Historic Log Canoe’s Renovations Completed

In January 2019, shipwrights at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) in St. Michaels began the restoration of a Chesapeake Bay sailing log canoe. The Glide is a special log canoe as it is considered to be the oldest existing Chesapeake Bay log canoe, having been built in 1864.

Recently, the shipwrights completed the work and after a brief sail, Glide returned to the Small Boat Shed to remain on display to thousands of visitors a year. Part of CBMM’s small craft collection, Glide is a three-log canoe believed to have been built in 1864 at Town Point in Dorchester County, by Washington Hammond Skinner. Originally called Monkey, it was donated to CBMM in 2018 by John T. Adams, Jr.

Glide’s original log seams had separated, leaving it with no structural strength.

Originally, Glide’s restoration was meant to be done on display for all museum guests to watch as the shipwrights conserved one of the museum’s most historic vessels while curatorial staff documented each step of the process. However, due to the pandemic, most of the work was completed during quarantine and out of the limelight.

CBMM’s shipyard staff restored Glide to sailable condition without doing a complete overhaul of the historic canoe’s log hull. The primary focus of their work was resplining two primary log joints to increase their strength and water-tight capabilities while maintaining the mechanical biscuit fasteners original to the vessel. All work was done in adherence to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Historic Vessel Preservation.

Glide, believed to be the oldest existing Chesapeake Bay log canoe, is pictured under sail sometime in the 1930s or 40s. Photograph courtesy of John T. Adams, Jr.

CBMM’s working shipyard has been extremely busy in recent years, having previously built two log canoes, Bufflehead (2014–2015) and Caroline (2018-2019) and completed a historic restoration of 1889 bugeye Edna Lockwood, another log-hull Chesapeake Bay-built boat, in 2018.

For most of its history, Glide was used for pleasure, but not for racing. John T. Adams Sr. acquired the boat in 1962 from Raymond Ziegler of Cambridge, who bought the boat in the early 20th century from Earle Orem, a mayor of Cambridge. In 1943, marine architect Howard I. Chapelle restored Glide and took its lines. Unusual among surviving Chesapeake Bay log canoes, Glide’s logs are joined with wooden mortise and tenon rather than the iron drifts typical of later log canoes.

The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s working Shipyard preserves traditional Chesapeake Bay wooden boatbuilding skills and techniques through living traditions, experiential archaeology, and education from youth to adults. A tangible connection to the Chesapeake’s rich history of boatbuilding, shipwrights are dedicated to passing on skills and knowledge necessary to carry the wooden boat tradition forward. To learn more about CBMM’s Shipyard, its staff, and its current restoration and construction projects, visit cbmmshipyard.org.

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