Mystic Seaport's Schooner Brilliant

Mystic Seaport Watercraft

Never before has such a comprehensive compilation of watercraft in a museum collection been published. The Mystic Seaport watercraft collection, largest in the United States, is a treasury of American boat and vessel types.

Mystic Seaport Watercraft

Nautical Treasures in Mystic

Mystic Seaport -- The Museum of America and the Sea -- is the nation's leading maritime museum.

Mystic Seaport



Mystic Seaport Watercraft Collection

JGTSCA members were fortunate to get a personal tour of the Mystic Seaport Watercraft Collection. Our visit was hosted by Peter Vermilya, the Curator of Small Craft at Mystic Seaport and also a member of the JGTSCA.

The Mystic Seaport Watercraft Collection contains over 550 boats, but only about 100 are on public display and easily viewed by the approximately 300,000 annual visitors to the Seaport. There is a much larger collection of historic wooden boats that are out of the public eye housed in an old velvet mill. The mill has been renamed the American Maritime Education and Research Center and is currently open only to serious researchers.

This collection includes a variety of row, paddle, sail and power craft that are mostly under 25 feet. The building is essentially a library of watercraft and the boats are not restored so that they retain their original character. As Peter Vermilya explained "if you want to find out about dories, you can come here and not just see one, but see a dozen different kinds of dories," and went on to add "if we restored them, we would destroy them as research tools." The tour was a rare treat for the members of the JGTSCA who are all aficionados of wooden boats.

Peter Vermilya describes Mystic Seaport Watercraft Collection
Peter Vermilya (2nd from right) describes the collection to fellow JGTSCA members.

Traditional Rhode Island work skiff
Traditional Rhode Island work skiff typically used for shellfishing.

"Striker boat" used in menhaden fishery
This small workboat was built as a "striker boat" for the Elias F. Wilcox,
a menhaden fishing steamer that fished in the early 20th century.

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