Historic Boat Restoration

To say that the Mid Shore has seen a flurry of historic boat restorations recently would be an understatement. Then again, when isn’t a wooden boat in a state of restoration of some sort?

While the world continues to grapple with the effects of a pandemic, the needs of wooden boats don’t disappear. The ravages of time, weather and water continue the relentless march on historic bugeyes, skipjacks and log canoes, all vestiges of another era. Luckily a hearty cadre of organizations, captains, crew and volunteers have been taking up the charge to save a precious few more of these treasured vessels.

These historic boats are exceptional artifacts of our sailing tradition unique to the Chesapeake Bay. Restoration is imperative to preserve these unique relics of our maritime heritage.

Due to the vast deterioration of existing skipjacks in 1991, including the Flora Price, the Dorchester Skipjack Committee decided to build one (Nathan of Dorchester) instead of refurbishing one.

In some cases, restorations were a matter of saving a vessel from the salvage heap, as in the case of the Skipjack Martha Lewis and Log Canoe Flying Cloud. In other cases, such as the Skipjack Nathan of Dorchester, boats needed careful maintenance to staunch the flow of regular deterioration.

In every case, rigorous fundraising is imperative and has proven to be extra challenging during quarantine in the past year. In the following pages we have provided a small sense of what has been taking place around the Bay surrounding historic boat restoration. A wooden boat has her own agenda and we simply try to keep up with her fickle wants and needs.

This skipjack, Oriole, was built by Sylvester Muir in 1905. As chronicled by Randolph George in Memoir of a Skipack, she is pictured here in 1993 at Knapps Narrows on Tilghman Island where she was abandoned. Thought to be too expensive to repair, the skipjacks were left to rot in the salt waters of the Bay.

Skipjack Race Schedule 2021

Deal Island Labor Day Skipjack Race: September 6, 2021

Choptank Heritage Skipjack Race: September 25, 2021

Log Canoe Racing Schedule 2021

June 26-27: MRYC Centennial Cup / 4th series

July 10-11: CRYCC/CRYC Series

July 17-18: RHYC Series

July 31-August 1: MRYC Governor’s Cup Series

July 31: Boardman’s Challenge – MRYC

August 14-15: TAYC/CBYC Oxford Regatta

August 21-22: CYC Hicks Trophy Series

August 28-29: TAYC Heritage Regatta

September 11-12: MRYC Labor Day Series

September 18: MRYC Higgins/Commodore Cups

September 19: CBMM Bartlett Cup

Skipjack Tours

St. Michaels

H.M. Krentz

Captain Ed Farley


Reedville, Virginia

Claudia W. Somers

Reedville Fisherman’s Museum


Deal Island


Deal Island Skipjack Sailing Tours


Tilghman Island

Rebecca T. Ruark

Captain Wade Murphy



Nathan of Dorchester



Wilma Lee

Annapolis Maritime Museum and Park

Did You Know?

  • In restoring a skipjack, parts from other skipjacks are used. In constructing the Nathan of Dorchester, the wheel and gearbox was used from Wilma Lee (1940), rollers and davits came from the Susan May (1901), and rigging and wooden blocks are compliments of the Nellie L. Byrd (1911).
  • While dredging season runs from November through March, it is unusual today to see a skipjack under sail while dredging for oysters. Skipjacks are powered by push boats or yawl boats instead of wind. These outboard engines are outfitted in a small boat that power the skipjack from behind.
  • The average skipjack cost $3,000 to build in 1905. Today it is not unheard of for renovations to run $100,000.
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Allison Rogers



Attraction Magazine

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Easton, MD 21601

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