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The mystical secret place for good old boats

by SV Crystal Blues 24 Aug 2018 12:52 UTC
Chris Gasiorek shows me through wonderland © SV Crystal Blues

During our stay at Mystic Seaport Museum we met Chris Gasiorek, who is Vice President Of Watercraft Preservation And Programs.

While his job title may be long winded, Chris is straight to the point when it comes to recognising boat lovers. He approached us onboard Crystal Blues one morning and offered a guided tour of the hidden collection - a massive converted factory, now housing hundreds of preserved boats, engines and machinery just across the street from the public museum site.

Mystic Seaport Museum was built on the site of two traditional shipyards. As time progressed and wooden ships were superseded, the shipyard owners built mills on the site, in substantial brick buildings.

One of those buildings now houses the museum's boat collection, an almost un-imaginable treasure trove of boats that date back as far as 1824. Whilst the majority are wooden, there are others made of fiberglass, aluminum and even tin.

The museum is dedicated to preserving the history of ships, boats and maritime culture, including boat building.

So the vibrant living seaport experience is one part of that, drawing over a quarter of a million visitors each year, teaching sailing skills and keeping traditional craft in service. Another part is harboring a collection of unique and special vessels - the collection now housed in the old mill building. They call it the Watercraft Hall, and it houses over 470 boats - we spent a few hours in there, and probably didn't see them all.

The museum also has a large curated library of nautical documents and artifacts, including scrimshaw, charts, ship drawings, scale models and images. Significantly, it is now custodian of the fantastic Rosenfeld Collection - nearly one million maritime photography pieces dating from 1881 thru 1992, with images held in various formats, from glass plates through to color transparencies. This collection also includes the cameras and equipment used by the Rosenfeld family over the years.

The Watercraft Hall is open to the public only four days each year, though I suspect that enthusiasts with a special interest could be accommodated at other times, by arrangement.

I understand that the museum gains about half its annual funding from gate proceeds - the entry fee for visiting the site. The balance comes from private donations, plus a contribution from sales through the museum store and online store. Seriously, this is an amazing site, where the art, craft and history of ships and the sea is not only celebrated, but preserved for future generations. More power to them! If you love boats, add this place to your bucket list, and click below to see some more lovely images of the Watercraft Hall.

This article has been provided by the courtesy of SV Crystal Blues

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