“Why, my young friend, it’s the only thing! Why, there’s nothing…simply nothing, quite so much worth doing, as messing about in boats. Simply messing…about in boats.”
–Kenneth Grahame, Wind in the Willows
There doesn’t seem to be a better quote to describe the wondrous feeling a person gets when they get into a small boat. Sure, some visitors of the Boathouse at Mystic Seaport may have a little fear or anxiety over hopping into what appears to be a very tippy vessel. WE can’t blame you for that, but we sure do encourage you to try it out!
June 6-7 marked a very important weekend in the small craft world. John Gardner Small Craft Workshop weekend has long been a tradition at the Museum. After a year hiatus, it returned in full force. Owners and admirers of small craft joined together for a weekend of education, fun in boats and chatter. In one location, visitors were able to find home-builds, well known boat builders and people representing other maritime museums and non-profit organizations.
Saturday, participants launched their boats, donned their name tags and began what proved to be a fantastic weekend. Presentations were given by Museum friends – old and new – including David Niels’ talk about paddle-making, Ben Fuller’s presentation about “What to bring (and not bring) on a boat” and Mark Starr’s demonstration of the electronic measuring device, EDM, which takes accurate measurements of a boat and makes a drawing on a computer. This technology is quite significant to Mystic Seaport due to its use on the Charles W. Morgan and other restoration work being done here at the Museum.
All day Saturday, participants of the workshop were able to use Boathouse boats, as well as the vessels of other participants in order to get a feel for the unique designs available. It wasn’t surprising to find quite a few participants taking lines (measurements) off of some of the boats due to their interest in building one of their own.
Sunday morning, without a doubt, was the best part of the weekend. Beginning at 7 a.m., approximately 15 boats began a trip downriver to Mason’s Island. Both rowing and sailing, participants were able to enjoy the beautiful morning and each others’ company while using the boats exactly for what they are meant for — use in the water.
Overall, being able to speak with many of the participants can be seen as the best part of the weekend. The passion and love for small craft was echoed throughout everyone’s actions and words.
Might we offer a suggestion? Take a chance to learn what Toad was saying to Mole in the Wind in the Willows and come down to the Boathouse at Mystic Seaport. Rent your own small traditional boat and begin to row or sail away on a new adventure.
Blog post written by dedicated Museum Boathouse staff member Tia D’Alessandro.