Took S/V Kai to the WoodenBoat Show. Could not get in.

The WoodenBoat Show was at Mystic Seaport Museum (MSM) in Connecticut on June 28-30. It was also the WoodenBoat magazine 50th anniversary celebration. I signed up to volunteer at the Show with the Mystic chapter of the Traditional Small Craft Association (TSCA) and booked two nights aboard the tall ship Joseph Conrad at the Seaport.

We wanted to look good! Rita helped me scrape S/V Kai and give it a fresh coat of paint the week before the trip.

It took five hours to drive up from Maryland to Connecticut. I got to MSM Friday afternoon and got in. But my boat did not. S/V Kai spent the entire weekend parked at the Stonehaven Middle School along with a dozen empty boat trailers.

My mistake. Here’s what I should have known: The WoodenBoat Show is not a small craft festival and messabout for amateur builders. It’s mostly about big boats in the water and commercial small craft builders and vendors exhibiting on land. There is no small boat trailer ramp at MSM. And the public ramp adjacent to the MSM campus was closed for trailer launching. The TSCA guys offered to carry my boat down to the water. But there were only a few of them – all older than 70. Too hard to do.

So I enjoyed the show on my own, without my boat. Here’s what stood out for me:

The unseen small craft collection

TSCA vice president Bill Rutherford led me and a few other volunteers to the fundraising kickoff event for reconstruction of Wells Boat Hall. Till now, MSM’s 560 small craft have been inaccessible to the general public. This project will put many of them on exhibit. I took more pics and video here. More about the Wells Boat Hall campaign is here.

Lester Rowe Sharpie

I got to see the renowned New Haven oyster sharpie originally built by Lester Rowe in the 1880s. I had come to Mystic a year ago specifically to see this boat but could not find it. MSM staff couldn’t help. I found it by chance in the boat shop undergoing restoration – a nearly complete rebuild. I took some photos of the restoration work here in 2023. This sharpie was put back on the water only a month ago. My pics of the restored sharpie are here.

I also saw a replica oyster sharpie under sail and took some pics and videos here. I regret that I didn’t see this boat up close somewhere else along the waterfront. It was probably the Lester Rowe, built in the 1970s and restored in 2019.

CLC’s John Harris

John C. Harris of Chesapeake Light Craft gave a demo and tips on how to rig and optimize the balanced lugsail. After reading so much about his designs, it was good to learn something about the person behind them – designer, presenter, and writer. I’m looking again at CLC kits.

Waterfront at night

Instead of booking a hotel in town, I took up the TSCA offer for a berth onboard the Joseph Conrad. This put me right at the waterfront evenings and early mornings when the crowds were gone. Some of my most memorable moments at MSM this weekend were quietly watching the river and sky at dusk.

The accommodations onboard the Conrad were less than optimum. But I’m glad I did this at least once. Here’s a 90-second video tour to help you decide.

Ship timbers

My last stop before packing up for home was the MSM timber yard. Lots of white oak logs, Osage orange slabs, and stickered piles of planks under interesting shelters. My 4-minute walkthrough video is here.

I departed MSM Sunday at 7 a.m. Got through NYC by 10. Back home on Maryland’s Eastern Shore by 2 pm.