Jolly Dolphin (Three-Sail Bateau)


Updated 18 May 2024:
Jolly Dolphin is a three-sail bateau built as a recreational vessel and is privately owned. Berthed on the Magothy River in Maryland, she sails the Chesapeake Bay and often may be seen at Bay skipjack and schooner events.

Jolly Dolphin
Jolly Dolphin, 24 September 2016

More Photos (2007-2016)

More Photos (2016-)


Jolly Dolphin is a three-sail bateau built by James B. "Mr. Jim" Richardson at his Cambridge, Maryland, boatyard on LeCompte Creek in 1958. Three-sail bateaux are basically two-masted skipjacks, primarily built as pleasure vessels, as was Jolly Dolphin. She was built for a doctor Mick and his family of four from Delaware.

It is believed that her name came from a character in a favorite book of the owner's children, entitled Nautical Ned by Clare Randolph.

Dr. Mick owned the boat until 1964, when she was bought by Russell Simon, who owned her for ten years. Simon worked for DuPont in Delaware, and during that time, she may have been on the Delaware River or on Worton Creek in Maryland. Capt. Simon reportedly did not sail the boat much and not at all after his father died. Most of Jolly Dolphin ended up back at the Richardson boatyard, the stripped-down boat tied to a tree fifty feet from Mr. Jim's house. Simon had the running rigging, sails, steering gear and all the rest in his barn.

The pieces were gathered together by Jolly Dolphin's next owner, Emil DelConte, in 1974. He rebuilt the steering gear, which probably dates to the early 1900s, once belonging to another unknown vessel. It originally had controlled a spade rudder, hung below the hull and colloquially pronounced "spud," but was later modified to control a transom-hung rudder such as the one on Jolly Dolphin. DelConte refurbished and reassembled the rusted gear that he had received in pieces, remanufacturing some of the parts.

For a quarter century, DelConte kept the boat on LeCompte Creek on the Choptank River and on Worton Creek on the upper Chesapeake Bay, but in 2000, gave Jolly Dolphin to one of Mr. Jim's sons-in-law. He stabilized her enough to keep her alive and sold her that year to Capt. Denny Berg, an old tugboat captain from St. Michaels.

In 2004, Jolly Dolphin went to a new owner who moved her ashore at Wikander's Marine Services on Wicomico Creek outside of Salisbury. By 2006, she had been abandoned, and the boatyard took ownership and refloated her.

After seeing an ad for Jolly Dolphin in April 2007, Capt. Jack Zuraw, a Baltimore-area architect, stopped by to take a look at her "and I couldn't talk myself out of it." He bought her in July and took her to her new home on the Magothy River before taking her back down the Chesapeake Bay to the Richardson Maritime Museum's Ruark Boatworks in Cambridge for an extensive restoration. With the help of the museum's volunteers, he spent nearly three years, from early 2008 to December 2010, replacing her bottom and much of her side planking, inner and outer stem, and some of the deck beams. She also received a new oak transom, centerboard and rudder. In February 2011, she finally returned to her Magothy River berth where her restoration would be completed.

Since then, Capt. Zuraw has been using Jolly Dolphin to provide traditional sailing experiences for community outreach, STEM programs for middle and high school students, and educational trips for conservationists and Maryland history enthusiasts. She also participates in special events throughout the Bay.

Please help keep this information up to date by submitting news or corrected facts about any of these boats and letting us know of skipjacks not yet included on this site.