Upon entering Museum grounds, visitors are initially greeted by the L.A. Dunton. The Gloucester fishing schooner was built in 1921 and joined Mystic Seaport’s collection in 1963, eventually becoming one of the Museum’s four National Historic Landmark vessels. On September 12, the Dunton was moved from her normal berth to the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard in order to undergo routine maintenance. The Dunton will be out of the water for approximately one month before taking the Charles W. Morgan’s spot at Chubb’s Wharf, when the Morgan then takes her turn in the shipyard for a major restoration.
What vessel could possibly fit the Dunton’s friendly (but really big) shoes? The choice was made – a little girl, with a BIG story. Annie, the sandbagger, holds a special place in the hearts of all Museum staff.
Donated to Mystic Seaport in 1931, Annie was the first boat in the Museum’s watercraft collection. The collection now numbers more than 500 vessels, but Annie still holds the number one spot.
Fully rebuilt in 1968, Annie receives a lot of attention. Sandbaggers, built for their shape and sail area, were involved in many intense races in Long Island Sound, Florida, New Orleans and San Francisco. A crew of at least 10 was necessary in order to keep the boat upright and crew members would haul and throw 50-pound bags of sand as ballast.
As a racing class that was considered dangerous, eventually the sandbaggers were set aside for a new class of racing boats. Though not raced competitively anymore, Annie still receives routine maintenance, allowing her legacy to live on.
After taking in Annie, make sure to turn to your left and look at the sight looming in the Shipyard. There she is, the smiling Dunton, welcoming you from afar.
Don’t be afraid to head toward the shiplift and take an up-close look at the Dunton. Museum staff members are currently working on building a staircase which will make the vessel accessible during her maintenance. This “Stairway to Heaven” – as staff members have aptly named it – will be finished soon, allowing Museum visitors the pleasure of once again boarding the Dunton.
For more information about the Museum’s watercraft collection, visit us online at www.msyticseaport.org.