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2022 Traditional Artisans: Marlinspike Seamanship

August 20, 2022 @ 10:00 am - 4:00 pm

Photo of the lines and sails of a Tall Ship by Petty Officer 1st Class Lauren Jorgensen (CC License)

The Sackets Harbor Heritage Area Committee is organizing a series of Traditional Artisan demonstrations this summer. The second event in the series is a demonstration on Marlinspike Seamanship on Saturday, Aug 20, from 10 am to 4 pm, at the Pickering-Beach Museum, at 501 West Main Street.

Marlinspike Seamanship is a collective term covering all aspects of the rope, lines, and canvas on-board tall ships from the 19th century. This includes ocean-going vessels, deep water ships on the Great Lakes, and whaling vessels. The name “marlinspike seamanship” is derived from the marlinespike, a handheld, metal, cone-shaped tool that was used in knot tying, splicing, and sewing. Today, marlinspike seamanship is generally thought to include rope making, knot tying, sail patching, lashings, whippings, and more that’s done aboard traditional tall ships.

Master Blacksmith Michael McCarthy, owner of Growling Anvil Studios in the Mohawk Valley, NY, will present this traditional artisan demonstration, which will focus on the creation and use of ditty bags for sailors on tall ships. Michael has been a metal sculptor and blacksmith for more than 20 years. After completing his education, Michael toured the United States, studying with smiths, and made a number of trips to Europe, Asia, and Africa pursuing experienced-based processes. He apprenticed with Paul Spaulding for three years at The Farmers Museum, in Cooperstown, NY, and later took over the shop. In 2008, Michael left the museum and opened his own private metal fabrication, art studio, and blacksmith shop. In his spare time, he enjoys studying pre-industrial methods of craftsmanship, from traditional fiber arts and sewing to marlinspike seamanship.

The 2022 Sackets Harbor Traditional Artisan series is sponsored by the Village of Sackets Harbor. The goal of the series is to showcase the skills and expertise of area artisans and give modern audiences a glimpse into how these craftspeople performed complex work in a simpler time. The series will continue on Saturday, Sept 24, with a demonstration on Traditional Soap Making.

For more information on any of the demonstrations, please contact the Sackets Harbor Visitor Center at 315-646-2321.


August 20, 2022
10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Event Tags:


Sackets Harbor Heritage Area Committee
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Pickering-Beach Museum
501 West Main St
Sackets Harbor, NY 13685 United States
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