M.C. Wootton, 11/1983
IDA MAY (skipjack)
Upper Thorofare , Chance, Somerset County
Period/Date of Construction:
Related Multiple Property Record:
Chesapeake Bay Skipjack Fleet (MPD)
This vessel is a 42.2' long two-sail bateau, or V-bottom deadrise type of centerboard sloop, commonly referred to as a skipjack. She was built in 1906 in Urbanna or Deep Creek, Virginia, using typical Bay cross-planked construction methods, and is a member of the working fleet of sailing oyster dredgeboats. She has a beam of 14.4', a depth of 3.3', and a net register tonnage of 7. She carries a typical skipjack rig of jib-headed mainsail and large jib, and has a longhead or clipper bow and a square stern. The wooden hull is painted the traditional white. IDA MAY has a sharp, slightly raking stem with a longhead mounted beneath the bowsprit. At her stern, the chine meets the transom below the waterline in an unusually low "tuck." The transom is steeply raked with a rudder carried on pintles and mounted on an outboard skeg. There is a chock or jig for the pushboat mounted to starboard of the rudder. Guards are mounted on the sides of the hull to protect it from the bumping of the oyster dredges. The single mast is raked somewhat aft, set up with double shrouds, forestay, and jibstay. A topping lift leads to the end of the boom, which is jawed to the mast. Lazyjacks are used for furling both mainsail and jib. The mainsail, laced to the boom, is jib-headed; the large jib has a club on its foot. The bowsprit, braced with headrails (flying wooden braces) is rigged with double chain bobstays and chain bowsprit shrouds. In addition to the sail rig, typical of the skipjack, the vessel carries a motorized pushboat suspended over the stern on davits; this can be "chocked" into the stern in order to push the larger boat. The skipjack is flush-decked. There is a tall trunk cabin aft with a "doghouse" addition with large windows at its forward end, and a companionway slide in the after end. There is also a slant-topped, low cuddy hatch forward, with a slide providing access to the forepeak. The deck is surrounded by a high pinrail around the stern quarters, and a low pinrail atop a lograil at the bows. The vessel carries dredging gear including oyster dredges, rollers mounted on the rails amidships, winders, and a winder engine.
This vessel is significant as being one of the 36 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 the 20th century, today only this small number remain to carry on the tradition of working sail. IDA MAY is of interest as being one of the older skipjacks still dredging in the Chesapeake fleet. She was built in 1906 in Deep Creek, Virginia, following traditional Bay-area design and construction methods. She has worked in the oyster-dredging fleet since her building and is presently based at Deal Island. The vessel is one of the 19 surviving working skipjacks to have been built previous to 1912, although, like other members of the fleet, she has been much repaired over the years. She has some modern additions, including a "doghouse" built onto her cabin trunk for the comfort of the helmsman.