The Lady Maryland represents our historic relationship with the sea reminding us of Maryland’s unique sailing heritage on the Chesapeake Bay. Sailing is an ancient mode of transportation, which has been traced back to the ancient Egyptians who sailed papyrus reed rafts over 7,000 years ago. As civilization evolved through the centuries, so did sailing ships.
The first Europeans to extensively explore the Chesapeake Bay were aboard sailing vessels with Captain John Smith in 1608. Since then, sailing ships have played a significant role in life on the Chesapeake Bay and have provided the vital line between communities that grew along the Bay’s shores. Many types of ships have sailed the Bay for reasons such as exploration, transportation, commerce, war, commercial fishing and recreation. A ship’s size, shape and rigging design would vary according to the ship’s intended purpose but all shared a common dependence on wind and power.
The talented Chesapeake shipwrights were ever mindful of a boat’s future function such as oystering, carrying cargo, or fighting ships. They constructed each boat to serve a specific purpose. Over the years, a unique and useful line of ships, renowned for their innovative design, evolved on the Bay.
The Lady Maryland is a type of Chesapeake Bay schooner called a pungy. Pungies are descended from the Chesapeake pilot schooners of the 1700s. Pilot schooners were fast, maneuverable sailing vessels that transported bay pilot navigators to larger boats entering the unpredictable Bay channels. To attain superior speed and maneuverability, pilot schooners were built long and lean; light on the water and capable of carrying a lot of sail on their raked masts.
The speedy design of the pilot schooner was used and adapted in the late 1700s to make two types of fast, agile sailing vessels. A descendant of the pilot schooner was the famous Baltimore Clipper, built for war. The other descendant was a swift vessel built to carry perishable cargo instead of pilots and became known as the pungy.