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Maryland's National Register Properties



Photo credit: J. Straudquist, 08/1975
RELIANCE (skipjack)
Inventory No.: T-476
Date Listed: 7/30/1976
Location: Knapps Narrows , Tilghman, Talbot County
Category: Object
Period/Date of Construction: 1904
Description: The RELIANCE is a Chesapeake Bay skipjack built in 1904 at Fishing Creek, Maryland. She is a sloop-rigged sailing vessel presently used for dredging oysters in Maryland waters. She has a registered length of 41’ and an overall length of 6’. Her beam is 14’and her draft is 2.’. Her dredge gear includes four pairs of dredges, dredge cables, and front and starboard dredge rollers; one set of winders; one four-cylinder winder motor; and one yawl boat with an eight cylinder motor. She has one suit of canvas sails. All running rigging is manila and all deck hardware is iron. Her deck layout includes a small cabin aft with three crude berths and a large hatch forward. This vessel is constructed of native Eastern Shore pine and all repairs have been made in the original style. Significance: The significance of the skipjack RELIANCE is shared as well by her 29 sisters who make up the last fleet of working sailing vessels in North America. The "skipjack" is the final stage in a development that began with the Indian dugout and ended with the internal combustion engine. During the 1890s, rising costs and dwindling oyster harvests forced Chesapeake watermen to seek a replacement for the large and expensive "bugeye." The lines for this replacement were taken directly from the flat bottomed crab skiff. Because it had a flat bottom and hard chines, the resulting boat could be built cheaply. The economy of construction and the working characteristics of the skipjack made it hugely successful for the short period of time before the gasoline engine was generally accepted in the Bay.
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