CBMM announces Potomac River Dory Boat restoration

The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) has announced restoration work has begun on its Potomac River Dory Boat, with the restoration continuing over the winter months. All work will be done in full public view in the museum’s boat shop, as shipwrights, apprentices, and volunteers replace the shaft log, keel section, and bottom planking.

CBMM Vessel Maintenance Manager Michael Gorman makes use of a batten to begin this winter’s restoration work on the museum’s Potomac River Dory Boat.

CBMM Vessel Maintenance Manager Michael Gorman makes use of a batten to begin this winter’s restoration work on the museum’s Potomac River Dory Boat.

The 38’ Dory Boat was built in 1931 by Francis Raymond “Peg Leg” Hayden along the Potomac River at Banks O’Dee, MD. Potomac River Dories were built in Southern Maryland on the Potomac River and used primarily for oyster tonging. These boats are the descendants of the Black Nancy, a type of small (18 to 27’) and narrow Potomac River workboat dating to before the Civil War.

According to Potomac River historian Edwin Beitzell, the Potomac River Dory was designed in 1875 by Grason Thompson and Charles G. Huseman, both of St. Patrick’s Creek.

J. Richard Delahay of Compton, MD bought the boat in a sunken condition around 1938 before refitting her. He later passed the boat on to his sons, Kenneth and Ronald, who used her for oyster tonging. Always called the “big dory,” she was one of the few of her type to be fitted with wheel steering. The boat was donated to CBMM’s in 1988 by the Calvert Marine Museum.

Like other Potomac River Dories, this one is planked fore and aft, with the chine rising high above the waterline at her bow. Towards the bow, the sawn frames reach from the keel to the top of the side planks, stopping just short of the lapped sheer strake. Farther aft, the bottom frames are bolted to the side frames, but without a chine log. The tuck stern and shield-shaped transom are typical of the Potomac River Dory.

When restoration is finished, the boat will be painted in the traditional dory colors of green and red, with yellow stripes adorning her lapped sheer strake, and the topsides and deck painted white.

Once the painting is completed and the engine installed, the Dory Boat will rejoin CBMM’s floating fleet of historic Chesapeake Bay vessels, with her relaunch along the Miles River in St. Michaels anticipated this spring.

For more information, visit www.cbmm.org

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