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Workers Raise Historic Skipjack

November 6, 1999

TILGHMAN ISLAND, Md. (AP) _ A 113-year-old historic skipjack, a tall flat-bottomed boat used to dredge oyster beds, was raised Friday from the bottom of a creek off the Chesapeake Bay where it had sank in a sudden storm days earlier.

After a nine-hour effort, a marine construction crew pulled the Rebecca T. Ruark from 20 feet of water where the bay meets the creek.

``This is my whole life here, and I thought that for a while the first night I might have lost her. I thought she might have washed to pieces, but she didn’t, she’s a strong boat,″ said owner Wade Murphy.

A barge and a work crew of 17, including a diver, motored down the Chesapeake from Curtis Bay near Baltimore to raise the skipjack.

``We basically pulled this rig off another job to accommodate the captain,″ said Eamonn McGeady, president of Martin G. Imbach Inc., which provided the equipment to raise the skipjack. ``It’s a case of all of us river rats sticking together.″

The wooden sailboat, built in 1886, is the oldest working skipjack on the bay. It is a tourist attraction on the days it isn’t used to dredge for oysters.

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