Photo credit: M.C. Wootton , 07/1984

Property Name: F.C. LEWIS, JR. (skipjack)
Date Listed: 5/16/1985
Inventory No.: S-234
Location: Lower Thorofare, Wenona, Somerset County

Description: The F.C. LEWIS JR. is a two-sail bateau (skipjack), or V-bottomed deadrise type of centerboard sloop, built in Bay style using cross-planked construction. Built in 1907 in Hopkins, Virginia, she remains active today in Maryland's sail oyster fleet. She measures 39' long, with a beam of 14.6' and a register depth of 3'; her register tonnage is 6. The vessel carries a typical skipjack rig, consisting of a jib-headed mainsail laced to the boom and carried on wood hoops at the mast, and a single, large, self-tending jib with a club on its foot. The vessel has a longhead bow and a square stern. Based in Wenona, Maryland, the boat is painted the traditional white. In shape, this skipjack exhibits an almost plumb stem, with headrails running from the end of the longhead back to the bow planking. Her square transom stern is boxlike, and sits "tucked" above the waterline where it meets the chine. The rudder is hung outboard on pintles mounted on the flat, slightly raking transom and skeg. There is a chock for the bow of the pushboat mounted on the starboard side of the transom. The single mast is raked aft; it is set up with triple shrouds with turnbuckles as well as the more traditional deadeyes. Other rigging includes a jibstay, forestay, topping lift, and lazyjacks (for furling the sails quickly). The bowsprit is set up with double chain bobstays as well as chain bowsprit shrouds and wooden headrails leading back to the bow from the longhead. The long boom is jawed to the mast. The hull is of cross-planked wooden construction, with some repair work done over years; it is currently sheathed with metal as ice protection at the waterline. There are long guards on either side of the hull to protect from bumping dredges. The hull is painted white.

Significance: 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. F.C. LEWIS, JR. is also significant as being one of the older skipjacks still dredging in the Chesapeake fleet. She was built in 1907 in Hopkins, Virginia, following traditional Bay-area design and construction methods. She joined the oyster fleet in the heyday of skipjack building, just before World War I, and has dredged ever since working out of Wenona, Maryland. F.C. LEWIS, JR. is one of the 21 surviving working skipjacks to have been built previous to 1912, although like the other members of the fleet, she has been much repaired over the years in true Chesapeake fashion.




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