Making sawdust again – apprenticing at Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum

As my regular readers know (you know who you three are), I am longer on boat building desire than I am on facilities and time to actually do it. Ergo, I blog… Crabbing skiff in progressThat all changed today, however, and will again three out of the next four weekends. Courtesy of a thoughtful Christmas gift from Mrs. Chine bLog, I am spending four days in the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s Apprentice for a Day program. This is the perfect deal for someone like me. I get to head out to St. Michaels, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and spend a day in a working traditional boat shop guided by the museum’s boatwright staff. It was great, needless to say.

Crabbing skiff lines plan
Click on image to see lines drawing

The current project is a 17ish foot crabbing skiff, which looks like it will be a beautiful and solid boat. She is being built to lines taken off by Chapelle in his invaluable surveys of traditional American craft. I arrived to find the hull still upside-down, with planking in progress. One pair of fellow apprentices set to work on a day of fun with bevels, creating the forward bottom planking from cedar stock. I headed aft…


The bungs for the bolts on the skeg still stood proud, so my first task was to bring them flush. The saw plus a long sander with course grit took them down fairly quickly, leaving me to spend most of the day working on the centerboard trunk. We took the king and queen posts out of a lovely piece of white oak and then began bringing the side of the trunk out of a rough-cut white cedar board. What an amazing piece of wood we had to work with. The plans call for finishing the interior of the boat in oil, and this trunk is going to be gorgeous, between this cedar and the oak. And while the cedar smells great, I am a big sucker for the smell of oak – Mmm mmm mmm.

Being there also allowed me to browse a couple other “goodies” in the shop. Here is one of the museum’s signature skiffs, complete with a to-die-for bow (I am a real breasthook man).

SkiffSkiff bow

Kayak There was also this nice skin-on-frame kayak. Note the rope used for the cockpit combing – that’s a nice look I haven’t seen before.

Location: St. Michaels, MD, USA

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