In August 2021, my son Nathan and I took yet another walk through the small craft collection at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) in St. Michaels.  Nathan was visiting from Madison, WI, where he maintains and sails his own crabbing skiff.

Outside the small craft shed, we saw this lovely v-bottom skiff in the water down at the dock.  She was looking a little neglected.

More Aug 2021 photos here.


Nathan said, “I’m familiar with this very boat from the web, but I didn’t recognize her at first.  She’s Cinnamon GirlIf I build another crab skiff, this might be it.  I want a mizzen!  And more deadrise.  And lower volume for rowing.” 

Nathan and I had built a similar boat together 20 years before.  Caroline C. is also a deadrise (v-bottom) crabbing skiff that has the same traditional workboat lines and lineage as Cinnamon Girl.  But Caroline C. is two feet longer and has a single mast and sail.

Nathan pointed me to an undated article by Kevin Brennan of Phoenix, Maryland, about the design and construction of Cinnamon Girl in 1995.  The design is the “Two-Sail Bateau” built at Cambridge in 1910, shown as Figure 4 in Chapelle’s Chesapeake Bay Crabbing Skiffs. 

Brennan built her in the traditional way with a cross-planked bottom.  After 10 years sailing her, he replaced the bottom planking with plywood. 

Chapelle had judged that “this model of skiff is one of the most seaworthy of the Crabbers, owing, no doubt, to the need of an able boat in the rough water at the mouth of the Choptank.”  Brennan found that Cinnamon Girl indeed performed well in a chop.  And he valued the simplicity of setting up and sailing the cat-ketch rig. 

Photos by Kevin Brennan,

This traditional v-bottom design went by many names among watermen – bateau, deadrise skiff, crabbing skiff.  Chapelle called the v-bottom crabbing skiff which Nathan and I built a “modified sharpie”.   This is what he wrote about the two-sail bateau and deadrise skiffs in general:

While a few of these skiffs were flat-bottomed, most of them had a good deal of deadrise, as in the example. Though the deadrise skiffs could not carry as much sail as the flat-bottomed boats, they were drier and would track with greater certainty in choppy water. It is a noticeable trait of wide, flat-bottomed craft to lose headway when coming about in rough water, and then pay off excessively before pointing up on the new course. Such behavior is really dangerous in an open or half-decked boat unless the main sheet is handled carefully. The construction of the skiff shown in Figure 4 is the usual Bay deadrise type.”

After sailing my 12-foot flat-bottom dory skiff near the mouth of the Choptank and other Eastern Shore rivers, I’m looking to build a bigger boat.  Since Nathan, Kevin Brennan, and Chapelle pointed out the virtues of this deadrise skiff and its rig,  I’ve been keeping an eye out for Cinnamon Girl at the CBMM waterfront and shipyard, snapping photos whenever I see her.

Maybe soon, Cinnamon Girl will be the next-to-last two-sail crabbing bateau.


Cinnamon Girl at the CBMM Waterfront and Shipyard

Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival 2021


Cinnamon Girl on YouTube: Launching, Sailing, Walkaround 

More photos and videos are here.


March 2022

June 2023

More June 2023 photos are here.


August 2023

More August 2023 photos are here.


October 2023

February 2024

Voile-Aviron | Sail & Oar

I also write about sail-and-oar cruising in small open boats on the Chesapeake and its tributaries at  Sail+Oar – Chesapeake Log.