Sigsbee Facts

Skipjack – A Chesapeake Bay sailing craft designed and built to dredge for oysters. Skipjacks typically have a flat or v-shaped bottom and a shallow draft. The one self-tending jib and large triangular mainsail make these vessels easy to sail with a small crew. Today, skipjacks represent the last remaining commercial sailing fleet in the nation.

SIGSBEE History – Originally built in 1901, the Sigsbee served in the oystering fleet for 88 years. She is named for Charles Sigsbee, the commanding officer aboard the Battleship MAINE, which was sunk in Havana harbor at the beginning of the Spanish-American War. SIGSBEE is notable for the fact that in the early 1980s, it became the first skipjack captained by a woman, Leigh Hunteman, of St. Michaels, MD

In 1990, the Sigsbee became disabled near the Key Bridge during the annual Chesapeake Appreciation Days Skipjack Race. Douglas West, the owner of Sigsbee at that time, then sold the boat to the Living Classrooms Foundation. Students and shipwrights in the Save Our Skipjacks Program spent 10 months reconstructing the vessel in order to carry passengers and offer school programs. The vessel was completely rebuilt and the only original parts of the boat remaining are the mast step, steering wheel, and some hardware. Today, Sigsbee sails as part of the Living Classrooms Foundation’s educational fleet serving thousands of students per year. She runs from April through November and travels the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays from Virginia to Philadelphia, PA.

  • LENGTH: 75 feet overall, 50 feet on deck
  • BEAM (width): 17 feet
  • DRAFT (the distance between the waterline and the lowest part of the keel): 3 feet
  • WEIGHT: 25 gross tons
  • POWER: 150 horsepower Cummins diesel engine (courtesy of Cummins Power Systems of Glen Burnie, MD)