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Skipjack Martha Lewis Restoration

The Skipjack Martha Lewis was built in 1955 by Bronza Parks. Her sister ships, Lady Katie and Rosie Parks, were built in the yard alongside Martha. Parks built Martha for Captain James Lewis, who named the boat after his mother. She was fully restored in 1994 at Havre de Grace, MD under the direction of ship builder Allen Rawl. Martha is presently in the final stages of another complete restoration and is scheduled to return to service in Havre de Grace, MD by autumn 2020.

The Move from Baltimore to HdG
The Move from HdG to Cambridge

Restoration activity log:


1/15/21 - Richardson and CHC reps (Fockler, Taylor, Stroh) met to begin to iron out the details of the partnership and to set the schedule for continuing work on the project. MHAA funding is in the bank, allowing us to proceed.  


11/30/20 - CHC received word that the Richardson board voted in favor of pursuing a partnership arrangement with CHC for the final restoration and operation of Skipjack Martha Lewis.  Terms of that arrangement will be developed by the end of 2020.


10/30/20 - Formal partnership talks between CHC and Richardson began with a meeting of Jane Devlin, Jim Brighten, Karl Fockler, Dennis Taylor, and Brady Stroh at Richardson offices in Cambridge.  Various aspects of a functional relationship were discussed.  The partnership concept will be presented to the Richardson board.

9/15/20 - CHC board meets to discuss pursuing a partnership with the Richardson Maritime Museum in Cambridge.  The board voted in favor of a partnership.

Winter 2020 - Dennis Taylor achieved formal approval for the electrical plan.

Spring 2020 - Linda Read pursued various grants for the restoration project.  The MHAA grant was won and funds will be available in October 2020. The initial match requirement was waived due to the pandemic.


1/1/20  - Restoration is on hold for the time being.  New grant applications are being submitted in the hopes that work can resume by mid summer 2020.


3/1/19 - present: Aft and fore cabin rebuilds, structural member replacement, centerboard trunk repairs, new decking, steering servicing, and side planking are ongoing. New laminated mast construction is scheduled for early 2020. Electrical plan submitted to USCG by Dennis Taylor in November 2019 -- waiting for final approvals. Waiting for funding approval by board to order new sails and covers. Standing rigging and running rigging will commence in late winter 2020..


2/6/19: Karl, Dennis, and Brady go to Ruark Boatyard in Cambridge to discuss the scope of work for the final restoration project.  The USCG is contacted to set up a field visit to provide guidance on particular aspect of the project

1/11/19: Martha is hauled out and drydocked at Ruark Boatyard

1/8/19: Martha is towed to Ruark Boatworks in Cambridge by Capt. Marshall Wingate.  Left HdG at 0700 and arrived in Cambridge at 1715. Karl, Dennis and Tom were onboard.  Brady returned the crew to HdG via car.  Was a flawless move to Cambridge.


1/4-1/6/2019:  Preparations for planned tow to Cambridge, MD on 1/7/19. Work included loading the boom onto the deck.  Karl, Dennis, and Tom manhandled this task.

12/18:  Negotiations were initiated by Karl Fockler to enter a partership with the Richardson Marina Museum and Ruark Boatworks in Cambridge, MD.  An agreement was signed and the boat will be towed to Cambridge in early January.


3/18 - 12/18:  Buddy Anderson completed restoration of the push-boat and continued work on the decks and aft-cabin.  The pace of work was modest.  Dennis Taylor and CHC volunteers including Tom Carroll, Karl Fockler, and others assisted with work on the push-boat (mainly painting) and on Martha.  Scaffolding with tarping was erected to protect Martha from the elements.  Dennis and Tom maintained watch during this time period to make sure pumps were kept in working order.  Martha is still relatively dry, with pumps only coming on a few minutes per day.  


2/12/18: Dennis Taylor is assuming the day to day field supervision of the project. He met with Chris Scarlato and Brian Heimbaugh of ODEC to plan removal of he winder engine assembly.  ODEC will be restoring the engine, engine housing and the engine mounts at their shop.  This will occur in early March 2018


1/12/17: All work suspended for the winter.  The wood removed from the aft cabin was replaced with plywood for the winter.  All pumps are functioning properly.  Work to resume in March


11/8/17: Rafe Weber and Buddy Anderson of Havre de Grace Marine Center resumed restoration work in earnest this week.  The pencil sized leak in the starboard bow that has plagued Martha all summer was easily found and sealed.  Another small leak around the centerboard trunk is being similarly addressed.  The boat is now tight with pumps coming on only once or twice a day for only a minute or two each time.  All pumps on the boat are now working automatically with float switches restored and battery bank charged.  The dredge winder assembly has been unfastened and is ready for transport to ODEC for restoration. The main aft cabin is being deconstructed and compromised wood is being removed. There was slightly more rotten wood than expected but nothing that will affect the restoration plan.  As the weather gets colder Rafe will build a canopy over the push boat and begin work on it.  Things are moving along according to plan.  



11/6/17: Discovery Traveler bus was removed from the Water Street lot by salvager.


11/1/17: Martha was returned to a berth at Havre de Grace Marine Center where final restoration will proceed through spring of 2018. HdG Marine Center is now under contract to restore. decks, cabins, and the yawl (push) boat.


9/1/16-11/1/17: Restoration work was suspended pending procurement of funding.  During this period the boat was moved to a berth at Hutchins Park in Havre de Grace where she was tended to by a group of volunteers. She was checked almost daily. Bilge pumping and hull/deck salting continued throughout this period. The mast and boom were periodically checked by shipwright Rafe Weber and volunteers. 


8/19/16: A few stabilization tasks were completed by Rafe Weber (See Rafe's work log). Restoration work halted temporarily pending assessment of financial status of restoration fund.


8/12/16: Martha splashed by. United Crane and Rigging, HdG Marinas, and CHC volunteers. Al went well and Martha took on very little water. She took up very well. 


7/31/16: Hull restoration details completed. (See Rafe Weber's work log)


7/15/16: Bottom replanking completed and restoration of rotten tramsom wood begun. Topsides scraping continues.


6/1/16: Starboard side bottom planking begun by Rafe Weber and topsides deck paint continued by volunteers: Jenny Dunn, Lisa VanZant, Gary Bowen and son. Tom finishes boom and begins bowsprit work.


5/31/16: Dennis  and Tom continue mast, boom, and bowsprit surface prep started in April


5/31/16: Portside bottom planking and all forward staving completed by Rafe Weber and Buddy Anderson. Still needs fairing and caulking.


5/28/16: Topsides scraping continues with B Stroh and G Bowen and son


5/27/16: Topsides scraping started by B Stroh and J Dunn


5/14/16: Inside of hull cleaned and vacuumed by B Stroh and J Dunn


5/10/16: Picked up wood order at Old World in Centerville, MD. 323 board feet $2315. Stacked wood in shed at HdG Marine Center.


4/3016: Work continues on bottom planking.


4/20/16: Additional wood for bottom work is ordered from Joe Connor to be delivered the first week in May. Beginning to make arrangements for a crane to splash Martha. Chris Scarlato is helping with this.


4/15/16: Rafe Weber and Buddy Anderson continue replacing staves, cross-planks, and port side longitudinal stringers. Rafe's shipwright log provides the details.


3/9/16: Tidewater Marina in Havre de Grace with assistance from Havre de Grace Marine center, moved the mast, boom, bowsprit and other equipment from Hutchins Park to the Water Street jobsite. The Havre de Grace Marine Center crew began removing old planks and shaping new ones -- we have finally begun the preliminary restoration.


2/18/16: Pushboat and centerboard are transported from TYSC in Port Covington to Havre de Grace Marine Center. Tome's Landing Marina provided the trailers for the transport. Jeff Harris and Brady Stroh did the move.


2/12/16: Lumber for bottom planking was delivered to Havre de Grace Marine Center by Joe Connor at New World Trading Company. Rafe Weber checked the wood in and assessed its conditiom as excellent. 


1/13/16: Martha is transported from TYSC in Port Covington (Baltimore) to the restoration site at 649 Water Street in Havre de Grace, where she was drydocked with jackstands and cribbing. The pushboat and centerboard will be transported from Port Covington in the next few weeks. 


1/12/16: Martha secured and prepared for transport by CHC volunteers. Centerboard and pushboat detached from Martha and stored at TYSC until arrangements for transport are made.


1/11/16: Ballast, materials on deck, and other items off loaded by volunteers to meet weight limit for transport.


1/5/16: Transport from Port Covington to Havre de Grace finalized for 1/12/16


12/22/15: Havre de Grace restoration site secured at 649 Water Street


12/1/15: Havre de Grace Marine Center selected to do bottom restoration work.


10/27/15: Plans to move Martha to Havre de Grace via truck began. A restoration site is being secured along the waterfront.


10/26/15: Havre de Grace Marine Center is selected as contractor for bottom restoration.


9/30/15: Mast and boom were treated and repositioned by Dennis Taylor and Mitch Mitchell.


6/30/15: Space is provided by Havre de Grace Marine Center for storage of supplies and equipment.


4/1-30/15: Boom is repaired by Jim Knowles. This involved removing the aft 1/3 of the boom, shaping a new section, and attaching the new section using a "clothepin" scarf technique.


12/31/14: As of the end of 2014 Martha remains on the hard at Tidewater in Port Covington. No further restoration work has occurred.


10/31/14: Tidewater crews and Cindi Beane attempt second splash.  Peggy Sills stays with Martha on the evening of 11/1.  Four pumps run all weekend with a brief stoppage to assess the points of water inflow.  It is determined that Martha is still not taking up. She is hauled and blocked on Monday morning 11/2.  She remains on the hard.


10/26-31/14: Cindi Beane and others try to plug leakage areas with tar and seam compound.  Jim Knowles recommendation that additional bottom planks be replaced could not be carried out due to a lack of funds to pay for the work.


10/24/14: Centerboard installed and Martha splashed by Tidewater.  Massive volumes of water immediately.  Initially two large electric pumps are started to keep up with inflow.  B. Stroh stays with Martha evening of 10/24 to monitor swelling  process.  No progress overnight. Cindi Beane continues with monitoring and adds two more pumps on 10/25.  Ethan Wrede stays with Martha on evening of 10/25.  Still no progress on swelling. Cindi Beane stays with Martha evening of 10/26.  Still no progress.  Martha hauled and blocked on morning of 10/27.


10/22/14: Jim Knowles completes work started in August. Ethan preps bottom and sides for painting. Brady preps pushboat for painting and removes battery for charging.


9/14: Jim Knowles continues work started in August. Ethan caulks all new seams. 


8/14: Jim Knowles begins restoration of identified issues in hull: port side stringer replacement (aft of amidships); realignment of "sub-keel" around center board trunk area and aft; a number of port side side and bottom planks to be replaced as well as well as a number of staves forward and near the stem; removal and replacement of compromised wood on transom; replacement of a number of starboard side planks; replacement of a portion of the starboard side stringer aft of amidships; replacement of bobstay plates on stem; starboard bow bulwarks


7/14: Jim Knowles continued discovery of compromised wood in hull and began to plan restoration.  (add details)


6/1/14 to 7/15/14: new mast shaped by Jim Knowles at Hutchins Park. Boom moved to worksite.  Discovery made that boom will required clothe pin scarf to repair large crack. Allen Rawl assessed and recommend type of "fix" and wood to use.


2/??/14: Martha hauled


2/??/14: Coast Guard inspection. Full general inspection deferred until summer pending restoration activity.


1/15/14 to 3/15/14: Periodic check of pumps and salting of decks and hull


11/15/13: Bill Mylett and Brady Stroh transported Martha (without mast, boom, and bowsprit) to Tidewater at Port Covington. The cruise was uneventful. Boat was docked and secured on the outer pier at Tidewater.


07/15/13 to 10/15/13: Bill Mylett conducts discovery reconstruction of starboard deck area forward of the collision bulk head.  Extensive rotting was discovered in decking and some underlying support and structural members. Coast Guard on water inspection, scheduled for early August, has been deferred during "maintenance'" period. Bill is still assessing the the reconstruction strategy.  Boom was transported to Havre de Grace Marine Center where it is being stored. The bowsprit was also removed to facilitate additional discovery and stored at Hutchins Park. Discovery efforts progressed intermittently as funds and time allowed. All mast sections were removed from the boat as well.


06/2013: No work done - daily checks on Martha continue


05/2013: No work done - daily checks on Martha continue


04/2013: Decision was made to cancel the 2013 cruise season and devote this year to a major restoration.  Martha was returned to Havre de Grace and docked at Hutchins Park where the restoration work will take place. Defunct mast was loaded onto the deck and returned to HdG for disposition.

04/2013 - The mast rot was deemed irreparable and efforts to secure a new mast will begin.  The rot was extensive throughout the mast.  Unsalvagable.


03/11/13: Mike V and his crew finished the wood replacement project. 1st light coat of varnish was applied to the boom; 2nd coat of preservative was applied to the mast; seam compound was applied to bottom of pushboat; bad wood was cut out of starboard side of pushboat at the waterline near the bow; blocks on mast were prepped for painting; serious rot was discovered along scarf at base of the mast -- this will be restored by Mike V and will take about 2 weeks of work at an estimated cost of $3000.00. (Brady-6; Mac-6)


03/09/13: Began scraping bottom of Martha and the pushboat. Got most of the pushboat done and about two thirds of Martha's starboard side bottom. Got mast scraped and applied first coat of preservative. Sanded and prepped a few blocks for painting. (Brady-5; Ethan-5; Frank-3.5; Mac-4; Jonahan-3)


03/1-9/: Mike V's crew finishing wood replacement. Mac and Brady continue block restoration. (Mac-6; Brady-4)


02/14/13: Mast was unstepped. Mast and boom were blocked and are ready for preservation. Mike V and his crew continue building thr new port chine log and starboard bow staves. 


02/12/13: Mike V and his crew began to replace port side bow staves. Downrigged yawl boat. Loaded tools and materials for volunteer scraping and painting. Offloaded rigging. Mac repaired and painted blocks at home and Bruce restored nav sidelights at home. (Brady-4; Mac-8; Bruce 4)


02/06/13: Mike V and his crew finished removing wood on the port side to prepare for the new section of chine log. The new sections of chine log were brought onsite and final shaping took place. Bruce and Brady removed fasteners and Bruce started dowelling the holes. (Bruce-4; Brady-4)


01/30-31/13: Mike V's crew continued wood removal to expose chine log. (Brady-8)


01/29/13: Mike V and his two assistants began work on the port side chine log replacement and the starboard side bow stave replacement ordered by the CG. They got all of the external planking removed, exposing the section of chine log that will be replaced.  Bruce, Mac, and Brady remove items from the shrouds and mast in preparation for the unstepping of the mast: sidelights and mounting boards; jib sheet; several madt hoops; dredging "8" plates; pin rails. Left main halyard and flag halyard in place. Removed quarter lines from yawl boat. Off loaded several dock lines. (Bruce-6; Mac-6; Brady-6)


01/25/13: hauled, powerwashed, and blocked Martha. Downrigged lazyjacks (stowed offsite) and mainsheet (stowed over centerboard trunk). Removed all PFDs and stowed offsite. (Brady-8)


12/28/12: Moved Martha from outer floating dock to slip near lift wells. Rewinterized engine and checked over vessel. All's well. (Byshe, Brady)


12/22/12: Checked on Martha after heavy wind storm. All's well. Put additional bow line on as one showed significant chafing. (Brady)


12/1/2012: removed main/jib sails; released topping lift and secured for haul out. Off loaded equipment; down rigged, labeled and stowed mainsail and jib footlines, jib halyard and sheet, bundled jib lazy jacks, reef lines, and misc other lines, removed oyster boards and dredges. Cleaned out cabins and offloaded all oystering and education equipment and supplies. (Cole, Frank, Lisa, Bruce, Gerald, Cindi, Brady)


11/19/2012: moved Martha to Port Covington (Linda, Chuck, Ethan, Brady). Winterized push boat engine.


11/24/12: starboard bilge pump reconnected and new switch installed on main cabin panel (Cindi, Gerald)


11/16/2012: starboard bilge pump failed.  Replaced with new one.  Wiring and main switch in cabin failed and needs to be replaced.


11/6/2012: boat moved to Markels. (Hobbs, Bruce, Mac) Hobbs tuned rigging on the way. Had to bleed fuel lines on the way.


11/4/2012: winder engine servicing (R. Beane)


11/3/2012: oyster boards repaired and installed


10/12/2012: starboard bilge pump and float switch replaced


9/14/2012: jib patched and re-rigged (jib club and lazy jacks not attached)


9/11/2012: deck sweep and spider web removal; replacement of yawl boat bilge pump and float switch; yawl boat and float switch wiring and forward control switch serviced.


9/28/2012: cleaning; touch up painting; and prep for Labor Day weekend


9/1/2012: new port side quarter line installed on yawl boat


8/14/2012: Port fuel tank opened and cleaned; (awaiting gasket material to reassemble); deck and hull scrubbing; touch up paining; line whipping


7/31/2012: New boom lift blocks installed and line replaced; scrubbing; touch up painting; electric lines on starboard shroud fastened


7/17/2012: Decks scrubbed; touch up painting; hull scrubbed


7/10/2012:  Oil and filter changed (R. Beane); push boat battery terminals cleaned/fastened; decks scrubbed and cleaned;  touch up painting topside; some line whipping done. 


Many of the documents and drawings created when Martha was restored in 1993-94 have been scanned.  


These documents are stored in the cloud and are viewable here. Other information such as part descriptions and supplies will be added to provide a resource for maintenance activities. This is a work in progress.


  • Standards for Wooden Vessel Hull Maintenance

       (7-95): NVIC   (VIEW)  

  • Index of all USCG inspection circulars (VIEW)

  • 1994 Restoration photographs   (VIEW)

  • 1994 Restoration drawings  (VIEW)

Summary of large scale tasks to be completed:

  • Inspect all standing rigging for compliance with new stricter USGC standards

  • Restore long list of issues on decks and in cabins

  • Restore and service engines, pumps and electrical system

  • Get all safety and deck general items back in compliance with USCG rules

  • All standing and running rigging must be serviced, installed, and inspected

  • Prepare to restore USCG Certificate of Inspection. Martha's COI was revoked Sept 2014. This will require close coordination with USCG. A new stability test may or may not be required. USCG will guide us through the recertification process

  • Recruit and train crews. USCG will require more formal and rigorous training than has been done in the past. The drug testing program will also have to be revived.

Specific work items no specific order. 

Additional items have been added by Ruark.

  • fuel tanks need to be replaced

  • new mast must be fabricated

  • replace davit board

  • inspect standing rigging for new USCG standards

  • inspect and assess condition of all sails

  • battery bank needs to be secured and maintained

  • topsides deck restoration 

  • restore all running rigging

  • restore ballast racks and reinstall ballast

  • centerboard lift block needs to be replaced

  • standing rigging and mast stepping

  • centerboard metal strap is broken -- centerboard needs attention

  • yawl boat engine needs servicing 

  • need yawl boat quarter line capstans

  • starboard and port side pinrails need to be replaced on shrouds

  • replace/repair all mast hoops — will need some new ones

  • yawl boat umbilical inspection and servicing is needed

  • electrical inspection and servicing for lighting, pumps, engines

  • new electrical panel should be considered in main cabin

  • winder engine and housing to be restored by ODEC

  • fuel valve schematic and labeling needs to be done

  • taffrail "pin" needs to be re-inserted

  • need to have new sails and sail covers made

  • cabin interiors need to be restored  - fore and aft

  • complete fore and aft cabin restorations

  • inspect steering worm gear and service if needed

  • grey painted surfaces - need  repainting (stanchions. etc.)

  • mast boot and wedges need to be replaced

  • new fire extinguishers 

  • new life rings (large and small) must be procured

  • Inspect and replace defective PFDs

  • new VHF radio and depth sounder

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