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The Seaside Bateau

By Craig O'Donnell.

Plan by Howard Chapelle, available from the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.


My mother's side of the family comes from Worcester County, MD, where they used to live within spittin' distance of Sinepuxent Bay. One of their houses, built about 1720, still stands, across from what used to be Sinepuxent Inlet. This inlet disappeared after storms in the 1820s, but it's there on charts dating earlier.

Their boats might have looked like this. This is a "Seaside Bateau" or "Sinepuxent Skiff", which came in a large size for serious fishing, and a smaller size as a utility boat. According to letters which the CBMM has, the small skiff used the mizzen (or as they call it, the mainsail) from the larger bateau.

There is much flare to the sides because these boats would go in and out of the inlets and into the ocean along Assateague, Chincoteague, Fenwick Island, etc. I'm sure the straight keel and skeg were to help the boat track straight if it encountered swells returning through the inlet.

There are a number of pictures of likely skiffs in Badger and Kellam, The Barrier Islands, about Virginia's Eastern Shore.

I'm working on a 1/3 scale model. I studied the plan and used a CAD program to lay out bulkheads or frames to build the model around. We'll see how that works out.

For more about these boats, including study plans to compare the smaller and larger skiffs, see http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~fassitt/ where you can also read amusing tales of ancestors.

 The 13-foot Seaside Bateau (one sail)


Bessie Lee, the 20-foot Seaside Bateau at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum: two-sail periauger rig or "cat-yawl".

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1.0 03/15/99