When I first tried to envision oyster dredging, I imagined a short squat boat with a big engine. Those of you who grew up here know how wrong I was. Oyster boats come in all shapes and sizes with both motors and sails.
With a 76′ mast and a 2,600 square foot sail, the Dee of St. Mary’s is an impressive sailing skipjack that was built and used for oyster dredging until it was no longer profitable. Maybe you remember sailing on it when Jack Russell began Skipjack Tours teaching school children about the Chesapeake. It’s still used for education through the Chesapeake Bay Field Lab, but the Calvert Marine Museum now offers public sailings as well throughout the year.
During the two-hour sail, you can sit, relax, and enjoy the views as you sail in the protected waters around Solomons. If you want to get involved, you can help hoist the sail and take it down. Talk to the captain. He’s happy to teach you about the boat and the joys of sailing her.
We did both on our trip. One daughter relaxed the entire time, just soaking up the sun and ambience. Another lined up with the men and hoisted the sail, held a soft crab, and saw the beating heart of an oyster. I took my turn standing lookout on the bow.
In keeping with the educational tradition of the Dee, you’ll learn about blue crabs and get a detailed demonstration on how to shuck an oyster. The crew is very happy to explain the boat and its history as you sail.
Private sails are available as well, but you can book public sails through the Calvert Marine Museum. They run seasonally from the Lore Oyster House.
Public Sails on the Dee of St. Mary’s