Putting Lady Katie back on the water

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Dorchester Banner/Paul Clipper Scott Todd, captain of the Lady Katie, with his mother Kathryn Greig, Del. Addie Eckhardt and Councilman Tom Bradshaw at the re-launching party for the historic skipjack.

CAMBRIDGE — Scott Todd threw a “Relaunch Party” at Snappers restaurant last Friday for the historic  Lady Katie, a traditional Chesapeake skipjack that has been idle in Cambridge harbor for some years now. Todd purchased  Lady Katie a number of years ago, aware of its history and looking forward to restoring it for an oyster dredge in the Choptank. Like many great ideas, things didn’t go exactly to plan.
“The boat is 58 years old,” ‘Captain’ Todd told us, “We took it completely apart in 2003. The oysters had died by then, so we didn’t have much to catch, so the boat just sat around for about 8 years. Last year we took it back apart again and went through things, and now we plan on using it November 1st for dredging oysters in the Big Choptank River.”
The  Lady Katie has a long and rich history. “The boat was started in 1955 right here in Dorchester County, down Wingate by Bronza Parks, the famous boat builder,” Todd said. “He started the boat, and there were three of them built at the same time. The first two were sold, it’s not real clear if this one was sold or not (at the time). He didn’t finish it until the following year, and he kept it for himself.
“He then sold it to George Holly in Wingate and George Wheatly captained her for a lot of years. Then it was sold to Stanley Larrimore from Tilghman Island.”
Parks was the last builder of Chesapeake Bay skipjack sailing vessels, and  Lady Katie was the last skipjack Parks built, finishing it in 1956. Parks suffered a very odd death for a boatbuilder. In 1958, Parks was working on a skipjack-style sailboat for a client, a Willis Rowe of Silver Spring. During an argument about the cost of the project, Rowe drew a gun and shot Parks dead.
No such dispute clouds the boat’s history today, thank goodness. On hand for the event was Todd and his mother Kathryn Greig, Senate Delegate Addie Eckhardt, and County Councilman Tom Bradshaw, along with a small crowd of well-wishers.
Todd is looking forward to getting the  Lady Katie out onto the water again. “It’s going to be me and my crew (working the boat). We’re even going to have a female member of the crew!”

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Paul Clipper is the editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at pclipper@newszap.com.

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