Maritime Museum Grows in Importance in 16th Year

by Jeff Garrett


BEACH HAVEN –  On the southern tip of Long Beach Island sits a museum housing 

a huge collection of shipwreck files and artifacts almost unlike anywhere around. 

On July 3rd, the New Jersey Museum of Maritime Museum will celebrate its 

sixteenth year showcasing rare stories only few may have known about at sea.

The collection, largely cultivated from New Jersey maritime historians, comes 

from pieces of shipwrecks and disasters pertaining to the state’s maritime history. 

The idea for a museum came almost 25 years prior to its opening.  Bob Yates and 

Deb Whitcraft, who serves as President of the Museum,  possessed 

strong desires to learn about wrecks off New Jersey’s shores. Whitcraft was a 

collector. As her collection grew, she wondered if there might actually be a good 

place to put all of this stuff for others to learn about.  

In 2007, dream became reality for the collector and the New Jersey Maritime 

Museum was born.

There’s a rich history of shipwrecks and disasters inside. From a shipwreck 

database and map to a rare book library and lending library for readers wanting to 

know more. An Atlantic City exhibit, Women’s Surf Fishing Club exhibit and a  

collection of New Jersey storm photos are all inside.  You can even get married at 

the museum.

Presentations by those related to the maritime world are frequent, on a monthly 

basis, often taking place at Buckalew’s Restaurant & Tavern in Beach Haven.  

Recent speakers in 2023 have included Gene Peterson a member of the National 

Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI), and founder of Atlantic Divers. His 

series was presented in two parts – the first concerning those of divers pursuing 

dreams of finding lost treasure amidst the rubble of sunken ships along the New 

Jersey coast.  The second part was discussing those discoveries themselves and 

the friendships created as divers discovered china, clay pipers and other out-of-

the-ordinary things sea-goers and many others found interesting.

In Summer, the Maritime Museum sees a big thrust of people, perhaps enjoying 

bigger visitation than in any other season of the year mainly since visitors flock to 

the Jersey shore to vacation. 

The Museum is ready to educate students too offering a Marine Science Camp 

presented by New Logic Marine Biologists and Environmentalists. There are 

several kindergarten through eighth grade classes beginning June 26 and two Teen 

camps the weeks of July 24 and Aug.7  from 9am to 2pm each weekday.  

Kids programs exist on Fridays from June 23 to Aug. 25 from 1030am to Noon 

offering educational activities for kids age 3 to 13. 

So how does the state’s premier maritime museum exist on donations alone ? 

While fundraisers are held each Spring and Fall, the museum is a registered 501 

( C)(3) non-profit and has a membership program for the community with annual 

and lifetime options. 

The community appears to have adopted the Maritime Museum with open arms 

While the museum simultaneously has upped its offerings between its walls at 

528 Dock Rd in Beach Haven to meet the curiosities of all curious to learn more 

about New Jersey’s maritime history.

To learn more about the New jersey Maritime Museum, call 609-492-0202 or 

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