Welcome to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum's Boatyard Blog, where all things related to Chesapeake Bay Boats are discussed. Follow the Museum's progress on historic Chesapeake boat restoration projects, watch wooden boats being built from scratch in our Apprentice For a Day program, and meet the dedicated staff and volunteers working hard to give you the experience of Chesapeake Bay history while preserving traditional Chesapeake Bay boat building techniques. Make sure to join us as a follower of this blog so you will be notified of new posts, and make comments on anything you see on the blog.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Professional Shipwright Apprentices: Where are they now? Part 4

Photo by Nikki Davis
Don MacLeod –
(2003 – 2006)
Arriving one week after Hurricane Isabel wreaked havoc on the East Coast in 2003, Don MacLeod of Bar Harbor, Maine had his work cut out for him during his shipwright apprenticeship at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. His work was impressive, leading him to a full-time position with the Museum in which he continues today.

“With the Museum’s grounds almost entirely under water during the storm, you can imagine the volume or work we were facing,” recalls MacLeod. “It was all-hands-on-deck, and I spent most of my first days at the Museum stabilizing the boats and getting the buildings and grounds cleaned up.”

MacLeod had interviewed for the highly sought after shipwright apprentice position while working at York Marine’s boat yard in Rockland, Maine. Prior to that, he earned his wooden boatbuilding certificate and diploma from America’s oldest boatbuilding school, The Boat School at Washington County Vocational Technical School in Eastport, Maine.

While a Museum apprentice, MacLeod’s work included helping replace frames on the skipjack Fannie Dougherty. He also worked with volunteers and participants in the Apprentice for a Day program, building flat-bottom rowing and sailing skiffs as well as other small craft.

With a knack for transferring skills into other areas, MacLeod also volunteered to help build many of the exhibits in the Museum’s At Play on the Bay building. The experience meant extending his apprenticeship over three years.

When his apprenticeship came to an end in 2006, MacLeod jumped at the opportunity to continue working at the Museum when the boat yard announced it needed some help.

Landing the job as the Museum’s vessel maintenance assistant, MacLeod has since spent each day inspecting the condition of the Museum’s boats – insuring bilge pumps are working, lines are tied and the boats are in overall good shape. Part of his job also means interacting with the public and helping to train other apprentices in the program.

“I’ve probably worked with more than a dozen apprentices since 2006,” explains MacLeod. “And since I’m like most boatbuilders who tend to be solitary, working with the public forces me to stretch my skills and interact with people.”

Now living in Royal Oak, Maryland, MacLeod continues to take pride in the traditions of boatbuilding and representing the value of craftsmanship and work. “It might not feel like it when you’re in the bilge all day,” he commented. “But there really is a sense of glory and romance in building wooden boats.”

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