Capt. John B that helped to reduce both of these costs, essentially a larger version of the 16’-25’ “bateaus” used by watermen in the southern regions of the Bay. They were dubbed “skipjacks,” though why these beefed-up bateaus should be named for a kind of tuna, I cannot say. With its simpler sloop rig, the skipjack could be handled by 5-6 men instead of 8-10 on a bugeye. Although smaller and single-masted, the skipjack’s large jib and huge leg-of-mutton mainsail provided enough power to haul two dredges. A s a n adde d b onu s, t he y wer e quicker and cheaper to build. The supply of logs big enough for hulls had been exhausted, so skipjacks were planked, with v-shaped (deadrise) hulls. John B quickly adapted to the new market demand. In 1896, he built his first single-masted dredgeboat, the Two Sisters, and quickly followed her with two more: Ragamuffin and Noadie North. Gladys and Agnes were launched in 1898, vessels described by some writers as one-masted bugeyes, but watermen insist that “if it only has one mast, it can’t be a bugeye.” John B designed his vessels by first carving models of them, a technique used by builders in the days before computer-modeling. Because boats tend to be symmetrical, only one side of the hull needed to be
worked out, so they carved “halfhull” models. (This is not unlike the cowboy who decided to buy a single spur rather than a pair, figuring if he could get one side of the horse moving, the other side would probably come along, too.) Working in miniature, John B explored the variations in hull design he thought would improve the vessel’s speed, handling, stability, and (for dredgers) drawing power. Once satisfied with the design, the lines were taken from the model and transferred to a full-scale lofting table. Several of John B’s half-hull models still exist. The one pictured here is the Agnes.
Half-hull model of the Agnes. Both business and family were g row i ng. In 1898, A mel ia pre sented him with daughter number two, Rosella. Their third daughter, Barbara, was born in 1901, as John B finished up work on Emma A. Faulkner, the last bugeye he would build. She also was the largest vessel he ever built ~ a whopping 72’ at the water line, 80’ overall.
November 2014 Tidewater Times