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    Thursday, August 18, 2022

    Thousands visit 30th annual WoodenBoat Show in Mystic

    Jonathan Bush, 16, works on cutting down the scoring strip as students from the Forman School work on a solar motorboat during the 30th annual WoodenBoat Show at the Mystic Seaport Museum Sunday, June 26, 2022. Students at the boarding school in Litchfield have access to a boat shop on campus and have built boats through the school year, this one a solar motorboat they designed themselves. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)

    Mystic — Boat enthusiasts and tourists walked along the Mystic Seaport Museum's waterfront Sunday to admire all things wooden boats.

    The 30th annual WoodenBoat Show, organized by WoodenBoat magazine, took place Friday through Sunday and offered an array of speakers, demonstrations, vendors and more than 100 classic wooden vessels.

    Seeing Mystic and the museum for the first time with her family, Chrissy Brodeur of Massachusetts said she had no idea the WoodenBoat show was being held over the weekend. She said it was neat to see wooden boats are still being made, finding it fascinating how much labor goes into their craftsmanship.

    This is a concept Matt Murphy, the editor of WoodenBoat magazine for the past 20 years, said Jonathan Wilson, the founder of WoodenBoat publications, had in mind when he started the magazine in 1975 as the long tradition was dying out: "to preserve and advance the art and skill of wooden boat making."

    Murphy became co-owner of the company with Andrew Breece earlier this year. He said the WoodenBoat show started out in Newport, R.I., 30 years ago and the theory was to keep it fresh by moving around to different states such as Maine and Maryland.

    Finding a home here 20 years ago, Murphy said visitors can have "a show within a show," with the museum being an attraction within itself.

    Murphy said he expected 10,000 visitors Sunday, give or take a few thousand. He said he sees a lot of the same WoodenBoat afficionados and boat owners each year making it somewhat like a reunion.

    Bringing a shiny, recently restored black Herreshoff schooner to the event, Steve Frary of Jamestown, R.I., said he's been coming to the WoodenBoat Show since its days in Newport but this is the first time he brought his boat named Narwhal.

    "It's really fun to share the boat with people who have interest in wooden boats," Frary said. "Anyone can come to the show and have a great experience."

    Frary said he loves his boat in which he can do coastal crusing along the New England shoreline with his teenage children. He said he's dreamed of owning a schooner since he was introduced to the schooner Bill of Rights in the 1980s and now 40 years later he has his own schooner, black like the one in Jack London's Seawolf.

    Tim Swec of Madison was viewing boats at the dock with his family. He said he's liked coming to the show for the past three years to see other people's projects which is why he enjoys the "I built it myself" section of the show on the museum's village green.

    At the green, a group of young people framed a boat as others they had built were displayed. The group belongs to a youth development association from the Bronx, N.Y., called Rocking the Boat.

    Kris Mielenhausen, director of environmental projects, said the program allows high school students in the Bronx to get involved in environmental projects, sailing and wooden boat building. He said they come to the boat show every year to show off their boats.

    Emmanuel Lopez, who works with Rocking the Boat, said boat building builds self-esteem in the kids.

    "They can look at any challenge and say 'Hey, I built a boat, it can't be that hard,'" he said.

    j.vazquez@theday.com

    Dudley Dix, of Virginia Beach, Va. raises the sail of Paper Jet, a wood skiff, as he prepares to sail on the Mystic River during the 30th annual WoodenBoat Show at the Mystic Seaport Museum Sunday, June 26, 2022. This was the prototype made by Dix, a boat designer and builder who was also a vendor at the event, about 50 years ago. Since then he estimates he has made or sold plans for at least 100 more of the boats. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
    Visitors check out boats on display during the 30th annual WoodenBoat Show at the Mystic Seaport Museum Sunday, June 26, 2022. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
    John McPhee, 18, works on planing the inner keel as students from the Forman School work on a solar motorboat during the 30th annual WoodenBoat Show at the Mystic Seaport Museum Sunday, June 26, 2022. Students at the boarding school in Litchfield have access to a boat shop on campus and built boats through the school year, this one a solar motorboat they designed themselves. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
    Visitors check out boats on display during the 30th annual WoodenBoat Show at the Mystic Seaport Museum Sunday, June 26, 2022. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
    Matthew Fisher, 16, nails wood down as students from the Forman School work on a solar motorboat during the 30th annual WoodenBoat Show at the Mystic Seaport Museum Sunday, June 26, 2022. Students at the boarding school in Litchfield have access to a boat shop on campus and built boats through the school year, this one a solar motorboat they designed themselves. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)

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