Skipjacks recall boatbuilding tradition

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan Skipjacks Elsie Peggy Joyce, left, and the Modern Day are tied up at West Tedious Creek Landing in South Dorchester.

CROCHERON — Sitting quietly in the calm waters of West Tedious Creek are two skipjacks, the Elsie Peggy Joyce and the Modern Day. Loaded with the watermen’s tools of the trade, the traditional wooden boats offer memories of seafood harvesting as it has been done in the Chesapeake and its tributaries for many generations.

Tedious Creek is about a mile north of Crocheron, near the southern tip of Dorchester County. The boats, two of the survivors of the once very numerous fleet, are found at a county landing.

The vessels are owned by brothers Benny and Alex Horseman.

Jessica Horseman, the wife of Benny, told the Banner, “They recently opened their own shop for boat building. Benny recently built his new work boat and Alex is in the process of building his now. The Modern Day, was built from the hull up in their parents’ back yard in Madison! They are also full-time watermen who crab pot in the summer and dredge in the winter.”

Information from the website says the Elsie Peggy Joyce was probably built in the 1950s, and rebuilt in 2005. Her length on deck is 38 feet, and the beam is 13.4 feet. The boat’s dredge number is 91. The Modern Day’s cross-planked hull was constructed in the mid-1980s by Jack McClain, but not finished. The Horseman brothers acquired the hull in 2015 and built her into a working dredge boat.

The Modern Day has a length on deck of 49 feet and a beam of 15.6. Local folks will recognize that these boats have traveled a bit from their home port ‑ Madison is on the other side of the county.