Maryland State Boat - Skipjack

[black & white photograph of a skipjack]
Photo by Marion E. Warren (Marion E. Warren Collection, MSA SC1890-BP7506, Maryland State Archives)

The skipjack became the State Boat in 1985 (Chapter 788, Acts of 1985; Code State Government Article, sec. 13-312).

Named after a leaping fish, skipjacks are the last working boats under sail in the United States. In winter, they dredge oysters from the floor of the Chesapeake Bay. "Drudgin," as watermen call this process, is hard, cold, dirty, sometimes dangerous work.

The skipjack originated on Maryland's Eastern Shore in the 1890s and was better known as a small "two-sail bateau" with a V-bottomed hull. The craft evolved into a larger, hearty skipjack with a reputation for speed. In 1957, more than 80 skipjacks plied the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. Today, disease and environmental hazards affecting the oyster, and the prevalence of powerboats, present an uncertain future for commercial skipjacks. Periodic restoration preserves working skipjacks and their 100-year history. Despite these efforts, the skipjack fleet has diminished sharply in recent years.

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 Maryland Manual On-Line, 1998

July 10, 1998   
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