Rock of the Eye: Boatbuilding Traditions around the Albemarle Sound

By on September 20, 2022

Schooner Under Construction, ca. 1898
Fearing-Hayman Boat Works, ca. 1902
Brig Pyomingo, built in 1799
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Opens October 10
Museum of the Albemarle, Elizabeth City
Rock of the Eye: Boatbuilding Traditions around the Albemarle Sound

Boatbuilders have been constructing vessels to ply the waterways of the Albemarle region for thousands of years. With many traditions passed along by generations before them, these crafters have shaped the Albemarle region into a diverse maritime haven by connecting communities together. Whether building boats for business or recreation, or used as a means to freedom, boatbuilders, along with their vessels and shipyards, have impacted the maritime history of this region.

Boatbuilders of the Albemarle region have constructed renowned vessels for many uses, both work and pleasure, many by intuition and feeling, the “Rock of the Eye.” Builders pass along knowledge and technique from one generation to the next: each adding their own unique yet innovative and daring style, making boatbuilding imperative to our culture. Combining traditions with passion, commitment, and technology, boatbuilding has become a respected legacy in northeastern North Carolina.

A few still build their own boats in their backyards, working tirelessly to keep traditions alive. Many coming from long-standing fishing traditions, these boatbuilders take pride in their work as they ensure that the art of boatbuilding continues for future generations. To learn more about boatbuilding traditions, please come and view our newest exhibit, Rock of the Eye: Boatbuilding Traditions Around the Albemarle Sound. The exhibit opens October 10 and features graphics and artifacts that exemplify boatbuilding traditions that tie generations and communities together, showcasing the Albemarle region’s strong, diverse maritime heritage.

Please visit the Museum of the Albemarle to view this and other exhibits Monday-Saturday 10am-4pm. The museum is located at 501 South Water Street, Elizabeth City.




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