Lower Thorofare, Wenona, Somerset County
This vessel is a 45' long two-sail bateau, or V-bottom deadrise type of centerboard sloop, commonly referred to as a skipjack. Built in 1909 in Deep Creek, Virginia, using typical Bay area cross-planked construction methods, she remains active as a sailing oyster dredgeboat. The vessel has a beam of 15.3', a depth of 3.1', and a net registered tonnage of 8. She carries a typical skipjack rig consisting of jib-headed mainsail and a large jib, and has a long bowsprit, a longbead or clipper bow, and a square (transom) stern. The wooden hull is painted the traditional white. HOWARD has a straight, slightly raking stem and a longhead beneath the bowsprit. She is square sterned, with a flat transom with little rake. The rudder is hung outboard on pintles with a chock, or jig, for the pushboat located to starboard of the rudder. Guards are mounted on the side of the hull to protect if from the bumping of the dredges. There is a single mast set up with triple shrouds with lengths of chain at the ends, as well as a forestay, jibstay, and topping lift. The sails, both jib and main, are furled with the aid of lazyjacks. The boom is jawed to the mast and the sail is carried on wood hoops at the mast and laced to the boom. The large jib has a club on its foot. The white-painted bowsprit is set up with double chain bobstays and chain bowsprit shrouds. In addition to the sail rig the skipjack carries a motorized pushboat suspended over the stern on davits. The pushboat can be chocked to the skipjack's stern to push it. The vessel is flush-decked and surrounded by a lograil forward and a pinrail aft. There are several deck structures including a tall cabin trunk with a full-length companionway door and slide set to starboard. There are dredge rollers set into the rails amidships, and oystering gear and equipment on deck.
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. HOWARD is of interest as being one of the older skipjacks still dredging in the Chesapeake fleet. She was built in 1909 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 the other members of the fleet, she has been much repaired over the years. A recent addition has been an alteration to her tall cabin trunk to accommodate a full-length doorway to the companionway, a modern improvement designed to made access to the cabin easier.