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.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lessons for Shipwright Apprentices

Captain Marc, who is teaching our shipwright apprentices, is teaching the four different methods of making a pattern.

This is the popsicle stick method marking inboard & outboard edges of the missing margin board.

This is the spline stick method.

These are the offsets taken off the datum line at 6" increments.

Datum line with 6" incriments

Apprentices are lopping off the protruding plug tops.

Apprentices; Joe & Jenn are installing the last bit of Ednas' decking.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Professional Shipwright Apprentices: Where are they now? Part 7/Final

Mark Donohue – (2002 – 2004)

Learning to sail on a duckboat at the tender age of five, Mark Donohue spent his summers sailing in Bay Head and Mantoloking down the coast from his hometown of Short Hills, New Jersey. He continued to sail and race many different boats long before he knew how to build them – including Bluejays, Lightnings, M-scows, Lasers and Catboats. By the time he turned 13, Donohue was working at Johnson Brothers Boatworks in Point Pleasant, NJ, admiring the hand tools the old timers used to plank boats with and more.

It wasn’t until he landed a boatyard job during a semester off from the University of Vermont a few years later that Mark understood how much he loved working on boats. “There’s just something about being around boat shops and boat yards,” explains Donohue. “Sixteen years later, I haven’t left yet.”

Along that journey from 2002 to 2004, Donohue served as a shipwright and rigger apprentice at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. During that time, he worked on a variety of boats, including several privately-owned skipjacks and the Museum’s 1909 log-bottom crab dredger, Old Point. He came to love the traditional boats of the Bay and the people that worked its waters.

Restoration work on the 1925 Trumpy Sequoia and a 1951 Owens Cruiser for the Museum’s At Play on the Bay exhibit rounded out his Museum apprenticeship. “Learning from a master shipwright and a master rigger was a great experience,” reflects Donohue. “I gained skills that enabled me to grow as a person and as a boatbuilder. It was a great and influential part of my life which continues to this day.”

Since that time, Donohue’s work has taken him to several museums and restoration projects throughout the mid-Atlantic region. Working as a shipwright, rigger or caretaker, Donohue has worked at places like the Virginia Maritime Heritage Foundation, Sea Island Boatworks and the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Now living in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Mark is currently working through the Coastal Heritage Alliance as a rigger and shipwright on the skipjack Caleb W. Jones, which is currently berthed at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Boom Jaws

The boom jaws, clamped and ready to be pinned together.

 Bronze pins are used to attach the jaws to the boom.

The hardware has been cleaned up and is coated with galvanizing paint

Setting clench rings with a 3/4" socket.

Drifts are ready to be trimmed and peened over the clench rings.

Joe is peening the bronze drift rod to clench ring while Jennifer is using the backing iron.

Completed boom jaws

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cleats for Edna

The boat yard's shipwrights are making cleats for the Edna Lockwood, and while they are at it - teaching displays to share the craft with our visitors.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Professional Shipwright Apprentices: Where are they now? Part 6

Karnell Hillscan – (2003 – 2004)

Serving as the current museum technician for the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, Karnell Hillscan of San Francisco, California began at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in 2003 as an apprentice and finished his experience the next year as its AmeriCorps representative.

With a certificate from the Arques School of Traditional Boatbuilding in Sausalito, California, Hillscan soon became as much a teacher as a boatbuilder during his apprenticeship. He went from working on skipjacks and the Museum’s Old Point to teaching schoolchildren during field trips about small boats and leading participants and volunteers in the Apprentice for a Day program. As the AmeriCorps representative, he led a group of high school students in an after school program, where they built a railbird gunning skiff over a two-week period.

“Most of the boat shop tours with kids usually came to me,” recalls Hillscan, who considers his work managing volunteers as one of the most valuable experiences in his apprenticeship. “My training allowed me to get a job without a degree and opened many opportunities for me in my profession.”

Hillscan also experienced Hurricane Isabel in the life of a shipwright while at the Museum. “The apprentices lived nearby, so we were charged with checking the boats on the hour throughout the storm,” recalled Hillscan. “The water was over the pilings and the Rosie Parks was sinking.”

Rosie Parks is the Museum’s skipjack, and its sump pump wasn’t working due to a submerged battery. Doing what most shipwrights would do for one of their craft – Hillscan soon devised a plan to save the boat from sinking by using the battery out of his truck to run the pump until the storm subsided.

After his apprenticeship at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Hillscan spent some time traveling the world and running a Meals on Wheels program, which included managing a cadre of volunteers. He now works in the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park‘s boat shop and small craft department, maintaining and restoring more than 100 boats.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Professional Shipwright Apprentices: Where are they now? Part 5

Chris Sanders – (2008 – 2009)
Chris Sanders of Newport, Rhode Island, has carried his love of sailing vessels from a very young age. Living along the east coast his entire life, Sanders comes from a family of craftsmen. His grandfather was an accomplished carpenter, and many of his tools are used by Sanders today.

Back in 2008, however, Sanders had very little experience in woodworking and boatbuilding. So when he applied for the International Yacht Restoration School (IYRS) in Newport, Rhode Island, Sanders was encouraged by the school’s program director to gain some hands-on experience before entering the program.

Following this advice, Sanders traveled down the coast to the Chesapeake Bay, where he worked as an apprentice alongside the Museum’s Boat Yard Program Manager Dan Sutherland in building Vita, the 9-1/2’ tender for the 1888 racing yacht Elf.

Sanders valued the experience so much so that when he was accepted into IYRS two and a half weeks later, he decided to defer his school experience for one year, allowing him to stay on at the Museum until August 2009.

As a shipwright apprentice, Sanders worked on several projects, including removing and replacing the patent stern of the Museum’s bugeye, the Edna E. Lockwood. He also assisted Vessel Maintenance Manager Marc Barto with the day-to-day preservation of the Museum’s historic fleet of Chesapeake Bay boats.

“The greatest advantage I have is being taught by the best,” recalls Sanders, referring to the Museum’s four-member boat yard staff, who are all highly regarded in boatbuilding circles around the country. “I really value the proficiency with tools and the confidence I gained in working in the boatbuilding process.”

After his one-year apprenticeship, Sanders enrolled at IYRS in September 2009, where he continues today in his second year. He is pursuing a degree in proficiency and yacht restoration construction. Sanders expects to graduate from the school in June, 2011.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Watch a Video: Steaming & Bending Wood

Earlier today, we posted photos of volunteers and program participants in the AFAD Program steaming, then bending the wood. Check out the video:

Apprentice For a Day Public Boatbuilding Program: Steaming and Bending

This past Saturday, in the AFAD Program, volunteers and participants steamed and bent wood for the Rushton rowing skiff.
Model of the Rushton Rowing Skiff.

Homemade steam box.

Volunteers and program participants get into place to bend the wood and clamp it down.

Volunteer Mary Sue Treynelis tightens the clamps as the wood is curved.

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.”

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Deck Work Continues on Edna

The Museum's shipwright apprentices are gaining great skills to support their boatbuilding careers. The Museum only uses traditional boatbuilding techniques on our historic fleet of vessels. 

Each deck plank is sized differently, so measurements are noted and each plank must be custom milled in our boat shop before installation.

The width of each piece of decking varies to ensure a custom fit around the new hatch

Shipwright Apprentice Joe Green explains that each silicone bronze screw used to secure the deck wood to the beams are dipped in Dolfinite bedding compound before being drilled in.

 Dolfinite bedding compound is used because it doesn't harden or cure like epoxy, which gives the deck room to expand and contract with changing weather conditions.

The seams of the deck are staggered for strength and stability, as well as to reduce the risk of rot on the beams below if a leak were to occur.

The deck around the new mast partner begins to take shape. Douglas Fir is being used for the new deck.

The Museum's skipjack Rosie Parks can be seen in the background as Joe and Jenn install the new decking.

In traditional boatbuilding, each deck plank has a beveled edge to leave enough room for a caulking iron to drive cotton into the seams. The caulk bevel is 1/3 the thickness of the decking and 1/8" into the piece. After the cotton is driven in, seam compound will be used to finish the seal.

Professional Shipwright Apprentices: Where are they now? Part 3

Anne Needham – (2003 – 2004)
After graduating from the Northwest School for Wooden Boatbuilding in 2003, Anne Needham of Annapolis, Maryland, worked at the Museum as a shipwright apprentice from July 2003 to July 2004.

During that year, Needham worked on several Apprentice for a Day skiffs, as well as on other larger vessels. She worked on the bugeye Edna Lockwood’s pushboat re-engine and restored the planking and mast partner on a privately-owned skipjack.

“My one-year apprenticeship at the Museum gave me a lot of confidence in the skills learned at Northwest,” said Needham. “The exposure to a wide range of tools and techniques, plus the history and modern-day experience of boating on the Chesapeake has served me well in my chosen home and career.”

After taking a hiatus to help her brother open a bed & breakfast in Puerto Rico, Needham later went on to work at a boatyard in Annapolis, before transferring her boat carpentry skills into a career in home renovations, which she continues to work in today.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Edna's hatch trunk and a bung or two

Shipwright Apprentice Joe Green works to pry up some of Edna's deck in preparation for finishing off the deck up to the new hatch.
Shipwright Apprentices Jenn Kuhn and Joe Green, who both went to school on the west coast, are working together on the Edna Lockwood. The seams of the deck are staggered for several reasons, including reducing the risk of rotted wood underneath one continuous leaking seam.

Bung details - Edna Lockwood's hatch trunk. (a bung is a truncated cylindrical or conical closure to seal a container, such as a bottle, tube, or barrel. Unlike a lid which encloses a container from the outside without displacing the inner volume, a bung is partially inserted inside the container to act as a seal.)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Meet the Museum's Floating Fleet : Delaware Tug

The Delaware Tug was built in 1912 in Bethel, Delaware by William H. Smith. It is a product of Bethel's great age of wooden ship and boatbuilding at the beginning of the 19th century and, apart from the 1900 ram schooner Victory Chimes (formerly Edwin and Maud), may be the only survivor.

William H. Smith, a foreman at the Bethel Shipyard, built the small tug in a shed on the grounds of a cannery adjoining the shipyard. After her hull was completed, she was moved to the marine railway to have her gasoline engine installed and was then relaunched. Delaware hauled scows on Broad Creek, often laden with lumber, and towed ram schooners to and from Laurel. Occasionally she carried parties of young people to Sandy Hill on the Nanticoke River for the day. A partition behind the engine creates a small cabin with two benches and a stove. Two berths for the crew were located below the pilothouse.

Originally a brass engine telegraph system connected the pilothouse with the engine room. An early photograph of the tug shows she was painted white overall. In 1929, the tug was bought by James Ireland of Easton, Maryland, who was in partnership with John H. Bailey in a marine construction business. Later Bailey acquired sole interest in the tug and she became a common sight around the Upper Easter Shore, engaged in building bulkheads and docks until she was laid up in the late 1980s.

Delaware went through a number of engines in her life and presently has a Gray Marine 671 diesel. New frames and bottom planking have also been installed throughout her years at the Museum. Her cabin, however, retains the original tongue and groove siding and sash windows.

Delaware is a rare example of a typical early 20th century wooden river tug.