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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Some Memories of Allen's Dock- Tom Doherty

Hi Pete,

I read in the blog that you were seeking some stories on Allen's Dock, which was owned and run by my Mom's Uncle Ruby McAnney for many many years. I remember when I was very young, my Dad Ernie Doherty kept his white clinker built 18' Lyman runabout there tied up next to it. Dad would take my brothers and I out fishing often thru the season, always departing from Allen's Dock.

Lyman runabout at Allens Dock in the late 1960s. (Win Salmon's photo courtesy of Shirley Whealton.)

A few of the "etched into my head" type memories of times at Allen's Dock include;

1) The time that Uncle Ruby (Shown on the right pumping gas) asked our family if our Basset Hound Barney knew how to swim.... leading to our reply that we weren't sure... which led to him just picking up that dog and tossing him into the water! Fortunately, that dog did know how to swim.

2) The time Uncle Ruby asked for our help with moving all the store's contents up onto the 2nd floor because a giant storm was coming and most likely the 1st floor of the store would soon be flooded.

3) The amazement I had over how Uncle Ruby et. al. were able to jack up those big boats and move them nearly anywhere they wanted to using the oldest broken down truck that I ever did see.

4) The time I "returned" to Allen's Dock after I'd purchased the big old wooden Chesapeake Bay Skipjack "Ada Fears" and somehow sailed and was towed at times to the vicinity of this area, finally sailing across my home waters of the Great Bay past some March loons out there in the cold weather, then sailing and limping on up the Bass River to finally arrive at Allen's Dock, completing my solo journey northward from Yorktown, VA, albeit I benefitted from one crew member Bob Crowell who helped out during the Delaware Bay portion of the journey... where we had to put in under emergency SINKING conditions into Fortescue harbor, (assisted by some very steady folks of the Coast Guard at their main rescue base as well as by some helicopter pilots who were kind enough to hover over the entrance ot the harbor during our time of great need when all hell had broken loose and we did not have the benefit of navigational aides since it was mid March and they had not yet been put out there), greeted by the fire company there with not only their big loud sounding sirens blasting, but also their most wonderful powerful pumps to quickly pump out the hull so it would not sink), which fortunately was a harbor I was familiar with having as a kid fished a few times out of that harbor with my Dad and his Uncle George Caskey, whose big chicken farm in Cherry Hill, was purchased and torn down so that the new Cherry Hill High School East school could be built there, which is where my brother John, Dave, and I.... as well as a son or two of the owners of Viking Yachts, attended).

Though the new owner of Allen's Dock whose name escapes me [Moderator's note: That would be George McGeoch.], had no slips to rent that would fit my 53' spar length 12 ton oyster dredge skipjack sloop, and it would not be practical for me to rent space along his gas dock where I'd tied up temporarily, it was GREAT fun for me to be able tie up there for one night, kind of a homecoming for me actually, and so... the next day... despite broken down engine, I somehow coasted over to the other side of the river where I was able to arrange for slip space at the Bass River Marina, which is now known as Viking Yacht Marina. After considerable time spent with detailed debugging of the old skipjack's cranky Perkins Elmer 40hp diesel engine, its random "cut out" problems during high wave rocking events, were finally traced to some bad fittings at the ends of the fuel lines that seemed tight, but were not actually tight, and to a questionable fuel pump as well. So, New Gretna participated by providing some space in its waters to my work of past toward preserving a bit of our marine history, in the form of keeping that old wooden oyster dredge boat, alive, floating, and running well. Sadly after a few years of enjoying recreational sailing it on these local waters with my dog Winkie and others, the Tuckerton Seaport Museum folks, did not take up my offer to sell it to them on very good terms, so it was sold on eBay to a Captain from the Chesapeake Bay area, and now is being used for good purposes by him in the vicinity of Rockland, MD, near where it was built in Oxford, MD by Applegarth Boatyards in '68, and near the waters where it was used for a decade to actually dredge oysters by one of its commercial owners.

Tom Doherty

The "Ada Fears" skipjack tied to Scotts Marina in Chance, MD near Deal Island, the historical home of many many rare skipjack oyster dredge boats, some of which were used to dredge oysters in Jersey's waters too, long ago. Only 20 or so of these vessels still floating. They are listed as endangered artifacts somewhere on National Historic Registry. (Photo courtesy of Tom Doherty.)

The "Ada Fears" sailing in Great Bay with tent on deck and my friend Tim Cunningham and his son Devin being towed behind it as shark bait! (Photo courtesy of Tom Doherty.)


  1. In Tom's post he mentioned the old delapidated truck that my father used around the boatyard. That truck was a 1937 Chevy towtruck that he bought from Atlantic City Electric Co. I dont know when he bought it, but I can remember back to the early '50s and it was there then. It was used until my fathers death in 1972 and was still there when we sold Allen's Dock in 1973. It had no brakes(it either rolled to a stop or you had to throw a block under a wheel)and you had to start it from under the hood because everthing had either rusted or fallen off. Even so , this truck was indispenseable. It was a real workhorse. Each fall my father would haul out and store about eighty boats. These boats were hauled on one of three railways, jacked up and placed on oak planks with pipe rollers and rolled onto skids. The reverse was done in the spring when it was time to launch the boats. All this was done with the little old 37 Chevy.
    Several years ago a good friend of mine,Frank Beykirch, had a painting of Allen's Dock done for me. Parked right in the parking lot is the old 37 Chevy.

  2. Jim,

    I believe I may have a photo of Ruby's old truck or, at least, a photo of a portion of the truck. I don't know enough about trucks to tell the make and year. If I can find it, I'll post it tomorrow on the blog.

    See if you can take a digital photo of the Frank Beykirch painting and email it to me so I can post it on the blog. If you are not able to do that, let me know, and I'll stop by with my camera . . . as long as the coffee is on.

    Pete S.

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