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.
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
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 (2nd from right) describes the collection to
fellow JGTSCA members.
Traditional Rhode Island work skiff typically used for shellfishing.
This small workboat was built as a "striker boat"
for the Elias
a menhaden fishing steamer that fished in the early 20th century.