The Back Creek Conservancy, in partnership with the Ocean Research Project, is launching the Schooner Mattie F. Dean Expedition to locate and if possible to identify wooden sailing vessels abandoned in Back Creek, Annapolis, at the end of the sailing era, between 1933, when the Hurricane blew open the mouth of Back Creek, to the early 1970s, when the boat shows began. The number, location, and the extent of the remains of these vessels is unknown.

The most famous vessel known to have been abandoned in Back Creek was the schooner Mattie F. Dean, built in Dorchester County in 1887 and abandoned at the age of 70, in 1954. The Mattie F. Dean was renowned as being the most beautiful and the fastest of the working schooners. An oyster schooner, the Ella F. Cripps, was also reported abandoned in Back Creek.

matiedean2The Ocean Research Project team will be led by Matt Rutherford and Nicole Trenholm, fresh back from their cutting-edge climate change research in Greenland. They will deploy their side-scanning sonar and a magnetometer to locate the shipwrecks as well as whatever else is on the bottom of the creek. The Back Creek Conservancy team will be led by Alex Dulude, 2007 Naval Academy graduate and scuba diver. Dr. Sally Langdon, Maryland State Underwater Archeologist, will supervise the inspection and identification of the wrecks.

If wrecks are located and confirmed, the Expedition will create an online memorial for each boat, incorporating genealogy, underwater photos, and images of artifacts saved and recovered.

The Chesapeake Outdoor Group has designated the Back Creek Conservancy as the beneficiary of the 2016 Eastport Oktoberfest and Beer Can Regatta September 24 at the Eastport Democratic Club. The Conservancy has designated all of the funds from this event as seed money for the Schooner Mattie F. Dean Expedition.

The Back Creek Conservancy seeks sponsors at the $300 level. Email for more information or download a registration form here.