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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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by Lawrence E. Babits, 2006

Sharpies were late-nineteenth-century workboats that, according to tradition, were introduced into North Carolina from Long Island Sound by George Ives around 1876. Used in dredging oysters and hauling freight, the sharpie had an upright stem, a flat bottom, a low freeboard, and a round stern; local modifications added closed decking and a cabin. Its rig was initially two-masted with leg-of-mutton sails, but local North Carolina sharpies carried a variety of rigs. The cheap and easily built planked sharpie supplanted the log periauger as a workboat, in part because trees large enough for dugout construction were no longer available and sawn planks were in relative abundance. After 1920 some sharpies were converted to gasoline power, although this modification did not prove entirely satisfactory. Eventually, motorized skiffs and deadrise workboats replaced the sharpie.


Michael B. Alford, Traditional Work Boats of North Carolina (1990).

William C. Fleetwood Jr., Tidecraft (1995).

Reuel B. Parker, The Sharpie Book (1994).

Additional Resources:

Chapelle, Howard I. "The North Carolina Sharpie." Contributions From The Museum Of History And Technology: Paper 25: The Migrations of an American Boat Type. Smithsonian Institution. 2009. (accessed August 22, 2012).

Alford, M. B. and McNeill, C. R. "Sailing the North Carolina Sharpie," Woodenboat 13. 1976. p.68-74.

Wilde-Ramsing, Mark and Alford, Michael B. North Carolina Small Craft Historical Context: An Underwater Archaeology Unit Management Plan. North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. January 1990.  (accessed August 22, 2012).