CBMM Shipwrights to Restore Oldest Existing Log Canoe

This winter, shipwrights at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Md., will take on the restoration of a subject they’re all too familiar with — a Chesapeake Bay sailing log canoe.

Glide, believed to be the oldest existing Chesapeake Bay log canoe, is pictured under sail, c. 1930s–1940s. CBMM shipwrights will work to restore the historic log canoe’s bottom this winter, with the goal of sailing Glide by summer 2020 and then returning it to the Small Boat Shed for interpretation.

Part of CBMM’s small craft collection, Glide is a three-log canoe believed to have been built c. 1864 at Town Point in Dorchester County, Md., by Washington Hammond Skinner (1823-1901). Originally called Monkey, it is believed to be the oldest existing Chesapeake Bay log canoe and was donated to CBMM in 2018 by John T. Adams, Jr.

“This project is an opportunity for visitors to observe as our shipwrights conserve one of our most historic vessels,” said Associate Curator of Collections Jenifer Dolde. “Curatorial staff will document each step of the process as we uncover the mysteries of Glide’s log-hull construction, replacing decayed wood in order to preserve the canoe for years to come.”

CBMM’s Shipyard staff, led by Joe Connor, will work to restore Glide to sailable condition without doing a complete overhaul of the historic canoe’s log hull. The primary focus of their work will be resplining two primary log joints to increase their strength and water-tight capabilities while maintaining the mechanical biscuit fasteners original to the vessel. Their goal is to sail Glide by the end of summer 2020 before returning the canoe to sit on display in CBMM’s Small Boat Shed. All work will be done in adherence to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Historic Vessel Preservation.

CBMM’s working Shipyard has 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.

“There’s no other Shipyard in the world more experienced in working on Bay-built log canoes,” Connor said. “We’re always excited for an opportunity to help preserve a vital piece of Chesapeake Bay history and to teach both the public and our apprentices more about traditional wooden boatbuilding.”

For most of its history, Glide 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 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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