History is being resurrected under the tall pines in Francis Goddard's yard near the mouth of the Potomac.
Goddard is completing construction of a skipjack, a beautiful working sailboat to ply the Chesapeake Bay for oysters in winter.
The Dee of St. Mary's is rising oyster white and sturdy in a bed of pine needles.
Shortly after noon this Sunday she is destined to roll down the ramp at Swann's pier, 83 feet from bowsprit to stern, 19 feet abeam, the first new skipjack on the bay in more than two decades.
Many never dreamed another skipjack would be built. Now with Goddard's achivement there is talk of a skipjack revival.
Goddard has been a boat builder all his life but he'd never turned a hand to a sailboat before. He's never sailed one, either. Nor has the man who commissioned Dee, waterman Jackie Russell.
Russell is a dreamer. For 20 years he's watched skipjacks working the oyster beds near his home turf at the mouth of the Patuxent River. They took the lion's share of the oysters. He thought, "Why not me?'
A number of old skipjacks still work the bay, some dating back as far as the turn of the century. Russell kept his eyes open to buy one.
He even went searching on the Eastern Shore one summer, seeeking out skipjack skippers to talk to.
"One was in Brazil and another one was in New Mexico,' he said. "I knew they must be making some money."
So Russell, who has a bachelor's degree in government from the University of Maryland, decided to build one himself. His only problem: "I can't build a birdbox right. I knew she'd be one pretty craft if I tried to build her."
He had known Goddard all his life. He knew that Goodard's workboats seldom leaked. "I knew if I could get Francis to do it, he'd build me a fine boat."
Goddard said yes, and on May 14 the keel was laid.
"We weren't thinking of preserving a tradition at all," Russell said last weekend. "We just wanted to build a boat for the boat's sake, and for a fellow to be able to do something he's always wanted to do."
Before they began, they cast about for information on skipjack construction and even came up with some complicated plans. Goddard and Russell made several trips to te Eastern Shore, where skipjack captains offered their guidance and showed the newcomers around their boats.
Goddard didn't waste much time on talk. "He crawled down in the hold just like a rat," said Russell.
When it came time to build, the plans were tossed aside and Goddard worked by "the rack of the eye."
At last there emerged a pencil line on a chunk of plywood. Then another. Then a third. His plans were these three scratchings showing the rudimentary fair lines of a boat's outline.
Russell's skipjack is going to cost in excess of $70,000 when it's done. The hull, topsides and cabin work are all complete now, and on Saturday Goddard was laying on the first coat of bottom paint. He'll pick up the 72-foot mast and 66-foot boom sometime this week and have her rigged out and ready to work by the end of January.
Then comes the hard part.
Russell knows the water and he knows how to dredge oysters. But a month and a half ago he went for an hour's ride on the skipjack Lady Katie out of Tilghman Island. And that was the first hour he'd ever sent on a sailboat.
Russell is 36 years old. Goddard is 47. They are a strange pair to be resurrecting a bay art and tradition.
Both tried at one point in their lives to give up the Bay.
When Russell went off to university he was breaking away. He did it, he says, because he liked studying. But while he was at Maryland he paid his way from the water.He lived on an old bay boat tied up under the Morgantown Bridge, and twice a week he took her out oystering.
Nine years ago Goddard put away his tools and said he'd never build another boat. He moved to Florida where he started a seafood trucking business, hauling crabs from the Gulf to Baltimore.
Four years later he came back to Piney Point and dusted off the boat building gear.
The launching of the Dee of St. Mary's is scheduled for shortly after noon on Sunday, when the tide is up. It will be accompanied by an oyster scald and beer fest at Swann's General Store, next to the boat ramp.
There's an open invitation to the launch.
Piney Point is about 85 miles from Washington, via Rte. 5 past Leonardtown to Callaway and south on Rte. 249 to the river.
"Sure, we'd like everyone to come," said Russell. "We're only going to do this thing once."