Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tuckerton Seaport

The town of Tuckerton is roughly a half hour's ride up route 9 from Brigantine.  Tuckerton was originally called Clamtown.  Tuckerton/Clamtown is the home of the Tuckerton Seaport and Baymen's Museum.  Twenty odd years ago, the Baymen's Museum occupied a small cedar shack on the opposite side of route 9 from where the "Seaport" is currently located.  You can read more  here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuckerton_Seaport

Although initially funded with a grant from the state of New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, money has appeared to have dried up with the current down turn of both the economy in general and the Atlantic City casino industry in particular.  I noticed that many displays had an air of neglect.  This included a donated Moth Boat which I hoped had been restored and put on display since my last visit a few years ago.  Instead, sadly I found the Moth, a Fletcher-Cates Florida design laying out in the weather.  I told the Museum director that the boat really needed to be returned to covered storage soon or else it would be fit only for the dump.  He quickly agreed and said that in the heady days when cash was flowing the Museum had taken in many more wooden boats (70) than they could restore and take care of.  He hoped that planned fund raising will permit the construction of a shed large enough to shelter the collection of boats until Museum staff and volunteers can properly restored them.  The Museum is currently not accepting any more wooden boats unless they come with an endowment to provide for the boat's upkeep.  Having said all this, and although disappointed about the state of the Classic Moth, the Seaport is always worth a visit.  Let's take a little walk.

This building is a replica of the old Tucker's Island Lighthouse which fell into the sea when the island sank beneath the waves.  The replica building is used for displays.  In the fall after the trees drop their leaves, one can see where Tuckerton Creek joins the bay from the top of the lighthouse.

The Sneakbox is primarily a gunning boat originally developed in New Jersey.  This one dates to very beginnings of the design in the mid 1800s. 

This Sneakbox is camouflaged with marsh grass as many are during duck hunting season.  Remember to click on the photos to enlarge them.

Many fine models are sprinkled though out the lighthouse.  This one is a Garvey clam boat.  The Garvey is another work boat design which is endemic to south Jersey.

Here is a model of a Coast Guard W 125 patrol boat.

The Life Car was developed in New Jersey and used in many beach rescues up and down the east coast.  The US Lifesaving Service was eventually incorporated into the Coast Guard.

 There are many other interesting artifacts in the lighthouse but we'll move along to some of the other buildings.

This building recreates Perrine's boat shop.  The Museum staff repair and construct boats here.
This nice 1928 Model A roadster pick-up was parked outside the boat shop.  In the background one sees the working sawmill.  The Museum mills cedar logs into planks for some of the restoration work.
Here is a Sneakbox under construction with the frame of another hoisted up as a display.
This baby Garvey was also under construction.  The shop was fragrant with the smell of cedar.

A vintage 3 hp Johnson for the baby Garvey.
In its heyday, Perrine's build both work boat type Garveys and Sneakboxs and also a racing version of the Sneakbox which several of the Long Beach Island Yacht Clubs raced instead of Moths.  Several of these racing Sneakboxes have been donated and hopefully will be properly displayed as funds permit.
The Museum also holds extensive collections of duck decoys and bird carvings.  Hurley Conklin was a well know local carver.  This small shop recreates his carving shack.
Other buildings display many of the tools of watermen such as clam rakes.

Here is a set of caulking irons and a caulking mallet.
Here is one of the boats in need of lots of TLC.

I remember when the Melody II used to fish out of Oyster Creek.  She's dried out now and needs a new stem.

PINEY is Lightening Nr 235.  She was built in the 1930s.  Will she get her turn in the shop or will she wind up enriching the earth?
Here lies poor old Moth Nr 2662.  She was built by Blair Fletcher in the mid-1960s.  I helped the Museum director find the centerboard and mast for this little boat.  I looked in vain for the boom, rudder and other equipment.  She's just savable but another winter out by the reeds and she'll be gone.

The annual duck and decoy show is one of the Museum's fund raiser events.  Hopefully some of the boats shown above will benefit from the proceeds of this fall's show.
Finally, here is a Cheetah Cat, mercifully in relatively good repair.  The Cheetah Cat was designed by Robt Harris.  This particular example was built by Edme Deschamps, down in Stone Harbor, and was one of a group which raced at that yacht club until recently.  More about this design can be read here:  http://sailboatdata.com/viewrecord.asp?class_id=6723 

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