Want to own a 19th century sailing skipjack for just $10,000? Well, even the current owner says you shouldn't own a wooden boat unless you can work on it yourself, but what romance, what splendid weekends in the sun. The Ada Fears, 55ft, built in 1968, is for sale on Craig's List.
Skipjack Ada Fears in action
The skipjack, a v-bottomed boat developed originally in the 1880s, was used for oyster harvesting. She is two-masted with a 'leg-of-mutton' mainsail, jib, and hard-chine hull. The main mast is raked, hewn from a single log, with two stays on either side, without spreaders; it is stepped towards the bow of the boat, with a small cabin. The mainsail is ordinarily triangular, though gaff rigged examples were built. The jib is self-tending and mounted on a bowsprit. The hull is wooden and V-shaped, with a hard chine and a square stern. Skipjacks have very low freeboard and a wide beam (averaging one third the length on deck). A centerboard is mounted in lieu of a keel. As typical in regional practice the bow features a curving longhead under the bowsprit, with carved and painted trailboards.
Skipjack Ada Fears as she is today
Fewer than 30 of these graceful swan-like boats remain in existence.
The skipjacks only retired recently as oyster boats. In the 2011-2012 oyster season, the remaining working skipjack fleet harvested over 11,000 bushel (8% of the yearly bushel totals) of oysters from Maryland waters. Today, the closest most people can get to sailing a skipjack is to take a tour on one of the several skipjacks around the east coast of America.
The current owner, Capt. Brian Conrad, has posted an ad on the site for the boat. He bought the skipjack seven or eight years ago from a man in New Jersey, then sailed it back to the Chesapeake Bay, where is has been docked ever since.
Although he lives in North Carolina where he works as an oyster biologist, Conrad, 43, returned to Maryland every Labor Day to sail the Ada Fears in the annual Deal Island Skipjack Race.
Recent health problems are the reason he decided to sell the Ada Fears. 'You shouldn't own a wooden boat if you can't work on it yourself,' he said.
The Ada Fears is the smallest remaining skipjack and one of the last ones built in Maryland.
Skipjacks aren't offered for sale very often, Capt. Harold 'Stoney' Whitelock of Dames Quarter, who owns the skipjack Kathryn told DelmarvaNow.
'There's a few left, and every now and then they come up,' he said. 'True watermen keep them and pass them onto their children.'
'The boat's in decent shape,' said Jack Willing, owner of Scott's Cove Marina in Chance, where the Ada Fears currently sits. The bowsprit was replaced after it broke off when it collided with the boom of another boat during the 2009 Skipjack Race, he said.
If you are interested please go to Craigs List.