Stanley Norman


Updated 20 November 2023:
Stanley Norman is a Coast Guard inspected passenger vessel owned for years by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation where she offered on-the-water educational programs for students. She was sold to private owners and is now on the Miles River on Maryland's Eastern Shore, part of the Inn at Perry Cabin's fleet of boats.

Stanley Norman, 30 March 2009

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Skipjack Stanley Norman was built in 1902 in Salisbury, Maryland, by Otis Lloyd. He named the boat after his two sons, Stanley and Norman. Beyond that, we have come across few references to her early years. One undated clipping likely from the late 1940s or early 1950s shows her captain as Alfred Reynold and homeport Wingate. 

By the early 1960s, she was owned by Willis J. Windsor, Sr. She appears in rosters of boats for races at Solomons in 1962 with Windsor as her owner and homeport Wingate, and in the rosters for Deal Island in 1963 and Chesapeake Appreciation Days in 1970 with Windsor as her captain. He apparently sold Stanley Norman to Paul (Junior) Benton around 1966, so may still have been acting as captain for Benton after that, at least at the Sandy Point race, or that roster may be inaccurate.

About 1970, Benton sold the boat to Bob Daniels, who learned to dredge from his father, "Daddy Art" Daniels, the legendary captain of City of Crisfield. Bob Daniels dredged with Stanley Norman for five years. He raced her once, coming in second, but marine surveyor Fred Hechlinger called her a "slow boat," saying she "never seemed to get out of her own way." In 1975, Daniels gave up dredging, went into preaching, and sold Stanley Norman to Ed Farley.

Ed rebuilt the boat, a process that was "extremely well documented," according to Stanley Norman's listing in the National Register of Historic Places, which she was awarded in 1985. He dredged her out of Tilghman Island and St. Michaels. James Michener sailed on her while doing research for his book, Chesapeake, published in 1978.

In the spring after dredging season, he worked with the state in "spatting," dredging spat-covered oyster shell in productive beds and transferring it to depleted areas. Ed also established a relationship with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and became the first working waterman to take student groups out on the water for educational trips.

In 1990, Ed sold the boat to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and bought H. M. Krentz. The Foundation bought Stanley Norman to serve as a floating classroom, teaching students about oysters, watermen, and Bay-related historical and environmental issues, operating primarily from Annapolis. Retired from dredging, she served the organization for thirty years.

But not without incident. In 2003, she was damaged by a fire. While tied up at the Annapolis City Dock and connected to shore power, a short in the main electrical control panel caused a fire in her cabin. No one was on board, but a passerby fortunately saw the smoke and called the fire department, which contained the fire before it could cause major damage.

However, by that time, Stanley Norman was becoming due for another overhaul. The restoration took place in 2005–2006 under the guidance of master shipwright Mike Vlahovich and his organization, Coastal Heritage Alliance. The Alliance's shipwrights, apprentices and volunteers replaced nearly everything on the hull from the rubrails up, passing along valuable skills in the process.

Fifteen years later, though, Stanley Norman was again in need of work, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation decided to retire her from its fleet. She was purchased in 2021 by Shawn Ridgley, who had been one of her captains at CBF, and Mike Gosman, former owner of Skipjack Lady Helen. They refastened the boat's bottom and replaced her mast then put her to work taking passengers out from her new port in Queenstown.

A year later, in May 2022, Stanley Norman was purchased by the Inn at Perry Cabin on the Miles River in St. Michaels where she continues to sail as a passenger vessel.

About her trailboards:

Thanks to retired surgeon and model boat maker Edward Thieler, the last half-century of Stanley Norman's trailboard history is unusually well documented. He recalled that in 1972, Ed Farley saw Dewey Webster replacing the trailboards after he had repaired and repainted them, having probably carved those boards at an earlier date. They are displayed in Annapolis at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

In 1975, Farley repaired the boards and had them gold-leafed, then in 2000 Thieler carved new ones for the boat from Longleaf Yellow Pine. These were the first he carved, and he later worked on boards and figureheads—carving, repairing or repainting—for other boats and skipjacks, including Thomas Clyde, Hilda M. Willing, Lady Katie, Nellie L. Byrd and Rebecca T. Ruark. Thieler repainted Stanley Norman's trailboards in 2011, Winslow Womack repainted them in 2017, and Thieler again repaired and repainted them in 2021. Now retired to Cape Cod, the extensive documentation for the work he did for each of the boats is held by the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.

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