the Maggie s. myers
Historic Delaware Bay Oyster Schooner
The Maggie S. Myers is believed to be the oldest, continuously-working oyster schooner under sail in the United States. The historic Delaware Bay oyster schooner has never been out of commission. Her captain, Thumper, and crew work her nearly daily on the bay dredging for conch, blue crabs and oysters. She is living history.
The Maggie S. Myers is owned by my Bowers Beach, Del., friends, Frank “Thumper” Eicherly IV and his wife Jean Friend. They bought the Maggie in 1998 when she was about to be scuttled. The moment they saw her, Jean said, “It was love at first sight.” Since then Thumper and Jean have devotedly invested tens of thousands of dollars into her restoration.
The Maggie was built as a two-masted Delaware Bay oyster-dredge schooner in Bridgeton, N.J., and commissioned in 1893. She is 50 feet long and 18 feet wide. The 24.62 ton schooner can carry her weight in oysters. Her masts were removed when she was motorized in the 1940s. She is listed on the National Historic Register.
When the Maggie was built, below deck she had four berths and a woodstove for cooking. She and her crew would stay out dredging the bay all week, then sail to Philadelphia with oysters piled up to wheelhouse windows, unload their catch and be home to spend the weekend with their families.
“She’s low to the water and dredges by hand,” Thumper rhapsodizes. “She turns on a song, like a snow goose flying around in the air.” I can tell you his claim is true; I piloted her briefly up the serpentine Cohansey River in New Jersey at sunrise that morning in 2004 on the way to the boatyard to restore her mast.
The last I heard, recently, the Maggie was at the boatyard having her second mast restored.
Here is a link to an in-depth story I wrote about the Maggie, published under my Carol Child byline in the Delmarva Quarterly, “The Low Whistle of the Wind.” This story provides a link to the boatyard where you can see stunning photos of the Maggie’s restoration.