Margaret Bonds Podlich, BoatU.S. President
This spring, I became immersed in the current nonfiction bestseller Washington’s Spies,
the story of America’s first spy ring. As a
U.S. history major, these stories, the people and places, all surrounded by and
accessed by water, fascinate me. This month, for instance, we have a terrific feature
for you called “The Real McCoy,” about a swashbuckling character from the 1920s who
was one of the most wanted men in America. Bill McCoy was a devoted boater who
made his fortune rum-running during the height of Prohibition — a “gentleman crook”
as famous as any movie star of his time. Today, part of his boat, Arethusa, is
preserved in the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Virginia, and her lines plan – showing
where he ingeniously hid the rum! – is in the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.
I spent a day at the Mariners’ Museum not long ago and was lucky to get a behind-the-scenes
tour. In addition to inspiring exhibits, I got to see exquisite tools, boat parts, model boats, art,
and as-yet unrestored historically-important boats, all neatly organized and waiting their turn for
restoration. Now, I can’t wait to get back and find what’s newly displayed.
Visiting American maritime museums brings to life people like Bill McCoy, their boats, and
our colorful boating heritage of exploration and adventure. This summer, learn about them
firsthand by visiting one of our extraordinary American maritime museums:
■ Mystic Seaport (Mystic, CT), with its 19th century coastal village, and working shipyard
where the replica Amistad was built. See the restored whale ship Charles W. Morgan.
■ Mariners’ Museum (Newport News, VA), founded in 1930, has 558 acres with 35,000
items in their collection, including works of art, boats, canons, small craft, and a USS Monitor
exhibit. (Get a $2 discount with your BoatU.S. membership card.)
■ Maine Maritime Museum (Bath, ME), upstream from Bath Iron Works, see the sculpture
representation of the 450-foot, six-masted Wyoming, the largest wooden sailing ship ever built.
■ National Museum of the Great Lakes (Toledo, OH), is all about boating and shipping.
Visit the cargo steamer SS Col. James M. Schoonmaker, in 1911 the biggest ship on the Great Lakes.
■ Columbia River Maritime Museum (Astoria, OR), with 44,000 square feet of exhibits,
plus the Columbia lightship and Pilot boat Peacock, which crossed the notorious Columbia River
bar more than 3,500 times.
■ Independence Seaport Museum (Philadelphia, PA), on the waterfront downtown,
has an active youth group; community boat-building programs; the 1892 Olympia, the oldest
steel warship afloat; and WW2 sub Becuna.
Wherever your boating adventures take you this summer, I
hope you’ll look for these special places, and many other marine
museums, and bring your families to visit. As boat lovers, the stories
within these walls – and within these hulls! – will delight you as
much as any movie or good book, and remind you of the amazing
people in whose wakes we go boating today. See you on the water!
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department, or to learn more about joining
BoatU.S. call 800-395-2628 or email
BOATU.S. CHAIRMAN & FOUNDER
Margaret Bonds Podlich
CONSULTING EDI TORIAL DIRECTOR
EXECUTIVE EDITOR Michael Vatalaro
MANAGING EDITOR, PRIN T & ONLINE
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©BoatU.S. Magazine (ISSN 1090-1272) Published
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States, 880 South Pickett St., Alexandria, VA 22304
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Contact BoatU.S. for permission to reprint articles, (703)
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VA 22304 (2015).
VOLUME XXI, No. 3, JUNE/JULY 2015