Photo credit: M.C. Wootton , 11/1983

Property Name: SUSAN MAY (skipjack)
Date Listed: 5/16/1985
Inventory No.: S-241
Location: Lower Thorofare, Wenona, Somerset County

Description: This vessel is a fore-and-aft-planked sloop with a typical two-sail skipjack rig. She works in the Maryland oyster dredging fleet. Built in 1901 in Pocomoke City, Maryland, she measures 46' long, with a beam of 15.9' and a depth of 1.6'; her gross tonnage is 10 register tons. The wooden hull is painted white, with dark tan trim on the taffrail, cabin door, and hatch covers. In shape the vessel has a longhead bow, with a sharply raking stem and hollow, clipper-like lines. She has a shallow, steeply raked transom stern with a modified platform similar to a patent stern built over the transom. The rudder is carried in board, well below the waterline. There is a jig for the pushboat on the middle of the transom. The deck is flush, with several deck structures. From the stern forward these include: a box over the steering gear, located well forward of the after rail; a tall trunk cabin with a slide and a central, full-length door; a main hatch; a box over the winders; and a hatch laid across the deck just aft of the mast. The boat carried dredging gear, rollers for the dredges, and davits for a pushboat suspended over the stern. The single mast is well raked aft, and bows a bit aft as well. It is set up with shrouds, forestay, jibstay, and a topping lift. The boom is jawed to the mast. The jib-headed mainsail is laced to the boom and carried on wooden mast hoops. There is a club-footed jib. The bowsprit is squared off on top, and rigged with bobstays and bowsprit shrouds.

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. SUSAN MAY is of interest as being one of the older skipjacks still dredging in the Chesapeake fleet. She was built in 1901 in Pocomoke City, Maryland, and is among the few members of the skipjack fleet not built with typical Bay-area cross-planked construction. Her hull is that of a sloop, fore-and-aft-planked, with the typical skipjack sailing rig. The vessels KATHRYN (1901) and REBECCA RUARK (1896) are the only others in the fleet to be fore-and-aft planked. SUSAN MAY is one of the 19 surviving working skipjacks to have been built previous to 1912. She has worked in the oyster dredging fleet since her building and is presently based at Deal Island.




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