THOMAS W. CLYDE (skipjack)
Lower Thorofare, Wenona, Somerset County
This vessel is a 54.4' long, two-sail bateau, or V-bottomed deadrise type of centerboard sloop, commonly referred to as a skipjack. Built in 1911 in Oriole, Maryland, for the oyster fishery, she continues active as a sailing dredgeboat. The vessel has a beam of 18.2', a depth of 5.3', and a net register tonnage of 21. She carries a typical skipjack rig of jib-headed mainsail and large boom. She has a longhead bow with headrails and a square, transom stern. Her wooden hull is painted the traditional white. THOMAS W. CLYDE has a straight, slightly raking stem with a longhead. Headrails--wooden braces--extend from the end of the longhead back to the hull. Her square stern is boxy. The vessel shows typical Bay-area cross-planked construction methods. Her rudder is carried outboard on the transom with a chock for the pushboat located to one side. There are guards amidships to protect the hull from the bumping of the dredges, and metal ice sheathing at the waterline. The single mast is set up with double shrouds and turnbuckles, as well as a forestay, jibstay, and topping lift. There are lazyjacks on the sails for easier furling. The mainsail is laced to the boom and carried on wood hoops at the mast; the boom is jawed to the mast. A large jib, with a club along its foot, is rigged out to the bowsprit, which is long and octagonal, painted white with brightwork toward the end and a white tip. The bowsprit is rigged with double chain bobstays and chain bowsprit shrouds. There are headrails from the end of the longhead back to the hull. In addition to the sail rig, the vessel carries a motorized pushboat suspended from davits over the stern. The skipjack is flush-decked, with a wheelbox at the after rail, a tall cabin trunk, and a box over the winder engine. Decks are surrounded with a pinrail forward and a higher pinrail aft, but open with dredge rollers amidships. Dredging gear is carried in season.
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. THOMAS W. CLYDE is of interest as being one of the older skipjacks still dredging in the Chesapeake fleet. She was built in 1911 in Oriole, Maryland, 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 in true Chesapeake fashion.