My son Nathan and I built our Chesapeake Bay crabbing skiff, Caroline C., while he was in middle school and high school.  We had studied Reuel Parker’s The Sharpie Book together.  We liked the “18-foot modified sharpie skiff” that Parker adapted from Figure 115 in Chapelle’s American Small Sailing Craft.

We couldn’t afford Parker’s full set of plans.  So we worked entirely from his table of offsets and got some of our dimensions with an architect’s ruler right off the 6-inch drawings in the book.

We used BC plywood for sides and bottom and lumberyard SPF for the scantlings and spars.  We rolled on and sanded off a lot of epoxy.  Nathan learned how to apply fine paint and varnish finishes while working part time at Black Dog Boat Works in Denton.

Working off and on, it took us six years to complete.  We sailed The Sharpie (it was still unnamed) a half dozen times on the lower Choptank and the Chesapeake – Crab Alley and Eastern Bay – before Nathan left home for college.

We had far more boatbuilding experience than sailing experience when Nathan left for college.  And I had zero boat maintenance knowledge or skill.  The Sharpie sat in the water at the boatyard through a couple of winters, unskillfully covered, before she was trailered home and covered up again.

When Nathan returned with his college degree, he found The Sharpie in bad shape.  He had reached the decision to torch her, but his fiancée convinced him instead to restore her.  They worked at this for nearly two years while living at home, sending out résumés, and doing job interviews.  They moved to DC to start their careers but returned home often to visit and work on The Sharpie.

They did beautiful work.  The Sharpie was rescued and given new life, and finally christened Caroline C.  Nathan trailered her to a new home in Madison, Wisconsin, where she is sailed often and carefully maintained by her skipper and crew.

Besides gaining expertise in boatbuilding and maintenance, Nathan has also become a skillful small craft sailor.  Watch him launch Caroline C. and sail her on the upper Choptank on a recent visit:

Setting Sail from Denton

The Age of Working Sail Returns to the Upper Choptank