This week we meet Shannon McKenzie, assistant to the vice president of watercraft preservation and programs. Shannon’s office is located in the Museum’s Shipyard, giving her an up-close view of the activity surrounding the Charles W. Morgan. Shannon was at the Morgan haul out last November (of course!) and snapped a photo of her then four-month-old son, Sammy. She plans to take another picture of her son the day the Morgan goes back into the water, capturing just how much her little man has grown during the restoration project.
1. How long have you been employed at Mystic Seaport?
SM: I have been working here for about 3 years. My husband and I moved to Mystic four years ago from Cape Cod where we both worked at Sea Education Association. When I was sailing with that school, I took a winter off and worked as a rigger here while Amistad was being built. It was that experience that made me want to come back to work here.
2. What’s the best part of your job?
SM: The best part of my job is the people that I work with and the variety of work that I do on a daily basis. There is always something new and exciting going on in the Shipyard outside of my window. I have learned a lot and been exposed to all sorts of different techniques, tools, organizations and legends in the industry.
3. What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?
SM: I get directed all sorts of inquiries from the public. People call up who want to donate trees, boats, tools… I often end up tracking down whether or not we want to accept these donations. Some are more complicated than others, and some people have a history with the items which makes them vested in what will ultimately happen to their donation.
I also get calls from people all over the country who are looking to find out some specific fact, group or individual or technique that is maritime related. It is often a challenge to help them hunt down the answers. Although, frankly, sometimes I just Google to find them the answers and I still come away sounding like a wealth of knowledge!
4. What’s the funniest or most notable on-the-job experience you’ve had?
SM: Coordinating the WoodenBoat Show is my most notable. It is such a huge event, takes so much time to plan for and requires the coordination of all of the departments at the Museum. Standing on the VRC overlook eating a popsicle on Saturday afternoon knowing that there are over 5,000 people on the grounds and a waterfront full of wooden boats is a great moment. Although, going out on the water in those little race boats right after that sure was fun, too!
5. What’s your favorite thing to do outside of work?
SM: Right now, my favorite thing is hanging out with my little boy who celebrates his first birthday this week. There really is nothing I would rather do, which is a good thing, since entertaining him takes up all of my free time! We have a little sailing skiff that we take him out in. It isn’t the same as the off-shore voyaging that I used to do, but I’ll take my time on the water in smaller stints now. I also enjoy gardening and did the Master Gardner program when I lived on the Cape. My brother and his family and my parents all live close by, so I spend a lot of time with them as well.
Shannon was photographed by Dennis Murphy.