SKIPJACK FOR HIRE: You can tour Baltimore's harbor aboard an array of vessels these days, but none is more authentically "Chesapeake Bay" than the Minnie V.
When it gets cold, say, from October through April, the Minnie V is still a working oyster boat -- one of only 20 remaining skipjacks that have plied the bay for oysters for years.
But in these lazy days of summer, the boat's work is narrated, 90-minute tours of the Patapsco River. The Minnie V leaves the Inner Harbor from the amphitheater area between Harborplace's pavilions most days.
Tuesdays through Fridays, tours depart at noon and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, the tours start at 11 a.m. and continue every two hours. On Tuesday and Thursday evenings, you can hear a lecturer from the Maryland Historical Society.
Another authentic oyster boat, the Half Shell, gives the same tour at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The Half Shell is an oyster "buy boat" -- to which skipjack crews sell their catches on the open water.
The Minnie V is owned by the city of Baltimore and managed by the Maryland Historical Society, with programs operated by Ocean World Institute Inc. Information, fares: 522-4214.