Nathan News & Stories

 
October 9, 2020

Preservation Efforts Continue During Covid Pandemic

Someone once wrote that “A wooden boat is a hole in the water into which a lot of money is poured”.  The Dorchester Skipjack Committee has been very aware of this saying as we continue to work preserving the skipjack Nathan of Dorchester. The Corona virus pandemic forced us to cancel all public sailing activities for 2020, a major source of fundraising to keep Nathan in operation. We may not be out there sailing with passengers this year, but our volunteers are always finding something to repair or replace.     Weather keeps attacking the boat. Soft spots appear in […]
September 3, 2020

The 2020 Skipjack Race

A limited Skipjack Race will be held September 26th at Long Wharf in Cambridge. We expect 10-12 skipjacks to attend this years race. The surviving skipjacks  of a once mighty fleet need funding for repairs and the 2020 Choptank Heritage Skipjack race for boats and crews will provide much needed funding for each boats ongoing maintenance. Due to restrictions on social gatherings, the race may safely be viewed from the shoreline of the Choptank river. There will be no other public events associated with the race. Ida Mae won the 2019 race in very light winds. Maryland Public TV featured […]
April 2, 2020

2021 Sailing Season Will Start in July

Our 2021 sailing season will start in Julyn We are finishing up on some needed repairs to the Nathan. After encountering some delays, we expect the boat to be back in service at the end of July open for public sails. Once we get Nathan from the boatyard our captains, crew and volunteers  will be preparing for the 2021 sailing season. We will be doing extensive training  to insure that we are ready to offer an exceptional sailing experience to all who sail with us in 2021 and beyond..                                 […]
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.  […]
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