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The Boatworks' Youth Build-A-Boat Program

Groups of kids have been busy building boats and boat models at the Ruark Boatworks this summer as we continue our Youth Build-A-Boat Program. Working in teams of 3-5 youngsters under the supervision of our volunteer boatwrights, the kids learn basic woodworking techniques and skills along with some of the history and heritage of wooden boatbuilding.

2012 Springside School visit

For the ninth year in a row, the eighth-grade class of Philadelphia’s Springside School visited the Ruark Boatworks. This year each girl built a skipjack model and stand. With supervision each girl learned to use a hand jigsaw, plane, drill press and sanding blocks to refine the precut parts made by the Ruark Boatworks volunteers.  Forty girls participated over three days, each taking home their model as a memento of their trip to Dorchester County. We thank all the following Ruark Boatworks volunteers for helping with this event. Pictured left to right: Ken Guelta, Guy Gray, Dave Robinson and Ron Dukes. Not pictured: Frank Antes, Jim Leech, Willem Zijp, Bud Campbell, Ray Henderson, John Kenny, Dave Bodey and Dan Cada.

Younger kids are also welcome to participate. Students from the University of Maryland's Horn Point Summer Camp Program have spent a few days at the Boatworks building a skiff. Our boatwrights handled the more difficult tasks, but the kids still did much of the work themselves.

Finally, in our efforts to support other community organizations, we have partnered with the Dorchester County Department of Juvenile Services to use the Build-A-Boat Program as an activity for the teens under its supervision. These older youths end up learning skills that can serve them well as they enter the workforce and help them lead productive lives.

Numerous local businesses have supported these efforts by donating or discounting materials for the boats, including E. S. Hubbert & Son, The Contractor Yard, Sherwin Williams, The Lumberyard, Inc., Harbor Sales Company and Warren’s Woodworks. Through their support and the dedication of our volunteers, we are bringing exciting new experiences to kids and sharing with them the unique maritime heritage of Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Restoration continues on the Jolly Dolphin

The Ruark Boatworks volunteers are undertaking the restoration of the 49-year-old Jolly Dolphin built by “Mr. Jim” Richardson. After turning the Jolly Dolphin over, the volunteers will replace the bottom with new cedar and other components as needed.

The Ruark Boatworks is opened every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:00 to 2:00 pm. Everyone is invited to view the activities and if so inclined to participate in the restoration. The volunteers will be glad to guide any new volunteers. For more information please contact: Dan Cada 410-221-1061 or 410-221-8844 or the Richardson Maritime Museum 410-221-1871.

Master Apprentice Boat

“Master-Apprentice” boat: The “Master” (Mac McGlaughlin) and the “Apprentice” (Frank Antes),  and Ed Airey, have finished this 28 1/2-foot workboat. The Master and Apprentice were funded by a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council. After ten months of part-time effort, the boat went  in the water on June 4th, awaiting “sea trials” and the owner’s acceptance. She’s called “Obligation” and will be home ported in Cambridge, MD. She’s has been sold - look for her on the Choptank River.

Restoring a Dovetail

The “Hilda” was in a sad state of disrepair when she came to us in 2001. The late master Boatwright Bobby Ruark looked her over and described her condition in just one word: "Rough." From the skeg to the cabin and stem to stern, each piece was inspected and slated for either replacement or restoration.

The Reese Todd Dovetail work boat before restoration began on her.

Our Ruark Boatworks dedicated volunteers, under the leadership of Harold Ruark and Ronald McGlaughlin, have completed the restoration of “Hilda”, the 38-foot Dovetail workboat, built in 1952 by Dorchester County boatbuilder Reese Todd. The restoration included: new floor timbers both cabin and work areas, new lockers in the cabin, new trunk cabin, new log and guard. They also rebuilt a 1964 6-cylinder Chevrolet engine with a marine transmission.

“Hilda" was recently sold to Jordan & James Melvin and her new home is in Grasonville, Maryland.

Today, with the restoration completed we keep true to our mission of – “Putting History on the Water”.


Part of the mission of the Richardson Maritime Museum is to pass on the boatbuilding heritage-both the history and the skills-to future generations. That mission is being emphasized this year as we start to bring kids into the Museum and Boatworks to get them excited about what we have to offer.

Local mentoring organizations, including All 4 One and Talbot Mentors, have been invited to use Museum events as outings and there are plans to work with these groups more closely in coming months.

We're especially pleased to be working with Lisa Salvatore and the All 4 One group here in Cambridge. All 4 One is a young mentoring organization with worthy goals. By working together, the Museum can bring added awareness to the need for mentors and get more of the young people of Dorchester County involved in the Museum.

We are in the process of setting up a program that will allow mentors and children to work together on projects at our Boatworks facility. One mentor, John Ericson, and his mentee, Joe Slaughter, volunteer there and are using the experience to help the Museum establish a pilot program.

Currently named SKIFF-Skills, Knowledge, Initiative, Foundation, Friendship-the proposed two-year program is primarily devoted to bringing interested mentor/mentee teams into the Boatworks to learn traditional boatbuilding skills.

First-year teams would be taught and advised by second-year teams and Boatworks volunteers, thus not only teaching children about boatbuilding and teamwork, but also teaching them how to be mentors themselves.

Upon completion of the second year, each mentee would receive a resume listing all of the work that he or she had accomplished in the program. They would also be given the opportunity to stay on as a Boatworks volunteer and be presented with a letter of reference to help in finding employment. Their hours worked would also fulfill community service requirements for high school graduation.

The program is still under development and more details will be available as we progress. For more information, contact the Museum at 410-221-1871 or

John Ericson, left, teaches his mentee, Joe Slaughter, how to sand the mahogany brightwork on a skiff in progress at the Boatworks.

Oral Histories Project

The Richardson Maritime Museum is collecting the memories and histories of selected boatbuilders, watermen and related individuals of Dorchester County and the surrounding region in an effort to preserve this information for future generations before it is lost forever.

As part of this project, writer Marci McGuinness Andrews has interviewed the following individuals for us, just a beginning of the effort:

Calvert Cannon, boatbuilder
Theodore Cephus, waterman
Ed Cutts, Sr., boatbuilder
Ed Farley, waterman
Maynard Lowery, boatbuilder
Evelyn Robinson, waterman
Harold Ruark, modeler and boat designer
George Wheatley, waterman

Characters all, each embodies a different aspect of local maritime life and history and is unique in the heritage of the area.

Our plans are to publish a volume of edited interviews of these individuals and keep the recorded interviews on record at the Museum for researchers, historians and the interested public.

Ed Farley, captain of the skipjack H. M. Krentz


Harold Ruark, left, Director of the Richardson Maritime Museum Ruark Boatworks, shows Frank Newton his model of the Nathan of Dorchester. He designed the full-sized skipjack which sails the Choptank River out of Cambridge.


Maynard Lowery, Tilghman Island boatbuilder.

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