Plans and Exhibit in the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum Collection

Sail and rowing craft designed and built for the abundant shad fishery of the 19th century were used in several regions throughout the Chesapeake Bay.  The Sharptown Barge was developed as a sailing and rowing workboat for the Nanticoke River fishery.  Even after the arrival of gasoline engines and the collapse of the shad fishery, the Sharptown Barge remained popular.   Another design for sail and oar was published by Pete Culler, and another specifically for power by Robert Steward.

These plans from the CBMM collection were drawn from a Sharptown Barge on exhibit on the porch of the Small Craft Building.


CBMM Catalog Item:  Sharptown Barge – Plan by Josef W. Liener

A large-format image of this plan, along with photos and a video walk-around of the Sharptown Barge at the CBMM Small Craft Building, are here.

The Plans

CBMM Catalog No. :

Pencil tracing of lines of a Sharptown shad barge

Liener, Josef W.

CBMM Description:
Date Made : Exact 12/12/1984.  Pencil tracing of lines of a Sharptown shad barge, done by the donor and dated 12/12/84. Boat is 22ft. LOA, 4’9″ beam. Drawing includes sail plan and table of offsets. Donor obtained information from talking to builder of shad barge in our collection (84-15-1) and from examination of boat. Dimensions similar to shad barge in collection. Condition: Good. Material: Pencil on paper. Copy in CSC FF 63.
Dim-Eng : 36.500in x 18.000in
Credit Line : Gift of Josef Liener

The Barge from which the plans were drawn

CBMM Catalog No. :

Shad Barge

Goslee, John E.

CBMM Description:
Shad barge built by part-time boatbuilder John Edward Goslee of Sharptown, Md. Built for Robert P. Dean of Centerville, Md. But never used. Boat purchased at the auction of his estate, 2 August 1984. Built of white cedar, unpainted on inside. Fastened with galvanized nails. Boat furnished with two unfinished poles, possibly for mast and boom, wooden bailer, and two large oarlocks. Boat built to be sailed or rowed. Colors: White, red. Place made: Sharptown, Md. Negative #: N2007 R5,N2017 R1

Text on the exhibit signage:

Built:  1979, Sharptown, MD by John Edward Goslee
Length:  22 ft, 2 in. (6.77m)
Beam:   5 ft, 2 in.  (1.59 m)

“I’ve built about 200 of them, some in as little as two weeks.  They were designed right here in Sharptown many years ago to be used for fishing for shad.  They carry as much as a ton of fish easy, a ton of anything.

“I remember one day when we caught 360 pounds of roe shad on one tide with my dad.”

– John Edward Goslee, boat builder, c. 1987



More about CBMM Collections

Items that are not exhibited around the CBMM campus are kept in the Norman & Ellen Plummer Center for Museum Collections.  This is a climate-controlled facility that was expanded and modernized in 2023.

You can search all the collections online here.  Look for the links at lower left to search these collections separately:

  • Objects, Photographs, Manuscripts, Ships Plans
  • Regional Oral History Database
  • Books and Periodicals

See my CBMM Collections Search Tips.

The collections and library are accessible only by appointment.  Email or visit the Library and Research page.

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.