The Independence Seaport Museum sits on the banks of the Delaware River in the heart of downtown Philadelphia. Like most museums, it preserves artifacts of the past, but the Independence Seaport Museum is also preserving skills. It has an active boatshop, Workshop on the Water, that is bringing the traditions of wooden boat building to the city’s youth. Among the programs at the shop is SAILOR—Science and Arts Innovative Learning on the River—for middle and high-school students. Groups of 10 to 14 students build small boats learning STEM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and the boats go to the museum’s community boating program fleet.
David MacLean purchased the plans for the Old Sailing Peapod from the Smithsonian and used the lines as the starting point for his tender. At 15’ 3”, the original was a bigger boat than he required; he opted for an overall length of 13’ 6”. He also decided to strip-plank the boat to save on the weight of the original lapstrake construction.
Steve Judson of Annapolis, Maryland, was thinking seriously about building a Scamp. His wife had given him the plans for Christmas and he had thought highly of the Scamp’s performance during a test sail. But he had his heart set on a boat with a mizzen so he could more easily heave to. He did a bit of research and discovered that John Welsford had designed another boat with a hull very much like that of the Scamp, but longer and equipped with a mizzen.
At the ramp, GYPSY SOUL slipped into the water for the first time. Scotty and Juilio hadn’t sailed a lug rig before, but hauled in the main sheet and took off. “We peeled off into a close-hauled beat, sailed across on a beat, and back on a run. Upwind she is a filly! On a reach you could pull a water-skier. What wonderful big-block power those sails gather. Downwind, stable, light on the tiller, a wonderful gurgle of chines underwater.” His mother, who had never seen a boat sail, said, “When the wind took that boat, the way it moved was like magic.”
ruce Holaday got an early start with boating. His father ordered a $50 pram from the Sears & Roebuck catalog and turned Bruce loose with the boat on a clear-water lake in Indiana. Bruce spent his boyhood summers in the company of ducks, turtles, muskrats, and fish. The experience of independence and of being . . .
After moving ashore from living aboard a schooner, and acquiring a wife and a small son, Michael Colfer of Bellingham, Washington, needed a smaller boat. He built a Nutshell pram and a Good Little Skiff, but then wanted a boat capable of taking on some more challenging weather in the more exposed areas around the San Juan Islands.
Richard Nissen lives in a houseboat on the Thames, and naturally he has gathered a collection of small boats for taking advantage of the river that flows past his home. He has an 1890s lapstrake single racing shell that he restored, a double, and a catamaran single—all for sculling—a stitch-and-glue canoe that he and . . .
Hannah Dumser, at the age of 10, passed her Michigan boating license test on her first try. It was quite an achievement, as the state’s boater education course covers some 61 topics, ranging from tying knots to dealing with an onboard fire. Having earned her boating safety certificate for the waters near her family’s summer . . .
“My name is Thatcher Unfried. I have grown up in a family that thinks building boats is normal.” Thatcher is a 14-year-old eighth grader who lives in Redding, Connecticut, with his parents, brother, and sister. Even before the kids were born, his parents built a canoe in the living room, so they were all indoctrinated . . .
arry Dusharm grew up with boats, logging a lot of hours paddling and rowing. The passion for being on the water never left him, and when the obligations of a career and family allowed, he built a 17′ stitch-and-glue light dory and made a circumnavigation of sorts of northern New York State. He rowed south . . .