Workshop on the Water Projects

Take a look and learn more about current and past projects in the Workshop on the Water at Independence Seaport Museum. 

Current Projects:

19' Big Ben Garvey - SAILOR STEM Program 

Commenced: Fall 2018

This is the eighth consecutive year for the SAILOR STEM Boatbuilding Program and the first year students have constructed a boat of this size. Each year, our SAILOR students come from local public and charter schools in Philadelphia to experience hands-on traditional boatbuilding from start to finish. We begin the program with basic fundamentals of boat Physics from the Archimedes Principle to the Science of Sailing, and work our way up to tool safety and the advanced Mathematical skill of Lofting to teach the students orthographic drawing techniques. After they've experienced these background pieces to the boatbuilding process, they are ready to get their hands into the Engineering and Art of wooden boatbuilding, creating something tangible and functional out of what was a pile of rough sawn lumber. 

The 19' Big Ben Garvey is a v-bottom garvey with bow and stern transoms, along with a 40 horsepower outboard motor. Our students are constructing this with traditional plank on frame techniques, mahogany on oak. Since this is the first time we have built a motorboat in the program, the students will have a chance to help with the engine install and systems work. The boat will have forward and aft seating, along with a center console for a capacity of 10 passengers. Garveys are traditionally designed  to be workboats, and this one will follow that tradition supporting the Museum's various needs in the basin and on the Delaware River. 

Contact us for more information about the SAILOR Program. 

Past Projects:

MisLeading Lady

Commenced: Ongoing since, Fall 2013
Finished: Fall 2018

MisLeading Lady is a Ventor Runabout, built in Ventnor, NJ in 1926. Owned by George Wimburg, the Workshop on the Water has committed to restoring her to original integrity.


Cruiser Olympia Skylights

Commenced: Fall 2016
Finished: Fall 2017

 Being of Victorian design and lacking air conditioning, Cruiser Olympiawas built with a series of wooden skylights to provide ventilation and natural light to key areas of the crew living spaces - especially for officers.The original 124-year old skylights are currently being restored back to functioning order. These beautifully made skylights will not only improve the visitor experience, but will also provide their original function of ventilating key spaces on the ship during the hot summer season. A total of four original skylights will be restored. 


Corinthian Sloop

Launched: Summer 2017

Designed by Philadelphian Thomas D. Bowes, Naval Architect, and built in Holland in 1951. One of eight built for the Corinthian Yacht Club of Essington, PA, for competitive sailing on the Delaware River. It is one of three still in existence. Construction was Mahogany on White Oak frames. It was restored for use in the water in hopes of revitalizing interest in the fleet. 

Cruiser Olympia Tables & Benches

Commenced: Fall 2016
Finished: Winter 2016

Period-authentic mess tables and benches were replicated for Cruiser Olympia. These benches closely match the original mess tables that would have been present on board during the ship's active service and serve to interpret the lives of the regular sailors aboard. These are also used for visitor convenience and Museum programming, which allow for better functionality of the ship in the modern world and a better sensory experience for visitors. 

National Whaleboat Project

Commenced: Whaleboat 1, June 2011. Whaleboat 2, January 2013.
Finished: May 2013

The whaleboats were built in conjunction with the ongoing restoration of the whaleship, Charles W. Morgan. Built traditionally with plans from the Beetle Manufacturing Company, these whaleboats ended up as a part of the ongoing efforts of the Mystic Seaport to share the rich history of whaling along the New England Coast. 

For a complete overview of the project, go to Whaleboats for the CW Morgan



LOA: 35''
Commenced: December 2012
Finished: May 2013

Suzy is a meadowlark that was in for repairs which included updated interior, new head system, mast step, and re-caulking parts of the hull. She has a wood hull, was designed by L.F. Herreshoff and is owned by Mark Gallini. 


LOA: 16''
Commenced: December 2012
Finished: February 2013
Obadiah is a Marsh Cat that came in for complete hull repair. The entire keel was repaired, as well as all laminations in the hull. Obadiah is owned by TSCA member Dr. Pete Peters.


14' Whitehalls

LOA: 14''
Beam: 4'
Launched: 2012

As part of our ongoing volunteer program and partnerships with local schools, we built two 14' Whitehalls as additions to our summer rowing program.


Elf is a topsail sloop designed and built by George Lawley in 1888. After a long career and numerous rig changes she was restored by the Classic Yacht Restoration Guild, relaunched in 2007, and rigged later that year. Our shop designed and built her rig using period photographs and the original builders notes. Elf was featured in issue 209 of WoodenBoat Magazine and sails on the Chesapeake Bay. 


Pilothouse Bridge

Launched: 2007

This recreation of Cruiser Olympia's original Pilot House with furnishing was built in 2007 after painstaking research in our own archives. The bridge is where Admiral Dewey uttered the words, "You may fire when ready Gridley", and is currently the one area that shows what the entire vessel looked like when new. 

Silent Maid

LOA: 32''
Beam: 12'
Launched: 2009

Designed by Francis Sweisguth and built by Morton Johnson of Bay Head, NJ, the original Silent Maid cruised and raced on Barnegat Bay. The original boat is in storage, and this new boat built to her lines sails the Barnegat. The details of her construction can be found here, and some of her racing and cruising adventures can be seen here



15' Sneakbox 

The 15' sneakbox is a racing class descended from the hunting boats of Barnegat Bay. This example was restored by the Workshop working with volunteers and students from the Charter High School of Architecture and Design.  


LOA: 28''
Launched: 2008

Our fifth A Class Catboat, Spyder, was designed by Francis Sweisguth to compete against boats designed by Charles Mower. These boats have been racing since 1923. The original fleet of 6 boats has grown to twelve in recent years as the original were restored and new boats built. In addition to Spyder our builders produced Tamwock, Vapor, Spy II, and Torch.