Mystic Seaport’s Riverfest shows restoration efforts
Mystic ― With 140 feet in overall length, the historic L.A. Dunton stood in grandeur, pulled out of the water and on full display Saturday at the Mystic Seaport Museum.
The 93-year-old fishing vessel is being restored at the museum’s restoration shipyard, which was made evident by its somewhat dismantled state. Construction on the deck will soon allow visitors.
During its 40-year career, the “L.A. Dun“ sailed for cod, halibut and haddock. Visitors to the museum were given a demonstration of how Atlantic cod was split cut and preserved by fishermen back then.
The demonstration, as well as a guided tour of the shipyard, were part of this year’s Riverfest. The two-day weekend event offers various tours, oyster bars, activities and live music performances.
Jim Moritimer, a longtime staff member at the museum, walked visitors through what he said is one of the biggest shipyards on the East Coast. There were around 30 shipwrights and volunteers, he said.
“We try to do everything in house,” Moritimer said, pointing to the wood collection, paint shop, machine shop and dock where vessels were elevated on a shiplift for maintenance and repairs. Apart from working on the museum’s collection of ships, he said, the shipyard also did subcontracted work on other vessels.
At the shipyard exhibit, Mortimer pointed to the New Haven Sharpie, an 1890 vessel undergoing restoration. He said the Sharpie would keep 15% to 20% of its original material.
Mortimer said as long as a vessel maintains at least a block of its original material, it is still considered the same boat.
Visiting from Guilford, Diane and Bob Richard are familiar with the museum and wanted to return to Riverfest after attending last year for the first time.
“It’s a good excuse to come and enjoy the music and as always see the shipyard,” said Bob Richard. “I find it fascinating ... for all the work done here, and in particular the restoration.”
Diane said growing up in New Haven it was not unusual for her family to visit the museum, and she has seen the Charles W. Morgan whaling ship at various stages of its renewal.
She said she has watched it embedded in sand when it was not yet afloat, watched it through many repairs and was in Martha’s Vineyard as the ship sailed past her after its full restoration in 2014.
Dulce Maritzer of Bristol, visiting for the day with her husband and children, was tasting an oyster at Jon Fish, one of the raw seafood bars at the event. She said it was fun learning about the boats and their history.
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