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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, January 30, 2013

Docents Paul Carroll and Lloyd Devigne started volunteering as CBMM docents years ago. They conducted the first tours in 2013 for the American Auctioneers & Appraisers and the Auctioneers Association of Maryland. The groups were enjoying a weekend at the St. Michael's Harbor Inn & Spa while exploring St. Michaels. They pick a different venue each year for their meetings. A few have been on the Eastern Shore, but not in St. Michaels. For some the area is all waiting to explore.

We did a fair circuit of the CBMM 18 acre campus, including the boat shop where Jenn Kuhn has volunteers and Apprentice for a Day visitors building a replica of the 1920 Ghost skiff. (See the Star Democrat article dated 27 January 2013). Our visitors didn't start talking fast to sell off CBMM's fabulous artifacts. A few will be auctioning off decoys and guns & other items in the not too distant future. They left with more stories and information about the Chesapeake to add to their repertoire.


Lloyd Devigne (in blue) and Paul Carroll (in green) wait in the  CBMM store for  our visitors. These two docents have given hundreds of tours & adapt their dialog for each group.

Linda & Richard Lowry of Westminster, Maryland have enjoyed many visits to CBMM. This was unique for three reasons. First, the other auctioneers were seeing the Eastern Shore or St. Michaels. Second, Richard fondly remembers sailing in to CBMM before the Hooper Strait Lighthouse was added in 1966. Third and more importantly, they became great grandparents & had to drive back to see their newborn descendent for the first time, arriving back at the Inn in the middle of the night to finish sharing the event with their colleagues. Mia is beautiful and a new joy in their lives.

The docents ask some basic questions to gauge what these particular visitors want to see  and hear about on our 18 acre campus.  There are so many stories to tell in a short time.
The flyway description is a fine way to begin to understand the Chesapeake Bay region.

Punt guns are familiar to some of these visitors.

Hunters really did get into these "coffins" in the sink boxes to go after water fowl.

Oysters are brought up in tongs during this cold season. Getting a few off the dock at Waterman's Wharf is simpler than trying to bring bushels back to the packing house to make a living.

Lynne Zink, President of the Auctioneers of Maryland ( in the black coat) is the international Bid Calling Champion. She's  on  the deck of the 1951 Owens Six-Sleeper Express. Lia Kvatum (in a warm grey jacket) is the 2013 Bid Calling Champion for Maryland.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Deckhouse and Monkey Rails

The Rosie Parks restoration gang made much headway on the skipjack's deckhouse (or doghouse as it is sometimes referred to) prior to the holidays. Then we ate too many brownies, and way too many cookies. Work slowed considerably, but the new year brought a new apprentice, Eric Hervol, and we are now back in full swing. Hopefully our shiny new cabin and fancy new monkey rails speak for themselves.

Shipwright apprentice Shane and our high school intern Johnny pound a 1/2" galvanized rod to tie together the Douglas Fir strakes of the deckhouse. A strake is an individual board or system of boards that composes the side of the deckhouse

Three strakes down, one to go. The rough openings of the window and companionway hatch are formed into the sides rather than cut afterward.

The individual cabin-side strakes meet at the corners with a half-lapped joint. A portion of each strake is removed to interlock with the remaining portion of the other strake, similiar to a dovetail joint. This builds strength and stability into the cabin's design.


Similar to the forward hatch, an oak ledger is attached to the cabin sides for deck beam bearing, and mortised with carlin notches. Volunteer Cliff inspects while Shane marks for a carlin. Carlins are short beams that run perpendicularly to the cambered deck beams.

Close up shot of carlin with routed bead on bottom and fastener hole at top.

Beams, carlins, and vertical corner posts at the companionway in place and ready for the cabin top strakes.

Cabin top strakes in progress. Several strakes on each side are tapered or "coopered" like a barrel to form the trapezoidal shape of the cabin top. Always remember...nothing is square on a boat!

On with the sealer. Two coats and she'll be nice and shiny--and protected for the winter, prior to spring painting.

The monkey rail is a low railing around the aft half of the boat, abaft of the roller knees. We first laid 1/8 luan pattern stock over the existing log rail and then trimmed it to shape with a pattern making bit in a pin router. Next we laid out our scarfs in the patterns, and then transferred them to our stock.

In this shot, the two portions of rail at the aft corner of the boat are taped and ready for "Sika-flex," a phenomenally tenacious, pervasive, ubiquitous adhesive caulk. They will be joined with (2) 1/4" bolts at each scarf. 


Here, "space invaders" block the monkey rail up off of the log rail 6", allowing for drilling and installing 1/2" galvanized rod with clinch rings. The wood spacer blocks happen to be shaped like the infernal aliens from a  fantastic 1980's video game. The rod is then peened over creating a head (a 3 day process for volunteer Mike Corliss) that fits into an indentation in the clinch ring. It is effectively a homemade bolt. 

Shane drills through the monkey rail and the log rail while Special Project Manager Marc Barto gives the drill bit "the evil eye" checking for plumb.

The rod is driven through the clinch ring, and then into a piece of 3/4" pipe. After the spacer blocks are removed, the pipe holds the monkey rail off of the log rail. 


Close up shot of rod and pipe. To remove the spacer, twist the leg up, and pound it out with a hammer.

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Volunteers Mike and Cliff pounded down the rail the last 3/4" and the rail was complete.

The fruits of our labor. Monkey rails in. Deckhouse in progress. And built just like Bronza Parks intended for her to be built for his brother, Captain Orville Parks, in 1955.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

AFAD begins work on Ghost

Hi all! Sorry we've been MIA since November -- things have slowed down a bit in the Boatyard and then the holidays came. But we're back now and we've made quite a bit of progress.

Boatyard Program Manager Jenn Kuhn reports participants in the Museum's Apprentice for a Day (AFAD) public boatbuilding program have begun work building a replica of the deadrise bateau skiff Ghost.
Built circa 1916-1920 in Shadyside, Maryland by Captain Charles Edward Leatherbury, the 15’9” x 5’10” skiff is noted for its herringbone planking and sharp deadrise increasing at the bow and stern.

AFAD participants began the process by taking the lines off the historic skiff. They will continue step-by-step on select Saturdays and Sundays through May, 2013, with drop-in and scheduled participants welcomed. The new boat will be planked in cedar and decked in sassafras, with frames of oak. Most of her other structural members will be constructed of white oak, with the forefoot made up of “chunks” with the grain parallel to the herringbone planking.  

A single, 146-square-foot leg-of-mutton sail will be created at the museum during the program, and will later be carried on a raked mast.  

Donated to CBMM in 1966 by Mrs. Milton Offutt, Ghost sailed the Severn River extensively until WWII, and later traveled with the bugeye Richard J. Vetra to log canoe races and other regattas along with log canoes Island Bird and Magic. More information about the rebuild and CBMM’s public boatbuilding program can be found online at www.cbmm.org

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Stay tuned for updates on Rosie and other historic vessels.