Francis R. Goddard, captain of prolific southern Maryland skipjack builder, Francis R. Goddard, of Piney Point, Md., died July 13.

Goddard built over 150 boats in his lifetime, but he is best known for the two skipjacks he built. In 1979, he built the 56-foot sailing skipjack Dee of St. Mary (which today sails from the Calvert Marine Museum) and in 1984 the 56-foot Skipjack Francois Connie.

He also has the distinction of having built the last commercial buyboat in the Bay. It was built in 1989 and named Papa Francis. Goddard built the boat for his own use and used it to purchase and plant seed oysters.

He started building boats when he was 10 years old. He asked his father if he would buy him a canoe and when his father said, “Go build it yourself”, he did.

“My dad couldn’t drive a nail in and I don’t think he thought I could either,” Goddard said in an interview at his home and shipyard in Piney Point in 2010. built this 16 foot canoe in dad’s stripping room (tobacco barn).Goddard’s dad was in the oyster business and owned a tobacco farm in St. Mary’s County, Maryland.

“My dad had just built a new pickling room in the barn. I knocked the new pine boards off the sides of the barn and used them in my skiff,” he said.

Goddard’s grandfather played an important role in the life of young Francis. He was a builder of tobacco barns but occasionally built a skiff. “Grandpop was strictly a (tobacco) barn builder. He oystered it. Everyone did that when the price was good and there were plenty of oysters. But when he was between the barns and the oyster season was over, he would build an old canoe to sell or use himself. Grandpop has always loved me. I often stayed with him because he lived right on the water on the St. Georges River, not far from where I live now. I think I picked up some of his ways.

In 2010, at the age of 78, Goddard built himself a new boat to go and dredge for oysters. He named it after his cat Tomcat. This one was straight and ugly compared to most of his boats. “Everyone asked me, ‘Why did you build the Matou so straight and flat-bottomed’ – like what’s wrong with me. Well, I said, ‘I’m not building it for you. I’m building it for Francis. I built it straight because it’s flat bottomed and if I want to cross the bay and it gets rough it will beat the hell out of me but it won’t come apart. A straight-sided boat is stronger than a flared (sided) boat,” he said.

And how can you question that?

Goddard leaves behind four of his five children, 11 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren.

larry chown