309 Water Street, Yorktown, VA 23690 757-887-2641

The Carriage House is a waterfront facility on the grounds of the Museum perfect for corporate and family events, parties, and weddings. Featuring an indoor facility and outdoor patio overlooking the York River. Book Your Event Today!

About The Watermen’s Museum

Mission Statement

  • To preserve the heritage of the watermen of the Chesapeake Bay.

  • Interpret their culture and their contribution to the region.

  • To provide and support educational opportunities.

  • To preserve and enhance the environment of the Chesapeake Bay.

Watermens Museum


The Watermen's Museum is a private non-profit museum located on the York River in historic Yorktown, VA. It was founded in 1981 as a part of the 200th anniversary celebration of the Battle of Yorktown. In October of 1781, American and French forces were fighting the British in the final battle of the Revolutionary War. Local watermen aided the French fleet, acting as pilots for their ships as they traveled our waterways. Much to the humiliation of the British, the French and American forces trapped the British army, at least in part because of the upper hand given to the French fleet aided by those knowledgeable pilots, keeping the British navy at bay

The importance of watermen in our local economy neither began nor ended in the eighteenth century. The term 'waterman' is an ancient one, and is only used on the Thames River in England and on the Chesapeake Bay, and refers to those who make their living on the water. Nowadays, it is used in reference to those involved in the harvesting fish and shellfish, people whom other areas of the country would call commercial fishermen. Traditionally, however, the term was also used for buy-boat workers, ferrymen, boat and ship pilots, and any others whose occupations took them on the water year round

The original Museum was located in a small brick building (which was used as a Gift Shop until Hurricane Isabel) on a piece of riverfront property donated by Mrs. Bowditch. In 1986, Mr. and Mrs. Kubicki (Bob and Jan) donated the existing museum building and several smaller out buildings which were located on the opposite shore of the York River, on condition that Mrs. Bowditch would raise the funds necessary to move them across the River to their present location. Marian and her friends raised the funds and the buildings were moved in 1987. After much work and renovation, the existing Museum, with about 2,200 sq. ft. of exhibit space, was opened in 1989 and the original building was converted into a Gift Shop which became one of the best of its kind in the entire area.

Our President -- Steven R. Ormsby

Steve was the founder, former owner and CEO, of Alpha-Omega Change Engineering (AOCE), a services contractor supporting government agencies, including Department of Defense activities.   He is an independent consultant in organizational development and improvement; a proven education/training developer, instructor, and manager; and a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.  He is an experienced U.S. Air Force aircraft maintenance and organizational management leader, retiring at the rank of Chief Master Sergeant (E9).  Steve also serves on the Board of Directors for "Bridges to Prosperity," a non-governmental global charity providing footbridge construction training and installation to impoverished villages around the world.  He is actively involved in music, information technology, community outreach, and financial management for Abingdon Episcopal Church in Gloucester VA.  He actively supports Watermen's Museum activities as the Board President, strategic planner, daily operations leader, grant writer and volunteer.

Our Vice President -- Carol D. Tryer

Carol D. Tyrer is the founder and owner of Circa~ Cultural Resource Management, LLC (Circa~).   Circa~ is a certified small, 100% woman-owned business with expertise in archaeology, architectural history, historical research, education and exhibits, historic preservation planning, and historic preservation law.  Since 2005, the firm has conducted over 620 Phase I archaeological identification surveys, over 1,200 Phase I architectural surveys, over 288 Phase II archaeological evaluations, over 28 Phase II architectural evaluations, and 25 Phase III data recoveries.  Carol actively supports Museum activities as the Board’s Vice President, strategic planner, archeology and historical site expert, grant writer, and volunteer.

Comments from Our President

"The Chesapeake Bay plays a vital role in our lives and culture. For more than 30 years, the Watermen’s Museum has shared the stories of the men and women who have worked the water: protecting the waterways and villages, piloting ships, ferrying goods and people, and fishing for our delicious seafood.

Our Museum is an exciting, vibrant community where staff, members, volunteers, and guests come together to develop, provide, and enjoy museum programs and to just have fun along the shores of the historic York River. Please join us and become a part of America's coastal heritage. "  

A Summary of Activities

It’s a great time to be a member of the Watermen’s Museum. The Museum has continued to expand programs and exhibits over the past few years.

In addition to our popular TGIF member events, and events such as Wine on the Water, we’ve created new family programs, such as: Pirate Camp, Archeology Camp, New Explorers Camp, Boatbuilding Camp, more school programs for K-12 students, and programs for students with special educational needs.

Our boat shop is a beehive of activity, with many historic boats built and refurbished, including boats used in movie presentations.  We are also building a full-size, square-rigged, 1775 replica gunboat on our beach.

Our land-based sail training boat (often called the Dry Ship) serves as a focal point for school field trips, camps, special events, and evening education and entertainments programs, and increased opportunities to learn about lives along the Chesapeake Bay.

Come on down and join us!"

Supporting the Watermens Museum

The Watermen’s Museum is a small, efficient organization. Through volunteer support, leveraging resources, and combining fee-based programs with free programming the Museum is able to reach large numbers of visitors with a small budget. Yet, despite our frugality, we still need funds to help maintain this waterfront treasure.

Please consider a cash donation to support scholarships, the boat-building program, special needs educational programming, environmental programming, landscaping, and other important needs.

Contact Steve Ormsby, at 887-2641, to discuss our programs and how you may best support them.