Getting Underway

The first two weeks as a Preservation Intern at San Francisco Maritime are in the books, and it has been quite the whirlwind already. As anyone who owns a boat would say, there’s always something to tend to, so it’s hard to imagine how the Small Boat Shop manages to tend to a multitude of boats. Furthermore, this is complicated because of the variety of vessels, in terms of models and eras.

This feat requires staff at the shop to wear many hats: from managing volunteers (and interns), hands-on maintenance, restoration, preservation and rehabilitation, sailing and piloting vessels, paperwork, back end bureaucratic meetings, to watching out for federally protected sea lions who can damage docks and boats.

These are just a few of the many many tasks I witnessed these past couple of weeks. In part, as a Preservation Intern I will work to help mitigate the madness through the production of documents that not only record the cultural history and significance of the vessel, but the work (preservation, restoration, rehabilitation, etc) that has gone into it. This, I feel, reflects the mission of the National Park Service to preserve natural and cultural resources for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. These log books will serve to help future generations of curators, conservators, and others interested in historic preservation to know the history and work done to each vessel because every decision and action has its consequence, as I am learning at San Francisco Maritime.

One of the main boats Park staff are trying to get back in the water is the Nuovo Mondo

It is a replica of a felucca boat used by Italian immigrants for fishing in San Francisco Bay from 1850 to 1910. Because the boat builder used the type of fasteners originally used by boat builders over 100 years ago, they have a lifespan less than modern fasteners. The fasteners are what hold the outside planks on the hull to the framing on the inside. We are replacing a bunch of old fasteners that have oxidized and are pretty much powder. This is where I get hands-on preservation experience.

I also got to spend some time at the boat yard the park uses to do repairs. We traveled on water aboard the historic vessel Eva B. to go pick up the Wetton’s Monterrey boat that was ready to come back to the park.

On my last day of my first two weeks, we went back to the boat yard to prep another vessel to bring back to the park, this time working with park volunteers to oil the redwood planks on the replica Chinese shrimp junk Grace Quan.

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