Mystic Seaport - June 23-25, 2023
Come one, come all to celebrate Traditional Small Craft in the place where it was born!
Mystic Seaport Museum, WoodenBoat and the John Gardner Chapter of the TSCA are joining forces to sponsor the best ever small boat gathering.
The Seaport Boathouse Livery will be available to all at no extra charge. Go try out working replicas of the original small craft from the Museum’s Small Craft Collection. To celebrate breaking ground on the new Small Craft Hall, we will be honoring replicas of the originals. If you have one at home, bring it and share its story. If yours is in the tradition of the original, say of more modern materials, but honors the essence of the original, that is OK, even encouraged in this age of trailer sailing and garage storage.
Included will be special tours of the Small Craft Collection. Go visit your favorites then come
back and take a replica for a ride. Observing an original or replica is all well and good but there
is only one way to see how it feels. If you can’t find one but really like it, pick up a set of plans from the Collections Research Center and bring back the new boat next year to celebrate the Grand Opening of the new Small Craft Hall.
Activities will be going on all weekend. WoodenBoat is sponsoring a speaker’s series series
which is open to all participants. Shipwrights at the Seaport Shipyard will be demonstrating
skills in real time, making chips fly. Those demonstrations, too, are included. And throughout
the weekend members of the John Gardner Chapter will be offering rides in their dories or, if
permission is asked, in their own private boats.
We use our boats, not just look at them. Morning rows both up the river to the source of the
mighty Mystic River as well as down-river to our favorite sandbar beach kick off the days. Late
afternoons are reserved for sailing. Let’s keep the River busy.
Workshop presentations will include building stories, skills explained (make your own rope
fender?) or how to reef your Catboat sail, scandalize your Spritsail or add some new control
lines to your existing rig. Come to Australia Beach just behind the John Gardner Boat Shop on
campus and check in at the Workshop Tent or, better yet, visit the Seaport’s website and sign
up in advance. Launch off our beach or nearby ramps, some of which are carry-in.
Reach out and let us know what skill you would like to bring, boat you would like to talk about
or which activity interests you. We look forward to seeing you there.
Some sights from the 30th Annual WoodenBoat Show and Small Craft Workshop held at Mystic Seaport on June 24-26, 2022.
A clutch of members (Bill Rutherford, Dan Nelson, Phil Behney, and I) met about a month ago
to develop a plan for getting the White Dory back in the water. She suffered from several
egregious, but localized, spots of rot, but little else. And it was clear she had good, and
perhaps professionally-built bones: well-selected materials, tight joints, good riveting, wellfared planking. A boat like this deserved another chance.
The question was how. To replace rotted planks would involve major surgery on the floor at
the sternpost, replacing both garboards, and the starboard side riser planks. In short, a pretty
extensive process that would result in the removal of a lot of good material along with the
bad. Some proposed another approach, one while less traditional, but would be more
expeditious: focused treatment of rot, careful deployment of Dutchmen and thickened epoxy,
and rebuilding of lost non-structural material with epoxy putty where needed. This not only
would require less concentrated time, but would also get the boat swimming again perhaps
before winter. While most of us hummed and hawed about how to proceed, Dan quietly
picked up a chisel, and started ripping out hull rot. Soon, we all followed suit, and the choice
was made: repair the rot and get her swimming again.
So that’s what we’ve been doing: JGTSCA newbies: myself, Cookie Wierski, and Ian Bradley,
along with guidance by Bill Rutherford—set to scraping and treating the rot spots three weeks
a month ago. I’ll talk about details on the treatment process at the next regular meeting, but
as of this writing, the White Dory is coming quickly back to life. The interior rot spots have
been tended to, the interior has been primed and top coated, the removable brightwork has
been stripped and refinished, and floor boards have been laid out and cut. We flipped her
over about a week back, and turned attention to the exterior: replacing the shoe, refilling the
false bottom seems, sanding and filling exterior rot spots. This weekend will see priming and
painting completed, allowing us to flip her back right side up to finish the rubrail and fixed thwart brightwork.
As happy as I am to see White Dory coming back to life, I’m more thrilled to see students and
visitors stop in during every work session to see what’s going on. Folks are just curious about
the project and enjoy seeing people using the shop. I hope there are more projects on-deck
for the winter to keep this energy going: I’ve got a few in mind, and Cookie may have a fun
project, too, to pitch to the Chapter. Regardless, every day folks are in the shop turns into a
good day for me.
By: Matthew McKenzie
Established in 1793, Lowell’s Boat Shop is the oldest operating boat shop in America.
To learn more about the history of Lowell's Boat Shop and their ongoing boat building projects, visit the Lowell's Boat Shop website.
The JGTSCA Chapter is building the Good Little Skiff 15, a Pete Culler design row/sailing boat. The Mystic Seaport Boathouse has the 13 1/2 ft version of this boat, the “Waldo Howland".The project will start with a full scale lofting. On Friday, Apr 19, we will setup a lofting table at the APBH. The actual lofting will start at 9:00 am on Saturday, April 20.
If you want to help with the project or observe you are always welcome. Along with updates at the JGTSCA monthly meetings I will be sending out reports on progress and upcoming activities. If you are interested in adding your name to the email list please send me your email. Brian Cooper, 2019 GLS Project Manager
This section includes news and articles about our projects and activities.