BLOG STARTS UP JUNE 2014
The restored Museum now has its own Blog (click blue link in heading). The Facebook link is given further down this page. The museum is dedicated to “preserving the History and Heritage on a tiny island”. Apart from anything else, this references the Cay’s rich boatbuilding tradition, which continues to this day. A Rolling Harbour post on this subject is below.
BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER RESTORATION
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MAN-O-WAR CAY, ABACO: THE HIDDEN BOAT-BUILDING VILLAGE
I am very pleased to be able to feature a Guest Contributor Fabian Fernander, managing editor and owner of SANDY SLIPPER TRAVEL and online magazine. The boat-building history of the Bahamas, of Abaco, and in particular of Man-o-War Cay, is a fascinating one. It is not a subject in my own repertoire, so I welcome the chance to showcase Fabian’s article and the wonderful historic photos courtesy of the MAN-O-WAR HERITAGE MUSEUM.
“Who would ever think nestled in the heart of the Bahamas. Hidden away from view. Inaccessible by large planes and removed from the hum of technology; would be a boat building village in the Bahamas.
Man of war cay (named after the bird) is a small yet well knitted community of bustling boat builders, that have been graced with their skill from generation to generation.
Residents here have always depended on shipbuilding for its livelihood and some boats are still handmade-without-plans in a tradition that has been passed down for centuries.”
“The town has remained untransformed over time and resembles a New England sea-side village; and rightly so.
As its original inhabitants were both religious and political escapees; loyalist to be exact.
It is through resilience that these men and women who fled from their homes, picked up and honed the trait of boat building.
In the early days of boat building the residents began by using Abaco Pine to craft their world renowned fishing and sailing vessels.”
“Boats were originally built by crafting a skeleton or rib of the boat from pine that grew locally in the Abaco forests. These skeletons were then hand carved and shaved to conform perfectly to the palms-up-spread template of the hull.
After the ribs were coupled, pine wood planks were then affixed to form the hull of the boat.
During the 1960′s when Abaco pine became a quintessential element in building structures and homes in all of the islands, the procurement of pine for boat building became harder and harder.
It is during that period that innovation reared its head once again and fiberglass became the material of choice to continue the successful process of building renown fishing and sailing vessels.
Using fiberglass as molds was a very expensive process, but in modernization a necessary tool that reduced the amount of manual labor required.
The frame of the wooden boat was coated with the fiberglass material and from this a permanent mold was created, which was then used to make the outer shell of numerous boats.
This style of boat is called the Outboard Runabout (or the Outboard Fishing Boat).
Many other types of boats are also made including model boats, 14 ‘ wooden Man O’War sailing dinghies and 21′ Man O’War speed boats.
The boats have become collectors items and much requested custom designed artifacts.”
“Man o’ War Village: another one of the hidden secrets of the Bahama Islands”
“About the author: Fabian Christopher is the Managing editor and owner of Sandy Slipper Travel and online magazine. An avid enthusiast of the Bahamas, he is always ready and available to make your vacation dreams in the islands a memorable experience.”
Photo credits MAN-O-WAR HERITAGE MUSEUM
(except for historic 1803 aquatint header of the ‘late’ Hole-in-the Wall)
[RH note: If you have enjoyed this article, I recommend a visit both to Fabian’s website (link in the first para), and to the Museum’s website, also linked above, where you will find a wealth of historical Abaco material]
MORE USEFUL MOW BOATBUILDING LINKS FROM BAHAMAS_GEO_TOURISM
“S/V William H. Albury, pictured here, is now back in Man-O’-War. She arrived here on 5/25/14 after a 26 day passage from Jamaica. For details go to:https://www.facebook.com/svWmHAlbury She will go on the ways in the yard where she was built on Thursday, 5/29/14″
The following boats are moored and can be seen in the harbor at Man-O’-War Cay:
- S/V Sea Fever
- S/V Lively Lady
- S/V Rough Waters
- S/V Tribute
- S/V Lady Di
- S/V Man-O-War is on display at the Man-O’-War Heritage museum.
- Also, a number of wooden boats and dinghies built by Willard, Joe and others of the Albury brothers can be seen at the docks in front of Joe’s store.
For photos of the William H. Albury under construction, go to:http://www.mowmuseum.com/William_H._Albury.html
For a history of boat building on Man-O’-War, go to:http://www.mowmuseum.com/Our_Boat_Building_Heritage.html