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Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: Robert Willasch, 1994
SIGSBEE (skipjack)
Inventory No.: B-4520
Date Listed: 5/16/1985
Location: Pier 5, Baltimore Inner Harbor, Baltimore, Baltimore City
Category: Object
Period/Date of Construction: 1901
Description: This vessel is a 47-foot long, two-sail bateau, or V-bottomed deadrise type of centerboard sloop, commonly known as a "skipjack." She was built in 1901 in Deal Island, Maryland for the oyster dredging fleet. She has a beam of 15.8 feet, a depth of 3.8 feet, and a gross registered tonnage of 8 tons. She is built by cross-planked construction methods. She carries a typical skipjack rig of jib-headed mainsail laced to the boom and carried on wood hoops at the mast, and a single large job with a club on its foot. The wooden hull is painted white. The vessel has a longhead bow and a square transom with little rake. There is little "tuck" to the stern, but it meets the chine above the waterline. The rudder is carried inboard. Decks are flush, with a surrounding low pinrail except at the work area amidships. Deck structures from the stern forward include: a box over the steering gear; a trunk cabin; a small hatch; a box built over the winders; and a main hatch over the centerboard trunk. Other fittings include oystering gear, winders, and davits for the pushboat, which is suspended over the stern. The single mast is set almost plumb; it came from the old skipjack ROBERT L. WEBSTER and was cut down to fit SIGSBEE. It is set up with double shrouds with turnbuckles. The bowsprit is squared-off on top and is led back to a flat sampson post. The bowsprit is set up with double chain bobstays, and cable-and-chain bowsprit shrouds. Other rigging includes a forestay, jibstay, and topping lift led to the end of the boom, which is jawed to the mast; lazyjacks are used on the sails. The vessel is decorated with trailboards, with the name SIGSBEE carved on a red field, a green ground with vines and leaves, and a flag-and-shield motif in red, white, and blue, with cannons. The name is also painted in black letters on the hull. The davits for the pushboat are accented in black. Significance: This vessel is significant as being one of the 3.6 surviving traditional Chesapeake Bay skipjacks and a member of the last commercial sailing fleet in the United States. Out of a fleet of hundreds of skipjacks that worked Bay waters in the early years of this century, today only this small number remain to carry on the tradition of working sail. SIGSBEE is of interest as being one-of the older skipjacks still dredging in the Chesapeake fleet. She was built in 1901 in Ox Deal Island, Md. following traditional Bay-area design and construction methods. Her mast was re-sued from the old skipjack ROBERT L. WEBSTER, a common way of recycling vessel parts. She has worked in the oyster-dredging fleet since her building and is presently based at Deal Island. The vessel is one of the 21 surviving working skipjacks to have been built previous to 1912. She was involved in a three-way collision with the SEA GULL and the AMY MISTER in the 1969 Chesapeake Appreciation Days races at Sandy Point, Md, as reported in Sports Illustrated.


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