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Sailing dinghy construction continues at museum

Construction of the lapstrake Baker North Shore sailing dinghy is now under way in the boat shop of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Md.

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Shipwrights, volunteers, and Apprentice for a Day public boatbuilding program participants have been working on the small craft since early March, with the launch scheduled for Memorial Day weekend.

After the lofting and molds were completed, white cedar lapstrake planking and the outer stem were shaped and installed. Then, the centerboard trunk was installed along the starboard side of the keel. Participants are now steaming ribs, with framing scheduled to continue through April. Shear clamps, thwarts and bilge stringers are next on the list, as well as the fabrication of the mast and the boom, which will be crafted from spruce.

When the boat is completed, it will be used in the museum's Sailing Saturdays program, when visitors take museum-built boats out on the water during select days in the summer.

The boat is also the last project lead by museum boatyard program manager Dan Sutherland, who died unexpectedly on Feb. 18, at the age of 47. Second-year shipwright apprentices are now leading the project, along with a dedicated corps of volunteers.

Sutherland was the world's foremost expert on the boats of the famous 19th century designer and builder J.H. Rushton, from whose designs Sutherland built more than 50 boats during his lifetime. Sutherland was recognized by those who know wooden boats well as unsurpassed when it comes to building small, lapstraked boats.