Martha Lewis VVVV

At one time, the Chesapeake Bay’s rich oyster population fed a nationwide demand  and was highly valued. Deep-draft “Yankee” vessels flocked to the bay, fishing the oyster banks from dories that would transfer the catch to the mother ship.  To compete, local watermen built shallow vee-bottomed ketches called bugeyes that could dredge by sailing directly over the oyster banks, beating out the competition.  Bugeyes evolved into the simpler, more efficient rig known as the skipjack.  In their heyday, about 2000 skipjacks fished the Chesapeake. But by the 1990s only about 20 skipjacks remained. 

Skipjack Martha Lewis was built in 1955 by Bronza Parks. Her two sister ships -- Lady Katie and Rosie Parks --were in the yard alongside MarthaMr. Parks built Martha for Captain James Lewis, who named the boat after his mother. Most skipjacks were named after mothers and daughters, since other relationships could always end.

Later, Gene Tyler, of Tilghman Island, acquired MARTHA LEWIS. He worked her for 21 years, finally selling her to his brother-in-law, William Rowe. Two years later, unable to afford her upkeep, Mr. Rowe sold her  to Dr. Randy George, who purchased the boat in the hope that an organization could preserve the it’s history and working tradition.

Following the vision and dedication of her donor, Dr. Randy George of Birmingham, Alabama, she began her recovery. 

In 1994, the Chesapeake Heritage Conservancy, the City of Havre de Grace, and the Havre de Grace Maritime Museum worked together to restore the vessel and develop a mission that would preserve the MARTHA LEWIS as a full, working, oyster dredger – and to teach that dynamic history to the public.

MARTHA LEWIS Specifications

Length on deck 49'5“
Beam 16'7“
Gross Tons – 8  (GROSS TONS DEFINED)
Actual displacement 60,000 lbs.
Length at Water Line 46'2“
Draft 3'8“
Mainsail area 1,947 sq. feet
Mast height 65  feet over the water
Boom length is 50 feet