Stories

 
February 11, 2020

The Birth of a Skipjack, Part I – The Decline of the Oysters

By Charles Rouse The old sea captain eased his skipjack next to the wharf with a well-seasoned hand.  He could almost do it blind-folded; just by getting the feel of the waves pushing against the boat and listening to the flutter of the sails.  He docks the skipjack by the bucket lift – one that will soon weigh his catch of oysters and pay him his measure of his worth on this bleak day in March. “Drudging is almost done now”, he murmurs to his mates as he views the paucity of oysters culled at the end of a long […]
June 26, 2019

Building the Skipjack Nathan of Dorchester

The Dorchester Skipjack Committee built, owns and operates the Skipjack Nathan of Dorchester to serve as a goodwill ambassador for Dorchester county and the Eastern Shore The Builders Nathan was designed by marine architect Harold Ruark and built by volunteers under the direction of master shipwright Robert S “Bobby” Ruark. Harold carved the trailboards and eagle and built the pushboat Gerry Horney fabricated or restored many of the metal fittings and parts. Over 10,000 hours of volunteer labor went into building the Nathan of Dorchester Some of the people who built the Nathan of Dorchester Bobby Ruark, Harold Ruark, Melvin […]
March 11, 2019

Ode to the Watermen

When the cool wind begins to blow from the north And the waves of the bay begin to roll this way, That’s when watermen knows in his heart It’s time to gear up and go out on the bay.   Summer is over and crabbing is done, His credit’s all gone and winter had come; As sure as the tide will rise and run He feels in his bones, dredging season has begun.   His father before him, and grandfather too, Passed down the secrets of the bay so true. Dropping the yawl boat when no wind blows through And […]
March 11, 2019

The Birth of a Skipjack, Part IV – Nathan of Dorchester Fulfills Its Mission

By Charles O. Rouse As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Nathan of Dorchester, two questions come to mind:  first, Did the Nathan fulfill its mission to promote an increase in tourism, economic development, and community pride in the city of Cambridge?  The second question is, Did the operation of the Nathan of Dorchester, from its construction at Generation III boatyard to the hundreds of sails in and around the Choptank River and Chesapeake Bay help to preserve the rich maritime heritage of the Dorchester County?  The answer to both questions is a resounding “Yes”.  The Nathan has been […]
March 11, 2019

The Birth of a Skipjack, Part III, the Building of the Nathan

By Charles Rouse For most Marylanders, Saturday, June 4th, 1992 was just another Saturday at the beginning of summer. But for the people of Cambridge, Maryland, June 4th, 1992 was a day to remember.  That was the day the keelson was laid initiating the formal building of the skipjack, Nathan of Dorchester. Rev. Richard Hubbard gave the invocation and blessed the keelson that would become the backbone of the skipjack – the first one to be built in Cambridge along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay in 40 years.  Cambridge had always been the center of the skipjack building industry […]
March 11, 2019

The Birth of a Skipjack, Part II – The Nathan Family

By Charles Rouse Around 1870, near the height of the oyster dredging industry, Meyer Nathan arrived in Cambridge, Maryland.   Meyer travelled around the county as an itinerant tinkerer (one who fixed pots and pans), while 800 skipjacks travelled around the Choptank River and Chesapeake Bay fixated on dredging for oysters.  Meyer Nathan was never a skipjack captain, and chances are he never set foot on a skipjack; yet he and his son, Milford, would, over a century later, have a profound influence on preserving the culture, history, and heritage of Maryland’s (Cambridge) skipjacks. Meyer Nathan personifies an American ‘rags-to-riches’ story.  […]
February 7, 2019

We Celebrated Our 25th Anniversary

  ABOUT US The Skipjack Nathan of Dorchester, was commissioned on July 4, 1994 and celebrated our 25th  anniversary in 2019! Throughout its lifetime, this historic vessel has offered a comprehensive tourist experience in the traditions and culture of the Chesapeake Bay. Completely crewed and maintained by volunteers, it is a labor of love as they preserve the Nathan, while offering a maritime heritage experience to visitors and the community. The Nathan relies on donations, charters, and public sails to maintain its recreational and educational mission, and we invite you to help us keep it going. In the past 25 […]
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