Nathan sailing schedule delayed again! We now hope to carry passengers in September!
The skipjack Nathan of Dorchester is part of the era known as “wooden ships and iron men”. Since last August, Nathan has been docked awaiting repairs to the forward port and starboard log and pin rails as well as replacement of the port knightshead a complex structural element at the bow of the boat.
The crew of the Nathan is standing by awaiting the completion of the repairs. We will then haul Nathan onto dry land to quickly scrape, paint, and inspect the hull, bend on our new set of sails, perform detailed rigging inspections, retrain crew on all aspects of sailing and emergency operations and schedule an on the water inspection by the U S Coast Guard to become fully qualified to carry passengers again.
Only after we are satisfied that Nathan and her crew are ready, will we start carrying passengers. Unfortunately, Nathan is not the only skipjack that is temporarily out of service. Wade Murphy’s privately owned skipjack Rebecca Ruark from Tilghman Island and Sean Ridgely’s skipjack Stanley Norman to sail from Kent Island are also undergoing repairs before completing their Coast Guard Inspections and returning to passenger service. The skipjack Martha Lewis sits under a shed at the Ruark boat works and has been out of service for many years undergoing a series of repairs.
Skipjacks are built from local lob lolly pine with white oak frames and the boats were intended to work hard dredging for oysters over a 20 year lifespan. When repairs became too extensive and costly, the boats were stripped of usable hardware and towed up creeks and abandoned. The remains of several skipjacks can still be seen on remote creeks. The once might fleet of over 700 skipjacks is now down to about 25 boats, with no more than a dozen still capable of sailing and only a handful of these boats are licensed to carry passengers. The skipjack Nathan of Dorchester will be back sailing the Choptank River as soon as repairs are completed and boat is inspected by the U S Coast Guard.