|SHARPIE 20 MARYLAND CRABBING SKIFF
Sail Area-135 sq ft
|I first fell in love with these unique craft when I discovered the beautiful drawings of them in the back room of Marmaduke’s Pub in Eastport, Maryland. I found several additional sources for my own designs of crabbing skiffs in an old issue of WoodenBoat Magazine, in Chesapeake Bay Crabbing Skiffs, by Chapelle, published by Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, and in American Small Sailing Craft (Fig. 37).
|I designed and built the 17 1/2-foot-crabbing skiff, Mallard, of which several photos appear in The Sharpie Book. Because the type is very small for its size, I include here my 20-foot design of a Maryland Crabbing Skiff, which is a little roomier — safer, faster, and more fun to sail.
|The boats are very fast and Weatherly, and handle somewhat differently than anything I have ever sailed. Mallard has lee helm in light air (it helps to keep the centerboard all the way down), but develops very slight weather helm (desirable) in more wind. When the boat is overpowered, the jib is taken in, and she balances and handles perfectly under mains’l alone. Being so long and narrow, the boat is slow to turn. To maneuver in tight spaces, the centerboard MUST be down! Even so, I found Mallard difficult to turn and dock in the very narrow canal where she is berthed, and because the wind blows straight up the canal, I have twice found myself horribly tangled in the mangroves at the lee end! I also rammed the cement sea wall trying to round up to my dock, leaving a big dent in the end of the bowsprit. Of course, to add insult to injury, all this happened on a first date with a very lovely bikini-clad woman, and the entire spectacle was witnessed by the whole neighborhood, which came out to watch! I got it right next time.
In short, Mallard, and perhaps crabbing skiffs in general, are very sensitive, fast vessels which require a higher level of consciousness and skill to handle than many of the other vessels shown here, particularly in tight spaces. But once in open water, the craft are like greased lightning. It’s not as much that they lack responsiveness as it is that they are LONG (the distance between centerboard and rudder is extremely far), need room to turn in, and are so damn FAST that you really have to think ahead!