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.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

My Summer Job at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum

by Tommy Finton

Working on the Potomac River Dory Boat.

            When considering potential jobs this summer, I wanted to choose something atypical. I didn’t desire the usual yogurt shop or busboy position that places a teenager in a boring environment that ultimately has no effect on him/her.

            But before I thought of the job, I needed to think of the town. I live in Bethesda, but I spend my summers in St. Michaels. Although I spend my summers here, I have never spent as much time here as I have this summer. During the usual summer I would spend some extended weekends on the Eastern Shore, but this year I wanted to change that. I wanted to spend my whole summer in a place that meant so much to me—a place where I learned to swim, to ride a bike, and where I ate my first blue crab.
            It took some time to figure out which job I wanted. I thought the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum would be the best place because I like to be active, so the boat shop seemed like a good bet. After various emails and telephone calls, I got the job as a boat shop assistant and prepared for the summer. Just one week after my high school graduation, I drove over to St. Michaels and settled in.

            To say I had no clue what I was getting myself into is quite an understatement. I expected to sand and paint for a few months.

Don’t get me wrong, I have done that many times, but there is so much more to working at the Museum than meets the eye. If I was told when I started that I would do some male modeling and drive a Buyboat down the Chesapeake Bay, I would have thought that person was crazy.

I have experienced the summer of a lifetime and it is all due to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. I worked under the tutelage of Vessel Maintenance Manager Mike Gorman for the past two-and-a-half months, and he and fellow shipwrights India Gilham-Westerman and Jenn Kuhn welcomed me to their team. We became not only colleagues, but friends as well.

The most wonderful part of my experience this summer was that I learned a lot.  I couldn’t name most parts of a boat before June. I knew maybe a handful of tools, most likely the ones that every person knows. I used those tools on projects with which I was given a lot of responsibilities. I took side planks off of the Potomac River Dory and I placed log rails on the skipjack Rosie Parks. During those moments, I felt like a respected colleague, not a teenage intern. It has been a blast working at the Museum this summer.

For the first time in my life, I feel like I have become a true part of the St. Michaels community. Although I am about to leave, I know that when I return, I will have friends at the Museum. So, I would like to thank everyone who helped make my last summer before college one to remember, especially everyone in the boat shop, staff and volunteers as well. Because of everyone, it’s been one heck of a summer. 

Helping to ready the boats for the Sept. 1 Charity Boat Auction.

I even sang a sea chantey while aboard the Edna E. Lockwood for everyone.

Modeling some clothes for Chesapeake Bay Outfitters in St. Michaels.

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