Someone once noted that to me. About boatbuilding. I had never really thought about it but yes, people needed to be able to move and to fish and as this need grew, they developed new forms of transportation. Boats were one such thing.
My husband builds and repairs boats. His crew is now in the midst of their third build in the last several years. This boat, a cold-molded Haven 12 1/2, is having its first of four layers of planks put on the mold. The next two layers will run at different 45 degree angles and then the final – exterior layer – will be horizontal.
Why am I writing about this? Well, Maria Mitchell’s world of Nantucket relied on boat transportation. And as such, there were small boat shops around the island, including on the corner of Vestal and Bloom Streets – just a few doors up from her home at 1 Vestal Street. Large ship building did exist on Nantucket – but not for too long. Wood had to be brought from off-island adding to the expense of building a boat and then you had that pesky sandbar across the entry to the harbor that caused all sorts of issues over the years. I think I’ve written here about the camels and lighters – it really put a cramp and then finally, in part, an end to whaling on Nantucket.
There are others still building boats on the island and I’d like to call attention to this art form – it is an art. And it is one that Maria saw on a daily basis whether it was a dory or a whaleboat or even, early on, a large whaleship at Brant Point Shipyard.