Historically used for oyster dredging and long a part of Chesapeake Bay heritage, the skipjack is the official boat of Maryland, but only about a dozen are left in the state.
One of them is the Martha Lewis. Moored in Havre de Grace's Frank J. Hutchins Park, the skipjack has played host to everything from school trips to margarita cruises out on the bay.
Since last March, however, the 59-year-old vessel has been out of commission.
An inspection turned up rot in the mast, planks and bottom boards, and Martha Lewis was parked for good.
The non-profit Chesapeake Heritage Conservancy, which is based in Havre de Grace and has overseen the boat since 1994, has a new board of directors and a new fundraising effort that it hopes will get Martha Lewis up and sailing again, just in time for its 60th anniversary next year.
"It's part of Maryland history and culture. It's a Maryland state boat and there's so few around," Cynthia Beane, executive director of the Chesapeake Heritage Conservancy, said. "Now it needs a nip and a tuck."
Last season was the first that Martha Lewis has been unable to hold passengers, she said.
"We were all set to re-set the mast and that's when we discovered the rot," Beane said. "We had a wonderful season [planned] and everything just came to a halt. It was kind of devastating."
Repairing the boat will cost between $30,000 and $50,000, Beane said.
"They weren't built to really last," Beane said about skipjacks. "The were built to last the life of the waterman."
The conservancy has raised and already spent about $10,000 on repairs, which included a five-state search for a loblolly pine or Douglas fir, the only trees suitable for being made into a mast, according to the "traditional method of Chesapeake Bay shipwrighting," Beane explained in a news release.
The skipjack ultimately got its mast thanks to a donation from Kenneth Pusey, head of Paul W. Jones Lumber Company in Snow Hill on the Eastern Shore, the Conservancy announced earlier this month.
A 75-foot loblolly trunk was set aside and was awaiting transport from the Eastern Shore, according to a press release sent March 17.
The tree came from a farm in Accomack County, Va., and its transport presented "a real challenge," according to the release.
The repairs are being made in Baltimore, where the Martha Lewis has been since January, Beane said.