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Maryland's National Register Properties



Photo credit: M.C. Wootton, 05/1984
S.C. DOBSON (log canoe)
Inventory No.: T-511
Date Listed: 9/18/1985
Location: Peach Blossom Road (MD 333) , Oxford, Talbot County
Category: Object
Period/Date of Construction: 1895
Architect/Builder: Builder: James Lowery
Description: S.C. DOBSON is a 33'-1 3/4" Tilghman-style sailing log canoe, built by James Lowery at Tilghman, Maryland, in 1895. She has a beam of 6'-6 1/2". She has a longhead bow, a sharp stern, and a narrow, straight-sided hull. With a Tilghman racing rig she races under No. 6. The canoe is log-built in typical Tilghman fashion with carvel-fitted rising strakes and an applied sheer rail. Half-frames tie together the logs and the strakes, and sawn hanging knees support the washboards. There are three heavy horizontal frames on the log bottom which brace the mast-partners. Masts are stepped to the bottom of the hull rather than through thwarts. The boat has a straight raking stem with a longhead, which is fitted with flying braces of wood and set up with a cable bobstay and two bowsprit shrouds. The stern is sharp with the rudder hung outboard on the straight, raking stern post. Overall, the hull is narrow and straight-sided. An outrigger, or bumpkin, overhangs the stern. There is a centerboard cased in a trunk. The boat is partially decked, with washboards forming a peapod-shaped cockpit lined with a coaming. There are two masts with adjustable rake. The foremast, 38' long, is stepped in square mast partners on the foredeck. The mainmast, 34' long, is stepped in mast partners carried in a wide midships thwart. The rig is a racing one, with a foresail and mainsail with clubs at the clew and sprits, and a large jib. The foremast is set up with a forestay and two shrouds. The jib is carried on the forestay, clubbed along its foot, and led out on the bowsprit. The hull is painted the traditional white, as are the washboards. There is brightwork trim on the cockpit coaming. Trailboards have the name S.C. DOBSON, Oxford, carved in script letters and surrounded with a vine motif on a dark green ground, decorated with a red-and-white shield with six red wheat sheaves against a white ground with a wide red horizontal band. The trailboards are carried back onto the hull. Significance: This vessel is significant as being one of the last 22 surviving traditional Chesapeake Bay racing log canoes that carry on a tradition of racing on the Eastern Shore of Maryland that has existed since the 1840s. In addition, it is a surviving representative of the oldest indigenous type of boat on the Bay--the working log canoe--which was developed in the 17th century by early European settlers from the aboriginal dugout canoe. S.C. DOBSON is significant as being one of the older canoes in the racing fleet and for retaining her original log hull without a fiberglass coating. She was built in 1895 by James Lowery of Tilghman for Tom Burke and her original name was HATTIE B. Burke owned the canoe until about 1930, after which time she had a succession of owners until being acquired by Walter Dobson, the present owner, who restored her in 1971. At that time she was re-named after his parents, both of whom had the initials "S.C." Dobson's father had had a long association with the sailing canoes, having skippered the JAY DEE, MYSTERY, ISLAND BIRD, and ISLAND BLOSSOM. When the canoe was rebuilt in 1970-71 a piece of the Wye Oak was added to her construction. S.C. DOBSON is of further interest as being one of the few 3-log canoes in the racing fleet.
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