Over the past 400 years, distinctive types of boats were developed for seafood harvesting and shipping on the Bay.
Native Americans made the first dugout canoe from a hollowed-out log. The earliest English boat builders, called "boatwrights", shaped 3-to-7 large logs and fastened them together to build simple, seaworthy boats like the bateau, log canoe, and the brogan.
As the demand for oysters grew in the 1900's, larger boats were built for longer range and bigger loads. Three designs of this period were the bugeye, the pungy and the skipjack. The skipjack was of frame and plank construction which was easier and less costly than log construction.
Nearly 1,000 skipjacks worked the Bay. The decline of oysters due to disease, pollution and over-harvesting and the relatively short life of untended skipjacks led to a rapid decline in their numbers. Today less than a handful are still active. They represent the last fleet of working sailboats in America.
Smaller, engine-powered workboats, known as "deadrise", are what most watermen operate today as they harvest oysters, clams and crabs. Hand-built wooden workboats are being replaced by molded fiberglass hulls which cost more but are easier to maintain.