The Ada Fears is one of the most beautiful examples of a rapidly dwindling fleet of Chesapeake Bay Skipjacks left in good operating condition, and one of just a few Skipjacks on the upper Chesapeake Bay. The Ada Fears is a classic Chesapeake Bay Skipjack, built on Maryland's Eastern Shore in Oxford. Her specifications are:
Length on Deck: 35'6"
Overall Length: 55'
Mast Height: 50'
Engine: Westerbeeke 108 Diesel
She was built in 1968 by Applegarth's Boatyard in Oxford, Maryland as a three sail bateau for cruising the Bay. She is believed to be the last true skipjack built by this yard. In the late 1970's she was converted to a skipjack sail plan, and decked out as an oyster dredger.
Clarke Reed bought her and did some restoration work on her including the mast and transom. She was worked as an oyster dredge boat by Capt. Jim McGlincy during the early 1980's at which time she sailed the Chesapeake under the name Lady Agnes. The Lady almost went down under the weight of it's cargo and Capt. McGlincy gave her up. He now owns and charters the Schooner Kathryn M. Lee. Mr. Kirk Irwin bought her in June 1991 with a thought of chartering her for day sails, and began a major overhaul including:
New fir deck beams and marine plywood decking, covered with two sheets of fiberglass New shear planking and clamp rail New railing all around
New Oak/Stainless steel rubrail
New stainless steel hull fasteners and skeg thrubolts
New wiring, running lights, depth sounder
New fuel tank
In July of 1998 Carl Oulton bought her. During the summer of 2000, Mr. Oulton replaced the mast with a new one made of Yellow Pine.
|A SKIPJACK HISTORY
The "Skipjack" apparently first appeared on the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland in the late 1800s. Its development was precipitated by the decline in oyster harvests, and the need for an inexpensive shallow draft vessel. The design hasn't changed in over 150 years, and the average Skipjack has now lasted well over three-quarters of a century, a tribute to their excellent construction. Skipjacks carry a sail design known as the "Leg-O-Mutton" Sloop Rig consisting of a main sail and a jib. The standard design formula calls for a mast height which is the same the as length of the vessel on deck, plus the width of the beam. According to legend, no Skipjack was ever built from a formal set of plans, but rather by "rack of the eye". They were developed from the lines of the Chesapeake Bay Log Canoe, the Brogan, and the famous Clipper Ships. They are unique to the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia, and the few remaining skipjacks still dredge oysters under sail during the fall and winter oyster season on the Chesapeake Bay.