maintained many of the bugeyes and skipjacks in this area used by waterman harvesting oysters from the Chesapeake Bay.
Erik Almen and Chris Nelson bought the Chance yard in 1937 and changed the name to the Annapolis Yacht Yard. The next year, the first of 30 wooden motor yachts called Annapolis cruisers were launched down the marine railway.
When World War II broke out, the great wooden boat builders of Eastport all assembled at this yard. During the war years, 500 men worked at this site - the largest single private employer in Annapolis. The company built ten 110-foot wooden subchasers for the U.S. Navy, 28 70-foot Vosper PT boats for the British Royal Navy, and 100 70-foot Vosper PT boats for the Russian Navy. When Chris Nelson died in 1947, Erik Almen sold the boat yard and the property.
There’s a great story about the boats built here, as told by former county executive Joe Alton.
Joe graduated from high school in the early days of World War II. Joe and his high school buddy, Robby Parkinson, wanted to do their part, but it was before the U.S. had entered the fray. So they went to Canada to try to join the Canadian Air Force. Both wanted to fly. Robby was accepted, but since Joe was color blind, he was rejected.
Joe came back home and went to work here at the Annapolis Yacht Yard. When the United States went to war in 1941, he remained here, building subchasers to be shipped to our allies in England and Russia.
Robby came home in 1941 and joined the American Air Force. He was sent to England, where he flew bombing runs over France. On one run, Robby's plane was shot down and he crash-landed in the English Channel. A boat put out from the English shore and dragged him and his crew aboard. As Robby lay “half drowned” under the foredeck, he looked up and saw signatures of some of his Eastport hometown buddies scrawled on a wooden beam – including the signature of his friend, Joe Alton.
As you walk into the property from Severn Avenue, notice the big warehouse-type building on the left. Six of the PT boats were built there at one time. Finishing work was done in what’s now the Chart House restaurant. The next property owner, Trumpy, added the building to the right as you face the water.
John Trumpy, with his two sons, Donald and John Jr., moved their company from the shores of the Delaware River in Camden, New Jersey, to this four acre site in 1947. Trumpy built two boats that made headlines wherever they went, and are still afloat today: the Presidential Yacht Sequoia, built in 1925, served every president from Herbert Hoover to Jimmy Carter. The Enticer, built in 1935, was featured in the 1959 film, Some Like it Hot. Do you remember the scene where Marilyn Monroe was trying to get a rise out of the bespectacled Tony Curtis? That famous scene was filmed aboard The Enticer.
Above, right, is a photo of a classic Trumpy yacht. John Trumpy & Sons, Inc. (1947-1974), crafted yachts that are still prized for their quality and beauty. If you spy a grand motor yacht with the golden "T" on the bow, you'll know you're seeing a Trumpy.
Here on Site 4, they built 131 more of these yachts, considered by many to be the most exquisite sail and motor yachts in the world.
Many of the master craftsmen who worked at Annapolis Yacht Yard stayed on after the Trumpy family purchased the property. For the next quarter of a century, the older men taught the younger ones the fine art of building exemplary wooden yachts. The Trumpy yachts, built on this site, display a delicate gold leaf scroll on their bows, a symbol unique to Eastport.
Continuing with U.S. Navy contracts, Trumpy built minesweepers during the Korean War and the Nasty-Class fast gunboat for service in Southeast Asia.
In 1963, a fire, believed to have started in the lumber shed destroyed some of the original buildings dating back to the Chance Marine Construction Co.
With the emergence of fiberglass boats in the late 1960s, and an ever-growing shortage of skilled craftsmen, the Trumpy family sold the boat yard in 1974. The great epoch of wooden boat building in Eastport came to an end.