A Deadrise crab scrape is a traditional Chesapeake workboat that was used in the shallow waters off Tangier and Smith Islands to harvesting the soft shell blue crab. These open boats featured a low freeboard, a broad beam, and a shallow V-bottom, characteristics suited to harvesting crabs using a crab scrape, a type of dredge. A sharply rising bow and a box transom help handle the bay’s choppy waters. This model is of a Deadrise crab scrape; It is built to 1:16 scale and is L-23” x W-8” x H-9”. The model and everything in it are handmade and built to as close to the 1:16 scale as possible.
The Chesapeake Bay Deadrise, official boat of the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the modern fishing boat used in the Chesapeake Bay. Watermen use these boats year round for harvesting all types of marine life: crabs, oysters, clams, rockfish (striped bass), eels, ect. Traditionally wooden hulled, the Deadrise is characterized by a sharp V bow that quickly becomes a flat V shape moving aft along the bottom of the hull. These boats tend to have a small cabin on the forward of the boat with a large open cockpit and work area. “Deadrise” refers to the line rising upward horizontally from the keel rabbet (the point where the top of the keel connects to the hull) to the chine (or sideboards). It rises on each side of the keel in a straight line, or “dead rise,” creating the flat V shape of the bottom of the hull. The bottom of the hull is planked in a herring bone pattern with planks running diagonally from keel to chine. The sides are planked longitudinally. As a result it is both useful in shallows and very forgiving when the Bay turns rough. Typically, the hull is 35-45 feet long. Originally equipped with extremely small marine motors, their propulsion systems were replaced with more powerful automobile engines and finally with large, high-torque producing diesel engines. Nowadays, you’d have a difficult time finding a deadrise commercially built the old way. Most of the boats are fiberglass, a few are cold-molded wood and fewer still are aluminum.
I currently have three different types of Deadrise boat models, however all are built to the same 1:16 scale.
This square stern Deadrise model is L-31” x W-8.5” x H-19”. The square stern Deadrise was traditionally used to harvest crabs during the summer months.
This round stern Deadrise is the same size as the square stern but, unlike the other two Deadrise models, it is very basic with no extra details. Most Deadrise boats were adjusted depending on the season and primary harvest.
This round square Deadrise model is built to the same 1:16 scale but is larger than the other two. The round stern Deadrise was traditionally used to harvest oysters during the winter months. The detailing on this model is immense, from the extrensive rigging in the pulling system and the full oyster bushels to the cabin window and door that open and close.
The Skipjack is sloop-rigged boat, with a sharply raked mast and extremely long boom (typically the same length as the deck of the boat) and is typically 40 to 50 feet in length. As typical in regional practice, the bow features a curving longhead placard board under the bowsprit, with carved and painted trailboards. The mainsail is ordinarily triangular, though gaff rigged examples were built. The jib is self-tending and mounted on a bowsprit. This sail plan affords the power needed to pull the dredge, particularly in light winds, while at the same time minimizing the crew required to handle the boat. The hull is wooden and V-shaped, with a hard chine and a square stern. In order to provide a stable platform when dredging, skipjacks have very low freeboard and a wide beam (averaging one third the length on deck). A centerboard is mounted in lieu of a keel. The mast is hewn from a single log, with two stays on either side, without spreaders; it is stepped towards the bow of the boat, with a small cabin.
This skipjack was the first boat model I every created; It took me eight months to complete it. Everything in or on this model is handmade and as close to scale as possible. The scale I used for this model is 1:24 and it is roughly L-30” x W-8” x H-36”. Please pay close attention the details of the rigging and deck.
The skiff is a small boat traditionally used in coastal or river craft used for leisure or fishing and have a one-person or small crew. Many children living on the Bay developed their fledgling boating sails rowing around the Chesapeake in skiffs, spending summers fishing and crabbing. Skiffs were also used by watermen to get to areas unassailable by larger ships because they were too narrow and/or shallow.
My skiff models are all rather simple; they are all built to the same 1:12 scale and can be completed in 2-3 days. For an example of a more detailed skiff, please see the ‘Other Boats’ page of this site.
I built a couple of skiffs for a guy living on the west coast who grew up here in Southern Maryland. He has fond memories of the summer days he and his brother spent on the water in a wooden skiff rented from Quade’s store in Bushwood, MD.
Upon receiving the models, he had this to say:
“They are well beyond my fondest hopes and bring a golden age before my very eyes.”