There’s nothing quite like the sound of waves gently lapping against a wooden hull. Or the feel of a boat as it cuts cleanly across the glassy bay, the sail billowing and straining at the push of the wind. It’s easy to see why some watermen choose the hard life of a skipjack captain, despite being dependant on the whims of Mother Nature and the backbreaking work of wrestling the oyster from its brackish environment at the bottom of the bay during the coldest months of the year.
The freedom of going where the wind takes you gets in your blood and you’re never quite the same.
If you’d like sail on a skipjack, there are seasonal tours available in Easton, St. Michaels, Cambridge, and now, Deal Island Harbor, right here in Somerset County. You can experience the history and heritage of these “living legends” with Captain David Whitelock who offers personalized daily tours on the skipjack Hilda Willing for four to six passengers.
If you call ahead, you can also tour the skipjack Kathryn under the big blue Revival Tent at Scott’s Cove Marina in Chance, Maryland. Currently in the middle of a three year restoration, the Kathryn offers a rare opportunity to see a vessel from the inside out.
This fall, the Kathryn will play host to a series of open house heritage events as a part of the Saving What Matters Project. The project showcases the traditional watermen's culture of Maryland's lower eastern shore through stories and demonstrations from the Chesapeake's proud working waterfront.
The events will be held from 10 am - 4 pm on October 11 - 13, November 16 - 18, and December 13 - 15 and will take place at the marina at 10551 Eldon Willing Road in Chance. For more information, or to arrange a visit, contact Project Manager Mike Vlahovich at 253-820-7292 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To arrange a tour aboard the Hilda Willing, contact Captain David Whitelock at 410-251-6980, visit the website, www.skipjackpreservation.org, or find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/HildaWilling.
Wendy Robertson is a frequent contributor to the Around Maryland blog. She writes about Somerset County and works for their local tourism office.