Due to the vagaries of magazine production, our February report “hits the docks,” so to speak, in mid-January. That makes this report a good one for looking back on some of our favorite stories from 2022. As I think back over the last year, many stories come to mind. We did 12 monthly Boatshop Reports incorporating 79 separate stories. They are all interesting and it is hard to choose just a few, but these are some of the the ones that stand out. Let’s start with two long term projects that came to completion during the past year.
The first is the completion and delivery of the Composite Yacht 55-foot custom christened Skinny Witch, already known as “the fastest deadrise on the Bay.” This project first came to my attention in June of 2018. In an interview about the process of custom boatbuilding, Rob Hardy of Composite Yacht in Trappe, MD, described a development well under way.
“The owner’s requirements included a traditional Chesapeake profile and a top-end speed of 50 knots minimum,” Rob explained. “We have several traditional Bay designs in our line-up, but the classic deadrise hull is just not up to that speed requirement.” Consultation with naval architect Lou Codega resulted in a design which required 4000 horsepower and a length of 55 feet to support that much power and meet the speed requirement. The next step was model and tank testing. This was necessary, because as Rod explained, “We don’t usually do tank testing. With our existing moderate speed designs, we know what they can do… but this is a new situation. We are definitely pushing the envelope on a traditional design with a conventional drive train.”
The 55 continued to push the envelope with new construction materials and new and unusual construction techniques. We reported on progress every two or three months until the CY55 was completed and delivered to her owner in July of 2022. She met her speed goal and went to the Annapolis Powerboat Show in October.
The second long term project that came to completion this past summer was the construction of the new replica Maryland Dove at the shipyard at the Chesapeake Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, MD. The selection of the museum to do the construction was announced in the March 2019 Boatshop Reports and her keel was laid in June.
The Dove was the smaller of the two vessels that transported the first settlers to what became Maryland in 1634. In October of 2021, we published a feature article titled “A Sailor Looks at the New Dove” (in our sister publication SpinSheet). In that article, lead shipwright Joe Conner said, “This is the fourth Maryland Dove counting the original. There was one built in the 30s as a reproduction, the current one built in the seventies by Jim Richardson as a reproduction, and we started this one in June 2019. Some of the modifications to the 1978 design of the current Dove, drawn by William Baker, a well-known naval architect and expert on colonial era vessels, may be surprising.”
“We consulted Dr. Fred Hocker at the VASA museum in Sweden. He’s had a whole career studying 17th century British vessels. We applied a lot of what he’s learned through studying shipwrecks and underwater archeology to our plan. Another source of modifications is that this is a modern vessel,” Joe continued. “We must meet the US Coast Guard requirements to carry passengers, so some changes from purely historically accurate are necessary… This boat was a coastal trader and had a fore and aft rig and that’s the way we will equip her,” he concluded. Another Coast Guard required change was the addition of auxiliary power, provided by two cleverly disguised 100 horsepower John Deere diesels. Additional outside ballast amounting to 20,000 pounds was also required to give her more stability.
We reported almost monthly on the progress of construction. She was completed and delivered to her owners, Historic Saint Mary’s City, in August of 2022 and almost immediately set out on a tour of Chesapeake Bay ports.
As I was growing up, much of my messing about in boats took place on the South River, West River, and the adjacent waters of the Bay. I have always had a fondness for the small West River village of Galesville, MD, and especially for the historic Hartge Yacht Yard. Hartge’s, as the yard was universally known, was established shortly after the civil war by Captain Emile Alexander Hartge in Shady Side, moved to Galesville in 1878, and was always family run. Hartge’s built a solid reputation as a center of boat building and repair.
As the second half of the 20th century progressed, many boat yards gradually changed to what we now think of as marinas, with the emphasis on resort services and amenities becoming more important than building and repair. As these changes engulfed Hartge’s, tension developed between the family members who wanted to expand the marina side of the business and those who wanted to stick with the core business of service and repair. In 1978 the original boat yard was split into a marina side, Hartge Yacht Harbor, and the building and repair side, retaining the name Hartge Yacht Yard, headed up by Emile Alexander Schlegel (Alex), Captain Emile’s great grandson and namesake. The two operations shared the original Church Lane site until 2009 when Alex moved the Yacht Yard operation to the vacant Woodfield Seafood property on the other side of the Galesville peninsula.
Fast forward to July of 2022. The following excerpt is from a joint news release from Hamilton Chaney and Alex Schlegel which appeared in that month’s column. “We are excited to announce that after 13 years, Hartge Yacht ‘Yard’ is returning to its original Church Lane location in Galesville, MD, at Hartge Yacht ‘Harbor.’ Beginning September 1, Hartge Yacht ‘Yard’ will operate the service operation while Hartge Yacht ‘Harbor’ will continue to operate the marina. After purchasing Hartge’s in June of 2021, we began extensive investment into the entire facility. The piers, bathrooms, buildings, grounds, Wi-Fi, dinghy racks, processes, and procedures have all been our focus. We believe that this is the next step in making Hartge’s the very best it can be. With our marina expertise and Hartge Yacht ‘Yard’s’ service excellence, Hartge’s will provide a high-quality full-service marina experience…”
In our December column, Alex Schlegel reported that the new location is up and running and they are so busy that they are continuing to use the Woodfield location as an annex.
A story which really surprised me is the ongoing and long-standing relationship between American Cruise Lines and Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, MD, as reported in our December column. American Cruise Lines specializes in small ship coastal cruising. It seems that most of their ships were built at Chesapeake Shipbuilding, and the cruise line is expanding their fleet.
According to a recent news release, American has ordered 12 new 109 passenger coastal cruising catamarans, all to be built at the Salisbury shipyard. The fleet will have unprecedented near-shore operating versatility and will operate exclusively in the United States. According to Charles B. Robinson, president and CEO of the line, “These boats can run almost anywhere, and because there will be 12 of them they will be deployed all over the United States.” In addition, Robertson said, “Together with Chesapeake Shipbuilding we built the first modern riverboats in the country. Now we are proud to introduce another new ship design for domestic exploration. American has specialized in small ship cruising for over 30 years, and continuing to innovate and expand the possibilities for cruising close to home is central to our mission.” Chesapeake Shipbuilding is located on 13 acres on the Wicomico River in Salisbury, MD. They specialize in designing and building vessels up to 450 feet long.
That’s only four of the many stories that we covered this year. Some that we don’t have space for: the donation of the 65-foot, 120-year-old sailing yacht Witchcraft to the Calvert Marine Museum, the expansion of Chesapeake Light Craft in Annapolis, MD, the new owners of Chesapeake Boat Club in Annapolis, MD, the appearance of the last World War II Army Air Corps crash boat in her original configuration at the Antique and Classic Boat Show in St. Michaels, MD, and the list goes on and on. We hope you enjoyed this look back at the old year. 2022 was a very busy and exciting one. Let’s hope that 2023 has just as much to offer.
By Capt. Rick Franke