Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum

Working Boatyard

Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum
213 N. Talbot St.
P.O. Box 636
St. Michaels, MD 21663

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Working Boatyard

The Museum's Boatyard creates anew the tradition
of a working waterfront. The Museum's shipwrights and apprentices are a tangible connection to the Chesapeake's rich story of boat building through:

Boatyard staff interact with our visitors, explaining their work and the boats for which the Bay is known. You will also find shipwrights and apprentices demonstrating maritime skills at our festivals and special events.
Click here to Donate or Buy a Boat


Apprentice For A Day Public Boatbuilding Program

Learn traditional boatbuilding under the direction of a CBMM shipwright. You can be part of the whole 17-week process or just sign up for those aspects of building a boat that you want to learn. Must be 16 or older unless accompanied by an adult. During museum hours on Saturdays and Sundays now through the spring months, program participants will be constructing a 15-foot sailing skiff. The process began in early October with lines and lofting. The boat is a modified version of the museum’swas once used as a crabbing skiff along the Chesapeake.

CBMM members $45 and Non-members $55
Journeyman Special:
Choose any 4 classes for $150 CBMM Members and $200 Non-members

Each week we work on a specific topic which relates to the overall process of building a boat. See the other side for current schedule.
Full-sized drawing of boat based on measurements or plans showing profile, half-breadths, & body plan. Lofting details are the dimensions, shapes, and locations of all parts: stem, keel, expanded transom, molds as well as seats, mast, centerboard, trunk, and rudder.
Body plan (cross-section) shapes are traced from the lofting to mold stock. Molds become permanent frames in some boats, but often are temporary until the hull is complete. The expanded transom, keel and stem are built at the same time.
Accuracy and strength are vital. Level the strongback, draw center and station lines, then fasten molds, stem, transom and keel.
Plank shapes are derived by lining off the erected molds, using battens to divide the area to be covered. Spiling is the process of measuring each plank from this shape. The shaped planks are dry fitted, smoothed and fastened in place.
Many components must be built and installed, such as knees, breast hook, inwales, seat risers, seats, and centerboard trunk. Removable parts including spars, centerboard, rudder and tiller, oarlocks, oars, sails, hardware and rigging are all part of the process.
Step-wise instruction includes preparation and application methods for a professional looking finish. You are introduced to pre-coating, marine paints, varnishes and protective coatings for boats and spars.

Join Boatyard Program Manager Jenn Kuhn in constructing a 17 1/2 foot lapstrake sailing skiff. Email questions to or call the Museum at 410-745-2916 and ask to speak to someone in the Boatyard.

Journeyman Special
Choose any four days for one reduced price! Diversify your experience to include several different skills—a great way to get the most out of your Apprentice for a Day experience. Gift certificates available. A great activity for the winter months! CBMM members $150, non members, $200


Working Boatyard

About the Shipwright
Apprentice Program

Beyond restoration and public programming, the Museum's Boatyard is working to pass fading maritime skills on to a new generation of wooden boat builders. Our Apprentice Program provides one year apprenticeships to graduates of boat building schools, so they can get on-the-job training and experience under the tutelage of master shipwrights. In addition to preserving historic vessels and passing on traditional maritime skills, our Boatyard Staff develop programs to engage our visitors.

The Chesapeake Bay shoreline was once home to scores of small boatyards where skilled shipwrights built and maintained hundreds of wooden vessels. These craftsmen not only supported the commercial growth of the Chesapeake, but they also passed along skills that had been refined over hundreds of years. Because most of these yards have vanished, and along with them, the skills and techniques of the builders, there is a deficit of proficient boat builders today.

Working Boatyard

The Museum's Shipwright Apprentice Program is on-the-job training in the form of a professional apprenticeship which gives apprentices the opportunity to work on a wide variety of Chesapeake Bay indigenous watercraft. The program provides the skills and experience of a working boatyard and bridges the gap for those coming out of wooden boat building schools and programs. The majority of apprentices completing the Museum's Shipwright Apprentice Program have taken jobs in the boat building or maritime industries, working in commercial shipbuilding yards or small boat yards around the Bay. Others have become shipwrights on large vessel construction projects and several are working in the maritime museum industry.

Click here to read "Shipwright Apprentices: Where are they now?" a feature article in the Spring, 2011 issue of
The Chesapeake Log, the Museum's quarterly publication.

Requirements, Compensation & Application
Successful completion of an accredited boat building school is preferred, but applicants with related experience will be considered. Though not required, it is strongly suggested that applicants visit the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum campus. Click here to download the Shipwright Apprentice Application

Mail or fax your completed application to Boatyard Manager Richard Scofield.

Richard Scofield
Boatyard Manager
PO Box 636
St. Michaels, MD 21663-0636
Phone: 410-745-4966
Fax: 410-745-6088

Boatyard Staff
The Museum's shipwrights and apprentices interact with daily visitors to the Museum, answering questions and explaining the work they are doing. During festivals and special events, the Museum's Boat Yard is transformed into an interactive series of maritime skills demonstrations as our highly skilled craftsmen demonstrate such skills as caulking, varnishing, replacing planks or steam bending frames on historic and non-historic vessels.