These skipjacks were designed in the 1800s and built expressly for oystering in the shallow waters of the Chesapeake Bay. They are still used due to Maryland’s restricting powerboats from dredging oysters. There is no propulsion aboard the sailing vessel but they are allowed to use the motorized yawl boats to “push” the skipjack out to the oyster beds. Here we see two of the boats on the Choptank River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore awaiting a breeze so they can begin to dredge oysters.
These watermen, many descendants of the first settlers arriving in the mid 1600s have retained their Elizabethan dialect that is apparent in phrases like “Soon the wind’ll wind dine” [wind down], “It’s com’in on hoi toid” [it’s approaching high tide], and “The water’s flat cam” [flat calm]- hence the painting’s title.
Oil on linen 10” x 8” Framed overall 17 1/2″ x 15 1/2″