Restoring Skipjack Caleb W. Jones

Restoring Skipjack Caleb W. Jones

Caleb W. Jones was built in 1953 at Rice Brothers boatyard in Reedville, Virginia.

She is one of the less than a dozen surviving oyster sailing dredge boats of the once mighty Chesapeake fleet. The vessel was constructed during the “second wave” of skipjack construction during a revival of the oyster harvesting industry after World War II. The 65-foot over-all length wooden vessel was built for Jones` grandson and after two decades of service in Virginia waters, was purchased by a waterman on Deal Island, Somerset County, Maryland. The captain, Richard “Dickey” Webster retired from oystering in 2006 and the boat was then tied up at Scotts Cove Marina in shallow water in desperate need of significant repairs.

In 2008, Michael J. Sullivan, a Charles County businessman with an interest in Maryland history, purchased the vessel and personally financed its restoration so that it could be used for environmental and cultural education programs on the Potomac River. The boat was then transported to St. Michaels, Maryland where Michael Vlahovich and crew from Coastal Heritage Alliance restored the vessel in full public view as an educational exhibit for visitors to the region. The project also served as a training opportunity for apprentice shipwrights, allowing master craftsman like Mr. Vlahovich to pass along critically endangered skills to a new generation.

Photo Gallery

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Before and During Restoration


Launch Day