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Claud W. Somers is a veteran two-sail bateau or skipjack that was used for oyster dredging in Virginia and Maryland waters and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Register of Historic Places. It is one of the few skipjacks remaining in operational condition on Chesapeake Bay.
Commissioned by Edward Thomas Somers, she was built in 1911 by Tom Young at Young’s Creek near the settlement known as Clam, Virginia, just north of Onancock and named after Edward’s son. In 1983, after a long career of oyster dredging, Alfred Garey Lambert of Towson, MD purchased the Claud W. Somers and labored over the next 17 years rebuilding and restoring the vessel. Lambert wanted the historic skipjack to go to a museum at his death. His children, Caroline Lambert Benson and Robert Lambert, selected the Reedville Fishermen’s Museum as the new steward of Somers. In May 2000 they donated the vessel as a memorial to honor their father and his dedication to the preservation of Claud W. Somers. From spring 2000 to fall 2001, museum volunteers donating thousands of labor hours and along with the staff at Cockrell’s Marine Railway restored the vessel to full sailing form. Additionally, when the Claud W. Somers was restored by the museum, it was upgraded to meet U.S. Coast Guard requirements for a passenger vessel so that visitors to the museum could experience sailing on a historic working sailing vessel.
Please check our our Events tab for information regarding our 2023 sails!
The skipjack Claud W. Somers, of the Reedville Fishermen's Museum, sails south to return to the Rappahannock River and the Turkey Shoot Regatta after several months in yard.
The Rappahannock Amateur Radio Association will put the skipjack Claud Somers “on the air” each June and makes worldwide contacts with other museum ships and individuals participating in this fun HAM radio event.
Members will be operating an amateur station adjacent to the Somers at the Reedville Fishermen's Museum.
Over 73 museum ships from around the world have registered for this event. Included are battleships, submarines, aircraft carriers, cargo ships, Coast Guard cutters, cruisers, destroyers, lightships, icebreakers, minesweepers, nuclear merchant vessel, paddle steamer, railroad car ferry, schooner, and others. Guests touring the museum are welcome to “listen in” and may even get to talk with crews from ships from around the globe. This is an opportunity to witness worldwide communications honoring the service of museum ships.
The skipjack Claud W. Somers joined the RFM fleet in 2000/2001 as part of the permanent collection.
The Claud W. Somers is sailed and maintained entirely by museum volunteers. If you have an interest in sailing, rigging, woodworking, administration, or maintaining engine and mechanical systems, there is a place for you on the crew. If you would like to become a member of the crew and assist with sailing and maintaining the Somers, please contact the museum office. No experience is required as we will train you.
Join us for a sail down Cockrell’s Creek to the Great Wicomico River and Chesapeake Bay. Observe first-hand the wildlife, watermen, and the beautiful shorelines and waters while learning about the history of the area, skipjacks, oysters, and the environment. If you are so inclined, help sail the vessel by taking the helm or tending the sails or join us for one of our special adventure sails.
Claud W. Somers is certified by the U.S. Coast Guard to carry up to 20 passengers, in addition to her crew, and is captained by a U.S. Coast Guard licensed master and a fully drug tested crew that is trained in CPR and First Aid. Please watch this page for upcoming scheduled cruises or contact the museum office if you would like to schedule a custom charter.
Easy Bell by Kevin Pittman:
Photos provided by the RFM