Archival Anchorage – Object Exercise 4

Using the information compiled by the Independence Seaport Museum, the Tuckerton Seaport Museum, and information from the Ocean County historian I have been able to stitch together little about the fifteen-foot Perrine that I have been referring to as Little Sister but I have been able to build an understanding of sneakbox history as well as the family history of the Perrine Boat Works that would have produced it.  Among all of the sources, they generally agree that the sneakbox originated in the nineteenth century, but there seems to be debate as to whether Hazelton Seaman was the first to market the design or whether that is the myth built from Nathaniel Bishop’s voyage Pittsburgh to New Orleans in 1875.  However, at least one source suggests that the design is associated with the hunting practices of the Lenni Lennape natives of the region.  In any event, the sneakbox was a well-established design by the time that Samuel Perrine, Jr. and Joseph Howard Perrine, his son, opened Perrine Boat Works, née Shipyard, in 1900.

The original Perrine workshop/school/church
The Perrine workshop recreated at the Tuckerton Seaport Museum

The Perrine family history in the region seems to stem from the immigration of Daniel Perrin to New Jersey via Jersey, England in 1655 after fleeing Huguenot persecution in France.  The descendants that I am concerned with begins with Samuel, Sr. born around 1799.  At the same time that Hazelton was in theory laying down the first sneakboxes in 1836, Sammy, as he was known, was constructing the Harvey Cedars hotel.  Like much of the maritime culture that we have been collectively studying, Sammy’s hotel sought to cater to the wealthy tourists coming from New York City and Philadelphia. Sammy was also the first skipper of the Lifesaving Service, founded in 1848, after which the Hotel served as one of only twenty House of Refuge stations that helped to service seamen between Maine to Georgia and was a precursor to the modern U.S. Coast Guard.

Captain Sammy, Jr. and Hoppy/Howie Perrine

Samuel Jr. was born shortly before this point, around 1837-40, and became involved as a keeper of the Harvey Cedars Life Boat Station along with his father.  Around 1886, the federal government began paying Sammy Jr. for his upkeep service demonstrating the earlier involvement in maritime aid that would lead to the formation of the U.S. Coast Guard in 1915 by merging several of these previous services.  For thirty years, Sammy Jr. served as the captain for a 100-135-foot luxury yacht owned by Nathan Middleton and John Leisenring, Pennsylvania coalmen.  J.H. Perrine was introduced to life aboard the Sans Souci as the cook and butcher, before becoming a Hires Root Beer salesman, and ultimately going into business with his father.

A map of the Barnegat Bay Region with Harvey Cedars in the north and Tuckerton in the south

The shop that they opened around 1900 had previously served as a schoolhouse, which in turn had originally been a church.  In 55 years, they produced roughly 3,600 vessels that ranged from 12ft hunters to 20ft racers, but on rare occasions could be built as small as 9ft or as large as 44ft.  This would make Little Sister a representative model of their work, with Lesley listing towards the outlier category.  The shop had two floors, the first floor focused on the construction of the vessels while the second floor operated as sail and rope manufacturing, which his niece mentioned as being performed by female relatives.  Beulah also reminisces how Uncle Howie married into a wealthy family, but that they sold her family home in the late 20s citing the cost of heating as problematic.  Either the Perrine family was not immune to the Depression, the Boat Works was not a successful as initially believed, or a combination forced them to stay humble.  Their modus operandi seemed to follow the pattern of assembling the frames at the Perrine shop and then sending the frames out to many local craftsmen to undergo the construction process before returning to Perrine for finishing touches.  Without witnessing the original shop, it is difficult to gage the extent to which their assembly line resisted industrialized production, however this description is reminiscent of cottage industry and the visual evidence suggests that they leaned towards risk rather than certainty, or more accurately an amalgamation of the two.

The fabulous view of the Tuckerton Seaport and Baymen Museum from the top of their lighthouse

Beulah relives a tale in which her brothers, Earl and Howard, die in a boating accident in October of 1930.  This not only explains some of the design inconsistencies that we have collectively experienced, but also explains how the Chadwick family became the inheritors of the Perrine.  Earl and Howard worked for their uncle, and seemed to be the ones interested in equipping their crafts with internal combustion engines.  If Perrine was reluctant to incorporate this technology, it might explain why Lesley features fuel tanks while the younger Little Sister does not.  It is possible that their deaths may have ended the Perrine exploration away from traditional models.

In any event, J.H. Perrine had no children of his own, his nephews died, so the business passed to John Chadwick Sr. who lived and worked with him, and whose family worked as sailmakers. John Chadwick Jr. inherited the business from him, and while they ceased manufacturing in the 1980s, the plans and traditions passed to his nephew, Allan Chadwick.  He has since passed away, so the Perrine/Chadwick design is a little difficult to trackdown.  J.H. Perrine passed away in 1956, Little Sister was built some time around 1950, making it one of the later vessels that he was associated with.  Given his age at the time, it is completely possible that Perrine had very little to do with the actual construction of Little Sister, so while she bears his name, it is completely possible that it is a Chadwick boat.  If that is the case, it may be appropriate to think of Little Sister as one of the 15ft Diamond Class vessels associated with the Chadwick name.

I have not been able to track the ownership of Little Sister further back than George H. Stewart, so I have not been able to determine her lineage.  However, she underwent some repair work, performed by representatives of Perrine Boat Works, suggesting an ongoing relationship between buyer and seller and potentially making Stewart the sole owner prior to the Independence Seaport Museum.  The museum took charge of the vessel in 1986 from a summer cottage, suggesting that it served as a seasonal leisure vessel for Stewart.  This matches the information that has been given to me, demonstrating a turn to leisure and racing from hunting around World War I.  While John Brady from the Independence Seaport Museum suggested that these racing vessels would have been popular with yacht clubs, Timothy Hart from the Ocean County Cultural and Heritage Commission and the Tuckerton Seaport Museum suggests that yacht clubs favored the fleet production of the Beaton Boat Works while Perrine catered to customers less interested in fleet ownership and racing.  Stewart may have been an exemplar customer for Perrine as someone who kept his craft for leisure.

Little Sister represents the farthest that the sneakbox can get from its roots.  The nineteenth-century models were defined by their small frames and camouflage coloring, while Little Sister was built to sail.  She sports attractive paint, has no oarlocks or decoy compartments, and big enough to hold two or three instead of one.  While the freeboard on the bottom is a departure from the traditional design, the beam of this vessel would still allow her to navigate in shallow conditions.  Little Sister may not have been used for hunting, but her basic design suggests that she still could.

 

The Long Shore Leave of a Seasoned Steamer: Persevering and Presenting the U.S.S. Olympia – Reading Blog 5

Usually, when somebody wants to convey how revolutionary something is, they often describe it as “the coolest thing since sliced bread,” implying the sliced bread is one of the oldest and most popular revolutionary innovations in modern history.  That colloquial turn of phrase would not work in the case of the U.S.S. Olympia.  See, sliced bread came on the market sometime during the late-1920s, several years after the U.S. warship completed its final mission by returning the body of the Unknown Soldier from LaHavre, France in 1921.  And while bread seems like an odd sort of way to situate this historical vessel, I thought it would be in interesting segue into exploring the strange historical and technological context that this warship occupies.  From our modern perspective, this craft is older than old and yet for the late nineteenth century, it was a modern marvel. For a more complete and informed representation of the vessel’s history I would recommend keeping an eye out for an article that should be appearing in the  Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography in the near future entitled “Save the Olympia!: Veterans and the Preservation of Dewey’s Flagship in Twentieth-Century Philadelphia.”

The proofer, a temperture controlled enclosure that allows bread dough to rise
ovens for baking said dough, predating both electrical and gas ranges… no sliced bread for the boys on board

Commissioned by Congress in 1888 and contracted to San Francisco’s Union Iron Works in 1890, the Olympia was able to serve as Commodore Dewey’s flagship during the Battle of Manila Bay in 1898.  In order to help situate this vessel in time, consider that the Wounded Knee Massacre, associated with the end to the long and controversial Indian Wars only occurred a few years earlier in 1890. The controversial Dreyfus Affair associated with antisemitism in France occurred in 1894. The film behemoth, Eastman Kodak Company, was only founded in 1888 and it would be several years before Thomas Edison and William Kennedy Dickson would pioneer the Kinetoscope around 1893.  This is the same time in which the classicists Oscar Wilde, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling, H.G. Wells, and Bram Stoker are first publishing their works!  Theses are all examples of past events, figures, and developments that we take for granted as parts of bygone global history, and yet just a short trip from where I am typing, you can go and see a vessel that was conceived at the same time.  Heck, the wright brothers would not make their famous flight at Kitty Hawk until 1903, two decades into the Olympia’s career and shortly before she would receive her upgrades for the First World War.

a support system in the midst of the officer’s deck doubling as an ornate sitting area

The most obvious element of the Olympia is her shifting identity between modern metal warship and old school wooden sailing vessel.  Her haul is armored and constructed out of metal, and yet she features several masts as well as a considerable amount of wood.  Despite the masts, this warship is driven by coal-powered steam engines featuring a series of three pistons, the largest of which is seven feet in diameter!

Not originally this poorly lit, this stateroom serves as the officers’ mess and would feature all of the amenities of nineteenth-century civilized society

Right now, the one thing that is apparent to any visitor who tours the vessel is the vast differences between the living quarters of the officers versus those of the crewman.  Admiral Dewey and his subordinates may have experienced the finery that could be mustered at the time, but the enlisted men certainly did not.

An officer’s cabin, complete with bed, dresser, desk, and wardrobe… sadly, it may be larger than the room I occupied in my first apartment and is only slightly smaller than the office I currently share with two people… also it has a window unlike our office

Privacy seems to be a privilege experienced only by those in command.  If nothing else, this vessel’s built environment screams about the unequal class differences that permeated the navy and society at the time of construction.

A pictorial representation of the men who would have called the Olympia home during her time of service

With over 400 men on board, the Olympia had to be quite crowded.  In it’s current state, the vessel seems to be quite large and spacious which probably does very little to capture what it would have been like to be stationed on board.  Not to mention the fact that there is some space for the officers to relax and recuperate, but the enlisted men would be forced to stay in the same space that they ate, slept, and lived full-time.

One on the pistons driving the engine… that nut has to be roughly 1′ in diameter, about 4x larger than one of the actual pistons on the last car I owned

The museum has rigged up a sound system to mimic the background noise that would have accompanied the engine room, but judging from the cacophony that I have personally experienced around heavy machinery, I imagine it would be downright deafening when under full steam.

belt-driven lathe, drill press, mill, and shaper… my father has a lathe from the mid-1900s that looks very similar to these earlier models, the only real change is the move away from overhead belt drives

Complete with its own workshop, the Olympia is more than living quarters, vehicle, and weaponry.  Featuring heavy machinery that feeds off of the steam system, this boat was capable of fabricating anything needed for its upkeep… assuming the raw materials could be secured.

A view of the engine room, note the barrel-like wooden insulation used to regulate pressure and temperature

The engine room, normally closed off to visitors, demonstrates the interesting transitional technology that the Olympia housed.  While steam power was a common source of energy throughout the nineteenth century, electricity was not.  Not only did the Olympia feature electric lighting, she also was equipped with refrigeration, wireless communication and later received a prototype sonar device, a Fessenden Oscillator.  The electric lighting can be seen running throughout the ship and is little different from modern lighting other than the efficiency and output of the bulbs.  The refrigeration unit, or ice maker, can hardly be missed as it sits prominently near the crew’s mess.  Wireless communication came in the form of telegraph, hardly different from any other signaling device of that era, as far as I can tell.  Unfortunately, I was unable to see the Fessenden Oscillator, which sounds fascinating but also one of the problematic elements in preservation due to it being an upgrade rather than an original feature.  The museum has made a conscious effort to depict the vessel as it was originally intended, which means covering up and/or ignoring some of the upgrades from its long life.

One on the coal boilers, believe it or not, the head curator, Kevin Smith said that the ventilation kept the temperatures bearable for the crewmen despite what James Cameron might have you believe

I could not imagine moving coal around the haul compartments all day, every day nor standing watch over these massive furnaces.  Evidently, the Olympia also featured a rudimentary fire detection system that would notify the crew if and when the coal shifted and spontaneously ignited or smoldered in the holds.

The mess/crew quarters, these tables were stowed in ceiling racks so that the men had room to hang their hammocks

The crew quarters doubled as mess space as can be seen with the reproduced tables and several hammocks.  The museum is still in the process of developing this space as they are eager to use the space for functions and activities and yet would like to fill it in with objects in order to present a more realistic depiction.  I personally would love to revisit the ship if it contained all of the crowded, messy, and yet organized collection of gear associated with the crew.

The admiral’s washroom, kind of reinforces the concept of privilege
the crew bathroom, you would either get to know each other real quick or you’d be clamoring for a promotion just to get away from this
A vapor compression cycle machine which harnesses the heat and pressure produced by the engines to create negative pressure and produce… ice!

This has to be one of the coolest, pun intended, features on the entire vessel.  Most people do not associate the nineteenth century with refrigeration, and yet this vapor compression machine was not a new concept when the Olympia was commissioned.  It would be well worth it to develop this as an exhibit space in order to explain the fascinating science behind the machinery as well as tie it into the state of commercial and private refrigerating during this time.

The kitchen, located in the center of the mess… oddly, there seems to be more space here than in either of the restaurants I cooked for
Coal stoves, vaguely reminiscent of the cooking equipment at my elementary school… also in better condition than the stove supplied by my landlord

As some one looking to explore further into food studies, especially within the military historical setting, I am not sure what to do with this mess but I may find my way back here to look into the changing nature of naval rationing in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

glass and wooden panels on the gun turrets… classy and terrifying at the same time

I have largely ignored the Olympia’s armaments up until this point because of the preservation quandary that they represent.  This vessel and the fleet that it was a part of featured prominently in the Spanish-American War, and although decommissioned at the time, would have a causative relationship to the Philippine-American War that followed.   The modernization and expansion of the U.S. naval forces as represented by this vessel demonstrates an “early commitment to the kind of gunboat diplomacy that its European rivals had wielded.”  Even if it had not been involved in the imperial land grab of the Spanish-American War, the creation of the Olympia demonstrated a more aggressive global stance than coastal constabulary.  Yet, this element of its history, or at least the history of the context to which it may have been tangential to, is largely absent from its interpretation.  I am not suggesting that the whole vessel be transformed into a symbol of white-male guilt in an effort to demonize the past, but there are very few ways in which these global and international incidents can be brought to life in a U.S. domestic setting.  As the last surviving vessel of the Spanish-American War, does not the Olympia have a responsibility to tell that history?

Memorial, Commemoration, and Monument in the Slipstream of the Independence Seaport Museum – Reading Blog 6

As someone who is relatively new to the city of Philadelphia, I was not intimately aware of the Independence Seaport Museum or the neighborhood surrounding it.  I had no idea that the highways under construction were separate from the derelict support structures on bygone gondola projects.  Evidently, this area of Penn’s Landing has a long and ongoing history of construction in an attempt to turn it into a feature that can be utilized by citizens, transportation, and tourists.  To someone who is more an outsider than others, it comes across as an area undergoing an identity crisis… a teenager who is frustrated by a lack of identity and yet determined to have one none the less.

The Monument to Scottish Immigrants

Kirk Savage writes at length on the long history of conceiving of, planning, starting, stalling, and adapting the construction of the Washington Monument in D.C.  He presents a story in which Washington himself, and those who succeeded him were concerned with how a single individual should be remembered and how that memory will serve the developing nation as well as continue to evoke a response from those who visit it.  I cannot help but look at the incomplete and in progress elements of the museum’s setting and compare it to the lengthy gestation period that led to the creation of the infamous white obelisk that watches over the nation’s capitol.  I can look to the past and see the development that attempted to take place but may not have succeeded, and I can look to the future and see the development that is attempting to take hold.  However, the present seems to be the most interesting because it embodies a miasma of confusion… a statue only half carved, still trying to claw its way out of the marble.

Irish Memorial

In the midst of all of this, and setting my strange review of urban space slightly aside, is a series of plaques, statues, memorials, and monuments that if you were not looking for them, you may just miss them altogether.  If you were to set the museum at the center of your map, you would find it to be the epicenter of several large features.  To the north, you would find two memorials: one for Scottish immigrants and the other to Irish immigrants.  To the southwest, you would find three memorials: one to the Vietnam War, one to the Korean War, and the humble Beirut monument.  South of the museum you will find the ribbed phallic obelisk complete with twin spheres at its base dedicated to the 500 year anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ voyage to Hispanola… 1,400 odd miles from Philadelphia… resplendent with the modern Italian national colors…  To the southeast, you will find the Moshulu, windjammer turned restaurant, the Gazela, Portuguese fishing vessel, the Becuna, a World War II era submarine, and the Olympia, a battleship from the late-nineteenth century which is so interesting but I do not want to get into it now (seriously, go see it while you can!).

Philadelphia’s first root beer… sadly no one thought to put ice cream in it at the time

Of course, these are only the largest features as there is a myriad of plaques dedicated to various people, events, locations, and movements which could probably fill a book.  If we are to return to Savage’s words, I would like to contemplate what the desired reaction was intended to be elicited by this collection.  Individually, they seem to serve a certain purpose of commemorating the past, but with a shadow of self-interest for the identity groups that either built or would visit them.  Not to undermine the importance of Irish and Scottish immigration and their impact upon American history, but I found myself asking “Why here?” and I honestly could not come up with a better answer than “This is the symbolic port and therefore gateway to the city.”  Somehow that did not seem to be enough.  Whatever response was intended was certainly undermined by the adjoining dog park that almost trivializes an area trying to establish reverence.  Speaking of trivia, the path that connects these monuments to the museum is lined with plaques that highlight various firsts that the city experienced (first root beer for example) leading me to question how accurate/exaggerated they are and why they are in such disrepair for such modern installation.

Christopher Columbus Manhood… I mean Memorial

I think the most obvious and pervasive element that contributed to this effect is the shear amount of advertising that covers all of these monuments and pulls the visitor out of the experience.  While they all seemed to blatantly flaunt donors, sponsors and various contribution sources, none were as classless as the Korean War memorial.  The center feature of this memorial is a series of pillars featuring the names of those who served and died in the military action.  Surrounding these are several walls containing historical information about U.S. involvement in the proxy war.  The problem is that the internal pillars are obscured by the outer walls to passersby requiring visitors to enter the memorial in order to view it.  While this is sound logic in terms of environmental psychology, it is undermined by the fact that those outer walls are plastered with the commemoration of sponsors.  The need for funding is a sort of cruel reality that encapsulates public commemorations, but almost all of these monuments are distressingly plastered with sponsor information, so much so that the advertisements overpower the historical significance.  If you consider the Korean Memorial again, passersby would only see a cropping of pillars covered in corporate, private, and public funding information so that without entering, would not understand the intention of the memorial for Korean War veterans.

An example of the personal tributes found on the inner pillars of the Korean War Memorial pointing to casualties outside of the official dates

This idea of emotional investment and participation that goes into the creation and life of commemoration is reflected in the words of Seth Bruggeman and Erika Doss.  She writes that, “Commemoration, in other words, is typically discursive–a kind of conversation, an act of speech or performance, a form of communication–that occurs when publics come together to remember, to honor, to celebrate, and/or to mourn people or events deemed significant, or exceptional, at particular moments.”  However, the public seems to be largely absent from these particular conversations.  Granted, I have not spent a ton of time in the museum’s neighborhood, but that time that I have spent there seems to demonstrate that the neighborhood suffers from a lack of visitors.  Maybe lack is to strong of language, I have certainly seen less visitors in the area than I have in the vicinity of Independence Mall, for example.  So, I may be completely off base, however my current interpretation in that these memorials were created less out of public outcry for their emotional memories of the past and more about creating positive publicity for sponsors in an area attempting to be developed as a domestic and business space.  I do not believe that they mean to trivialize the past, but the association with commercial investment certainly undermines the power of emotions that commemoration is supposed to instill in exceptional moments.

ALL HANDS ON DECK – Running Afoul at the Tuckerton Seaport and Baymen’s Museum

If you like maritime history and you are a fan of the Independence Seaport Museum, then it is well worth it to take a drive over to New Jersey and visit the Tuckerton Seaport and Baymen’s Museum… in fact, if you plan your trip correctly you may just be able to see the haunted house version that they put on for Halloween!  Just a short trip from Philadelphia, the Atlantic City Expressway will take you through the marshlands and pine barrens that have populated the literature describing sneakbox culture.  Charlie, Derek, and I even joked about not seeing any half-drunk sportsman out in the reeds prowling for waterfowl.  Once you complete your expedition, you will be graced with a lovely complex of building designed to walk you around their estuary port and familiarize you with many aspects of the regional maritime culture.  Much of the information that they have on display will confirm what you get from Bishop, Chapelle, Stark, and Hufford (bonus for Hufford if you visit during low tide and get a whiff of the bog stink that the sailor’s in her work discussed).  All in all it is a lovely complex that would appeal to the whole family.

If you were looking to learn more about the sneakbox and the reproduction of Perrine’s workshop that they have on site, consider calling ahead because you may drive over an hour only to find it closed for the day.  If that is the case, please do inquire after Timothy Hart, when he is not working as a historian for Ocean County, he volunteers his time at Tuckerton, may just open all the locked doors for you, and send you on your way with copies of every file they have (seriously, I may have to make him a co-author on anything I write now!).

The first thing worth mentioning is the production of bog iron that took place in the New Jersey region during the nineteenth century.  Without investigating more into the process, I am only comfortable saying that bog iron is a naturally occurring oxidation process that leaves impure iron deposits in swamps and bogs… almost like a microscopic sluice mining undertaken by spring water (angry geologists and chemists can address their letters about my God-awful scientific explanation to my office).  The important take away was that there was ore that could be harvested from this region and smelted.  Smelting required furnaces, about 50 operated during this period, and fuel to heat them, enter the pine barrens.  During this time, Tim informs me that there was also a booming charcoal and fuel wood industry, so that combined with the furnaces resulted in deforestation from the Atlantic Ocean to the Delaware River by 1850.  If that was in fact the case, it would have made the materials that the sneakbox was made of, developing during the same period, a resource that was less abundant and more sought after. Were the boat builders on the shore shipping the cedar in? (Clarification is clearly needed)

The other thing to consider is the deforestation’s effect on soil erosion combined with saw dust sediment deposited into the rivers.  Tim had some theories as to why the waterways in the region remained so shallow and whether or not ecological change factored in this.  Local lumber industry may have affected the region in the same way that Andrew Isenberg noted that mining affected the Sacramento River.  If there is any weight to these theories, both land and industry may have dictated the form of the sneakbox.  In any event, I will need to factor in a Crononesque analysis of the region to determine how the environment was affected by boat building and how boat building may have been affected by the changes in the land.

Which reminds me, I may have to revisit the concept of Barnegat Bay as a region categorization and whether it should even be attributed to the sneakbox!  According to Tim, Barnegat Bay is an expansive term that has been forced upon several distinct locations as an ill-fitting check-all term.  For instance, they would say Tuckerton Bay before they ever said Barnegat.  Of course, this was the point in the day when my note taking became less than diligent, so I will need to revisit the specifics with him in order to be more concise and accurate but for now I will leave it as challenging the collective identity of the region.

This is an important distinction to consider within sneakbox research as it gives us more distinct patterns of consumption and use when discussing the maritime vessels.  Tim went so far as to confirm the history that has been presented to us through readings and by John Brady.  However, he seemed to deviate by suggesting that the 20th century practice of competitive sailing and buying in bulk for yacht clubs would have been a more northern practice associated with Beaton’s Boatyard.  Perrine is suggested to fit the more southern sneakbox culture, and while still mass produced, were associated more with pleasure and leisure than competition.  Apparently, there was quite the export business associated with the lake regions of New York, he tells me that Perrine even sold a sneakbox to the actress Gloria Swanson for her use in the Adirondack Mountains (had to Google the actress, the mountains I know).

In any event, I went to Tuckerton hoping to get answers to my questions and may have ended up with more questions to find answers for.  But seriously, if you have the time go and take a look, it’s a pretty neat museum complex!

A Certain Amount of Risk – Object Exercise 3

After reading David Pye’s thoughts on workmanship, it was time to step into the Independence Seaport Museum’s workshop and get acquainted with the difference between craftsmanship and production.  Without a solid definition on what workmanship is, we are left with context clues that point towards a generalized action of fabrication in which material is transformed into an object for a particular intent or purpose.  This is implicit as a given variable in Pye’s work.  Instead, he is much more interested in defining the line between skilled and unskilled, between intimate and impersonal, between individual and mass appeal, and between quality and efficiency.  At the center of his work is his definition for craftsmanship:

“Workmanship using any kind of technique or apparatus in which the quality of the result is not predetermined, but depends on the judgment, dexterity and care which the maker exercises” (Pye, p.342).

Craftsmanship can be seen as the intimate application of skill upon material during which the maker undergoes an intimate and individualistic experience with the object that he or she is attempting to bring to life.  Pye uses the dichotomy of risk versus certainty to define a process that is sacrifices regulation for style, leaving room for spontaneity and improvisation leading to diversity rather than uniformity.  While not referring to the same topic, I cannot help but think of James Morton Turner’s article on woodcraft in which he points to Ernest Seton’s Woodcraft for Boys creating this echoing refrain urging readers to “‘know the pleasure of workmanship, the joy that comes from things made well by your own hands’,” begging to prevent the world from becoming “little more than an accumulation of artificial, manufactured goods,” (Turner, p.465).  Craftsmanship represents production born of emotion while production looms as the cold netherworld of consumption.  Can you tell that I may have I bias?

Getting into the museum’s workshop most definitely represented an opportunity to chase the frustration and joy associated with constructing something with your own hands.  I must admit, I was a little disappointed to learn that we would be building pinewood tool boxes, an activity my father used to introduce me to workmanship when I was just a tike, and which the museum usually reserved for adolescent visitors.  But, there is only so much we could have done in such a sort time which also needed to accommodate varying levels of experience and skill.  The upside to this assignment was that I could switch to autopilot while I contemplated the difference between craftsmanship and production (and to be completely honest, drool over the lovely hand tools and stockpile of materials that the museum has access to… is it too late for a career shift? Would my landlord would let me pay my rent in handcrafted boats?).

We were all presented two rectangular prisms, two amorphous blanks, a trapezoidal prism, a length of rod representing the pieces of pine and oak that were meant to be fashioned into a simplistic toolbox.  Given that the blanks were relatively uniform, rough cut, and piloted for handles there is little doubt that what we were undertaking was a form of production.  Sure, there was a certain amount of risk associated with the accuracy of the sawn edges and angles, as well as a certain latitude with each individuals skill, focus, and patience but for the most part we were all constructing the same object.

The element of risk that is inherent with craftsmanship is ultimately defined by an overwhelming sense of freehand work, pure in form and beholden only to the maker’s experience with the material.  So, we have to wonder at what point of complexity does a tool remove the maker from the realm of freehand, at what point do templates, jigs, and machines remove he or she from the pure art form and cast them into production.  This is important to Lesley, Little Sister, and Perrine as Pye’s concepts are incorporated into the solution of Prown methodology and Glassie folk.  On previous occasions, I have pondered whether the sneakbox in fact counts as a folk, and for the sake of argument we will say that it is.  However, Bishop and Seaman place its origins sometime around 1836, with Perrine operating within the 20th century, we have to wonder whether his processes would be considered a continuation of the original folk form or whether the movement from hunting vessel to leisure/pleasure boat places his fabrications in the bastardized category of tradition imitating folk.  If we are to consider Pye in these regards, we would need to ascertain how regulated Perrine’s process was, how spontaneous and improvised each boat design was, and whether there was a uniformity to his sneakboxes.  While far removed from the cold and calculated production lines of Fordism, Perrine’s shop may represent a means of accessing a mass market.  With that in mind, his workmanship may align closer to traditional production and farther from folk craftsmanship.

While we discussed the ancient tradition associated with toolboxes and braces, the use of power drills and machine-manufactured, zinc-plated wood screws removed what we were doing from the realm of folk and placed us heavily into traditional building.  Despite the intention that all of our boxes have a uniformed finish, each one has its own imperfections, either in material or through construction, that reintroduces the idea of diversity, spontaneity, and improvisation.  Is there any absolutes to be found in this quagmire of material culture, or am I resigned to tack from one wind to the other until a port of call shows up on the horizon?… at least this is not boring!

A Stem to Stern Overhaul of the Experts: Making a Research Methodology – Reading Blog 2

Having looked at several models of material culture and object study methodology, it is time to decide the best course of action for research Perrine’s sloop.  Carson seems to list a series of general material culture genres that could be useful.  First, he discusses interpolation as the overlaying of objects to “explain the meaning of their relatedness and their significance historically,” which is the essence of comparing Lesley to Little Sister (Carson, p.406).  However, I do not believe one single genre is sufficient to explain the material culture of a single sneakbox as a microhistory for the entire classification.  He also mentions theoreticians, which is not only useful for identifying bias but also connects object study to “theoretical development worldwide,” enhancing concepts of academic authority and perhaps bridging the divide between public and academic spheres (Carson, p.409).  If interpolation is the significance that the historian places upon an object, then theory should be what guides that process.

However, these two approaches favor object analysis and material culture from the here and now, not to say that they do not consider the object’s past but Carson’s contextualism bears mentioning.  Context is more than mere setting and plot that define time and space, it constructs an understanding of how individuals in the past “consciously and unconsciously” interacted with object setting to “order and conduct their everyday social relations,” (Carson, p.415).  Whatever understanding that interpolation and theoreticians build of the immediate object, contextualism helps to expand the significance to the world that would have surrounded in.  The extreme of this is seen in Carson’s final genre which seeks to explore “materialistic values” that allow material culture to speak to a national and international scale (Carson, p.420).  To present a truly objective analysis of an object and create the most compelling presentation of an object’s meaning in the past, in the present, and how that may have changed over time, elements from all four of these genres are needed.

The best way to go about researching Little Sister is by applying the microscopic to global aspirations through an amalgamation of Prown and Ott’s object analysis guides.  The first thing that needs to be recorded is the emotional response.  Prown notes that emotions are very much a “subjective response,” but he fails to consider the impulsiveness of emotions (Prown, p.9).  Emotions are immediate and subconscious with an ability to change over time.  As much as historical work is about asking questions that can either be answered through research or left enigmatic, material culture should ask why the immediate emotional response occurred and what that tells us about the object’s most basic effect.  In other words, material culture should always be concerned with the initial response and whether than carries weight or gets in the way of the concluded significance.

From here, Prown divides his methodology into three steps: description and deduction which primarily engage internal evidence, and speculation which not only deals with external evidence but also affects the conclusion.  There is value in the subsets that are listed within each of these however they require further rearrangement and reorganization.  Prown has a postscript in which he discusses the quantitative and stylistic analysis of art history and archaeology which are more effective categorizations if the end goal is to approach Carson’s global perspective. Therefore, the first step to follow emotional response would become quantitative analysis in which the object is subjected to sensory engagement, substantial analysis, and content analysis.  This would then be followed by stylistic analysis composed of intellectual engagement, formal analysis, and the search for external evidence.  Only after exploring the object, the individual, the immediate setting, and their expansive universe can theories be formed and hypotheses tested.

Prown is correct when he says that sensory engagement is “empathetic” and is pivotal in placing the observer within the context of the represented world (Prown, p.9).  The problem with this, like emotional response, is that it relies upon the subjective interpretation of the observer.  The easiest way to convey the difficulties surrounding this is to point to Hufford who notes multiple meanings surrounding the interpretation of swamp stench (Hufford, p.55).  As much as sensory information provides usable data with which to construct an imagining, there is no guarantee that the observer will have an accurate, representative, or the intended imagination.  As with emotions, it provides instinctual conclusions that need to be supported or broken through objective analysis.

The quantitative approach is most useful in the gathering of physical description and iconography.  This is the most objective element of object study and leaves little room for subjective bias.  The “account of the physical dimensions, material, and articulation of the object,” ultimately relies upon the use of sensory faculties which is another reason why that engagement needs to come first (Prown, p.7).  Following this comes the cataloging of the object’s content and “overt representations,” little intimate knowledge about Perrine or sneakboxes to recognize that Little Sister’s hull is painted three separate colors and their specific layout (Prown, p.8).  These are classified under quantitative analysis because it is important to keep in mind how unique versus representative this object is within its own place and time as well as the present (Prown, p.11).

The next step is to apply stylistic analysis to external evidence to assess the validity of initial summaries as well as place it within “broader diachronic and geographic consideration,” (Prown, p.11).  Prown initially included his intellectual engagement in his deduction step along with sensory engagement with the intention of determining “what it does and how it does it,” (Prown, p.9).  However, this too relies upon some level of intimate knowledge about the object.  Someone who is only familiar with canoes and small sailing crafts with lanteen sails might have a rough understanding of Little Sister but it would be too easy to project the wrong mechanics onto the spritsail and riggings of the sneakbox.  Therefore, the intellectual engagement while informed by the form and configuration of formal analysis, must really be guided a program of research that provides external evidence (Prown, p.8;10).  While initial responses are helpful, they leave the potential for incorrect understandings that can corrupt research until evidence corrects them.  Better to start with the evidence and have informed understandings, which would also prevent the ego of perceived expertise.

Lastly, there is theory and hypothesis.  Prown states that, “it is impossible to respond to and interpret the object in exactly the same way as did the fabricating society,” which is useful in reminding the observer that as much as he/she might want to believe it, they can never truly be transported into the past.  The best that can be hoped for is an understanding and an empathy.  This is where Ott’s symbolic power comes into play because it recognizes the complexity of object identity over time as well as acknowledges that the significance of an object can be both immediate and expansive in geographic and intellectual concepts (Ott, p.757).  By applying Prown’s methods an observer might understand Little Sister within the confines of the Perrine or the larger 1950s sneakbox market, but Ott expands this one sloop to a regional analysis of what Hufford calls a socionatural system that develops around geography, society, and culture (Hufford, p.42).  An effective object analysis of Little Sister in the vein of material culture would build the longer narrative of the sneakbox as an element of regional history and charting its evolution from what Glassie would define as folk to something more traditional (Glassie, p.12).

Swimming in Terminology – Reading Blog 4

There are strange things done in the midnight sun,

By men who moil for gold

The Artic trails have their secret tales

That would make your blood run cold;

The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,

But the queerest they ever did see

Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge

I cremated Sam McGee.

This is the opening and closing stanza to a poem published by Robert W. Service in 1907.  I first heard this read on a cold winter’s day in 1999 at Braddock’s Bay Park, outside of Rochester, New York where a group of Webelos Scouts and I were competing in our first Klondike Derby.  Having just set the record for fire-starting against boys twice our age, the gentleman running that station entertained us with the haunting beautiful poem about the ill-fated adventures of a fictional Yukon prospector.

Of course, this has little to do with Lesley or my pending research on Little Sister, but John Stilgoe discusses the etymology of many terms that deal with the physical forms and depictions of land, sea, and where the two meet.  He discusses modern conceptions of margins and marginal being rooted in the archaic marge meaning coast or shore.  At the mere mention of the word, I am transported back to brisk landscape of a snowy park, a gravelly voice reciting a grim verse, interspersed by the crackling of a dying campfire.  From the context of Service’s poem, the connotation of marge is easy to understand as littoral in nature, and yet I had no formal knowledge of the word and its scions until almost twenty years later.

Anecdote aside, the act of clinically defining where land meets the sea and how we have chosen to depict that in both culture and language hearkens back to the reading of Latour and company.  As much as they wanted us to consider the ambiguity between being and object in the study of material culture, so to does Stilgoe want us to recognize the ambiguity between land and sea in terms of shore.  If we are to view the seashore as the extent to which ocean can reach into land, then we are inadvertently transferring a maritime identity onto anything that is influenced by the sea.  Are the objects that interact with this physical space apart of the seashore?  Does the ambiguity between being and object link people to the seashore?  Therefore, I think there is fundamentally environmental aspect to our study of material culture, something that may be at odds with Prown’s exclusion of natural objects yet connects to Hufford’s socionatural system.

As much as Stilgoe seeks to unify landscapes by blurring their borders, Upton takes the opposing point of view by pointing to the fragmentary nature of seemingly unified landscapes.  When considering architecture, Upton considers the space surrounding the buildings as well as the local context in which they and their inhabitants belong.  While the Olympia parked outside of the Independence Seaport Museum may not be a derelict nor completely landlocked as the Alice May in Service’s poem, yet the retired vessel has somehow become a part of the marge of the Delaware River.

The media crew takes stock of some of the greatest rowers that the material cultures course was able to scrap up

The exploration out into the off-channel docking are in row boats challenged our understanding of the Olympia as an object as well as a landscape.  Our past experience with the warship has been to observe it from the land as we go about our business at the museum.  In that way, the ship has merely been an extension of the museum itself and arguably extends the architectural environment of the museum into the river.  However, switching to the perspective of the vessel, Stilgoe may argue that as an object intended to interact with the open water, it may be more appropriate to consider its presence as a means of extending the river onto the shore.  In either case, the mere presence of the warship unifies the landscape of river and shoreline.

Professor Bruggeman lectures from starboard amidship of the U.S.S. Olympia

Once on the water, our perspective shifts to the immediacy of our vessels so that the various watercraft in the vicinity become separate objects within a similar setting.  If we are to apply Upton to the situation, the uniformity of the landscape seems to fall apart.  The small boats require water to float in, by their nature the shoreline offers a clear and distinct border between land and water.  Backing up further, the channel in which the Olympia is moored and within which we are rowing is a relatively calm offshoot of the main river and its current.  It could be argued that the existence of the jetties that divide the two bodies of water arguably fractures their connection as a singular landscape.

The dashing crew of the Kraken size up a battleship

The clearest sign of a lack of uniformity within objects and landscapes can be seen in the waterline of the Olympia.  Over a century of life in the water has created an oxidation reaction on the metal haul where the water and atmosphere meet.  The reality is that if the craft stays in the water without service, the natural chemical reaction to the environment will continue to degrade the haul and compromise its integrity.  In terms of uniformity or lack there of, the river is literally attacking the Olympia for being in it.  Since we have long ago entered the realm of metaphor, I would leave it up to the observer to to determine whether we can view this as the water drawing the vessel ever more into the landscape, eventually eating through the haul and sinking the vessel and anchoring it permanently or fracturing it as a separate object reluctantly and painfully occupying an unforgiving landscape.

Come on Folks, Let’s Talk Definitions – Reading Blog 1

Up until this point, we have been operating with the methodological knowledge prescribed to us by Jules David Prown and Cindy Ott on how to go about observing objects.  To that, we have added a certain amount of theoretical ambiguity fueled by Bruno Latour, Erving Goffman, and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi to debate where the distinction between individual and object lies or if there is even a distinction at all.  However, throughout all of this we have been operating with a presumed knowledge of and definition for material culture.

The methodology the Prown presents is a step-by-step guide to analyzing objects.  Beginning with description, he encourages objects to be observed through substantial analysis, content analysis, and formal analysis.  This hones in on basis physical description, evolves into identification of iconography, and ends with the purposeful configuration.  Next, deduction can be split into sensory engagement, intellectual engagement, and emotional response.  Our senses provide a wide variety of data input that is democratic by granting authority to most individuals, potentially creating objective interpretation.  Intellectual engagement works as sort of a checks and balance to the senses by ascribing a limit to theory based on rational understanding of what the object does and how it does that.  Lastly, emotional response allows us to develop a response to the item in the here and now developing either a continuity or change with the past.  From there, Prown would have his investigators speculate hypotheses before applying external research to test them.

While Ott may offer a slightly different approach in her analysis of giant pumpkins, the more important part of her methodology is highlighting the biases that we form from our own cultural perspectives and the importance of cultural context within which the object was produced.  This means that we need to fight the urge to label a unique form of agriculture as a quirky aspect of American rural life as that creates an opportunity to overlook the cosmopolitan element of horticultural competition.  By setting bias aside, we are able to recognize that giant pumpkins developed in part as an element of spectacle that could become advertisement, and in doing so become an element of both tourism and capital market economy.  This goes to show that the knowledge about objects that we create by ourselves is potentially limited when compared to the external knowledge that can complicate our observations.

Without getting lost in the quagmire that is theory, Latour et al would have us contemplate the metaphysical delineations between ourselves and the objects that surround us.  Reduced to their simplest conclusions, these theories would have us recognize the dichotomy or symbiosis in which we ascribe meaning onto objects at the same time that they ascribe meaning on to us. If we bring Ott back into the conversation, then we must recognize that this mutual definition takes place in a constant ping of metanoia making context extremely important to each iteration of the relationship between individual and object.  This creates a complexity of microcosm for the owner inside the macrocosm of his or her time and place, combined with the microcosm of the observer inside his or her macrocosm of time and place.  In other words, where do we find objective answers in an approach ruled by layers of subjectivity?

And after you lie down for a nap in order to clear your head of all of that, it might be a good time to inject some more authentic definition.  While Cary Carson has much to say about what material culture is, where it came from, and what it can potentially grow into, my take away is that he is defining pattern recognition that incorporates an interdisciplinary breadth allowing it to be so many things without limiting it to any one concentration.  The universality of material culture in which all individuals create and surround themselves with certain objects allows for an unfettered potential to study all of human history, teasing out the myths that prevail around objects.

Henry Glassie gives us a definition of material culture as human learning that provides plans, methods, and reasons for producing things.  He then complicates this by introducing the   prefix and adjective “folk” which classifies material culture that is a relative minority within and isolated from larger society.  For the sake of our understanding of Lesley and my personal understanding of Little Sister, I have to consider whether or not the the sneakbox would have been an element of folk society and whether it ever stopped being folk.  If we consider the original hunting format of the sneakbox: this was a specific form created by a specific people, marketed for local use, and crafted from local material… I would think it was safe to say that this early version of the sneakbox was folk.  But, we see the form change over time with its primary characteristics becoming more concerned with sailing and less with manual movement through swamps and marshes.  Does this give the vessel secondary characteristics as a recreation craft different from before? Have the culturally significant attributes changed?  If so, are these later racing sloops less folk and more traditional?  This is keeping in mind that according to Glassie, folk is never a part of the academic, elite, or popular culture… so at the very least, we are not ascribing folk to these crafts by making them academic inquests.

Which offers us a nice segue into Kenneth Ames.  He defines traditional objects as long formal sequences with minimal change over considerable time.  This is opposed to horizontal objects that feature short formal sequences over a brief period before elimination or change.  While potentially different, they can form horizontal constellations that cluster objects in interlocking sequences.  I am hesitant to think of the sneakbox as traditional by Ames’ definition as it did feature change over time.  However, who is to say how much change and time is required before loosing that label?  I am apt to believe that the sneakbox is several horizontal objects that maintain Glassie’s definition of folk at times, his definition of traditional at others, and form a horizontal constellation over all.

Objective Analysis – Object Exercise 2

In order to better understand the maritime culture that Lesley is a part of, each of us has been assigned an object that would have been a part of the sneakbox history in the Barnegat region.  The object to which I have been assigned is a 15′ sneakbox designed by J. Howard Perrine, the same builder responsible for Lesley.  Having the same builder, Lesley being built in the ’30s, this one being built in the ’50s, Lesley being 20′ long, and this being 15′ long she is in many ways the younger sister to Lesley.  The records that accompanied this craft do not list a name associated with this vessel, but for the sake of narrative I will refer to her as the Little Sister or Sister for short.Using the methodology provided by Jules David Prown, I would like to begin my description of Sister with substantial analysis of her physical form.  The hull is 15′ long, has a beam or wide point of 70″ (5’8″), a depth or vertical measurement of 19″, and draft of 7″ when in water, closer to 3′ when the scimitar centerboard is lowered.  Without being able to take more direct measurements of Lesley it is difficult to tell whether or not Sister is truly a 3/4 scale.

 

Looking at the iconography, you can see that Little Sister is painted a reddish brown which I can assume rises just above the draft line when she sits in the water.  Above that, she has a baby blue strip that borders the brown before making a stark transition to an off-white, presumably much brighter in her younger years.  The paint on Sister is much more intact than on Lesley however there are subtle similarities that lead me to believe that this scheme would have been what Lesley looked like before her long sojourn in the elements.

Part of carft’s configuration includes a 165 square foot main sail along with an additional jib.  This is extremely interesting as my previous understanding of sneakboxes and spritsails lead me to believe that the Sister‘s mainmast should sit roughly 1’ to the stern of the bow.  A jib is usually a forward sail that acts as an airfoil to stabilize turbulence against the mainsail, an element that would plave the Sister further into racing territory and far afield from the sloop’s hunting roots.  However, the sneakbox mast is so far forward that a jib would have little room to rig between the bow and mast.  That is not forgetting that in a full run, with the wind to stern, sneakboxes had the potential for running under, I cannot help but wonder if a forward jib would have potentially increased the likelihood of this occurrence making the Sister more dangerous than the average sneakbox and therefore more appropriate for the professional seaman.

Unfortunately, the Little Sister is kept on the uppermost reaches of the Independence Seaport Museum’s display racks.  So until accommodations can be arranged, my sensory engagement is limited.  Which is bad for analysis, but good for me as I was less than eager to taste boat wood from before my parents were born… am I using Prown’s methodology correctly on that one?

What I was able to see from a distance, was the more pronounced strake, acting somewhat as a keel in theory giving it more stability than its hunting ancestors, and yet still flat enough to sail in 7″ of water… swallow enough for me to walk through without worrying about water flooding into the top of my boots. If I had to guess, I would say that the centerboard is set roughly 3′ astern from the bow.  It can be seen in the above images in its closed position it looks to be roughly 3/4 the length of the hull, making it roughly 5′ long.  However, in the open position, the draft is a mere 3′ which would include a portion of the hull being below the waterline.  I can therefore safely assume that its 5′ length does not protrude from the hull in a vertical fashion but rather forms the hypotenuse of an acute triangle that favors the stern of the craft.  This leaves me to wonder how effective the craft performs when it begins to heel.  The bottom of the sloop also features a skeg or deadwood that forms a keel to the stern of the vessel running about 5′ and rising roughly 6″ to meet the transom at the stearn.

I can tell from the accompanying documents that the museum received the Little Sister as a gift from a George E. Stewart in August of 1986.  The provenance says “traded for Hopkins (Mystic 81.11.) 15′ sneakbox in 1986 RBA.”  I will have to do a bit more digging to understand whether the owner or the museum did the trading of the Sister as the Mystic may or may not be another craft that is or was in the museum’s possession, hence the reference number 81.11.  There is also a letter from a Roger B. Allen, Curator of Watercraft, to Mr. Stewart thanking him for the transaction.  The letter hints that the Little Sister may have been stored at Mr. Stewart’s summer cottage.  While this leaves me with two individuals to possibly contact, the letter also mentions chemotherapy on the part of Mr. Stewart, making it possible for the previous and perhaps original owner to have passed away due to complications with cancer.

This also tells me that Sister may have been exposed to the elements during her stay at the cottage, evidence of which can be seen in the images.  There are a number on imperfections in her paint job where the nail heads have disturbed the smooth finish.  While this allows me to locate the futtocks that compose her frame (one every 1′ for a total of 13 plus the bow and transom, giving us 15 stations for potentially taking lines), it also tells me that the boat’s wood swelled and shrunk over the years.  As the wood swells it would have pushed against the nails and paint, leaving dimples when it shrunk during the drying process.  Now, perhaps this is a natural wear and tear associated with a wooden boat and a life on the water, or it could be that she was left out in the weather.  I am inclined to believe the former, as the Sister‘s condition appears nowhere close to the desperation of Lesley.

The provenance also tells me that Little Sister underwent a mast transplant at some point in her life.  Originally, Perrine had the craft fitted with a round mast, but at a unknown time the builder or his representative made a house call to refit it with a square mast.  This is interesting as Lesley, who is older, features an octagonal mast, meaning that Perrine may have altered his building techniques over the years.  The notes label Little Sister as an “atypical” design due to its square coaming and lack of a bowsprint.  Until I can arrange a viewing of the upper hull and cockpit, I cannot speculate as to what this means.  I can note that both Lesley and Little Sister are atypical sneakboxes in their own ways.  I have to wonder how unique Perrine made each of his crafts rather than following some sort of archetype.  For that matter, I have to wonder how unique each sneakbox is from any builder, and whether an archetype for the style of craft even exists.

Level With Me

Lesley has not had the best home life, our sneakbox has been left exposed to the weather and improperly cradled so that the hull has a massive hole in the port side, favoring the prow.  What remains of the hull has long since passed the point of repair and the rotting timber would little tempt a termite.  The quality of the boat’s building material along with the compromised integrity to the framework, makes it nigh impossible to level the boat for a proper examination.

because of the compromised frame, moving one jack can cause the the boat to warp and bow instead of leveling

Ideally, to take lines off of a boat, one would look to cradle the craft on a smooth and level surface and begin the process of jacking the hull in order to level it along its x and y axes.  With that being done, a draftsmen could establish set points parallel to the crafts’ center line and begin the intensive process of transcribing coordinates in an imaginary three-dimensional plane that represent the shape of the hull.  This process begins at the prow and progresses to the stern by documenting a series of stations. Lucky for us, the sneakboxes follow the design guideline of placing the futtocks 12″ or 1′ apart.  If Lesley is 20′ long, she would have 18 futtocks plus the transom at the stern and the strake at the prow, giving us 20 easy to locate stations.

this pine post and its mate at the stern provide a center line used to craft an imaginary reference grid

Traditionally, lines would be taken at each station by using a plumb line to locate the distance from the ground, and a ruler or tape to measure from that point to either the center line or the parallel guidelines.  The process would start at the keel and work its way up to the gunwale.  The melon seed shape of the sneakbox gives these crafts the added detail of an upper hull which would mean that the line taker would need to replicate the process at each station moving from the gunwales across the decking to the center partner plank.

Behold the 21st century!… slightly obscured by Lesley is the prototype Bruggemeter… or Brug-o-meter?… a jig harnessing laser-levels to locate x and y positions much easier

Unfortunately, any attempt to level Lesley results in the compromised frame shift along one of its other axes.  If the craft cannot be leveled, and the hull damage has altered the form from its original design, is it even possible to document her lines?  The physicality of Lesley has long passed the point of preservation, but to think that she may not be able to be preserved through documentation is a wholly depressing idea.  Hopefully, our digital solutions will yield more encouraging results.