Miss Polly Makeover

Three members of the Ruark Boatworks team work on lowering Miss Polly into the water. Standing on the boat is Seven Martinson. Standing on the deck are Peter Zukoski (partially blocked by hoist mechanism) and Jim Brighton.

CAMBRIDGE — Five years is a long time to spend hanging out over the Choptank River, exposed to wind, rain, snow, and salt. That’s why Miss Polly, the replica tender boat at the Choptank River Lighthouse, will be missing from the view during the coming weeks on the waterfront at Long Wharf Park in Cambridge.

A crew from the nonprofit Ruark Boatworks spent the morning of Friday, Nov. 13, gently lowering the 22-foot-long Miss Polly into the water at the Cambridge Yacht Basin. She was then towed into Cambridge Creek and hoisted up onto the ground at Yacht Maintenance, Co. From there, she was scheduled to make her way to the boatshed on Hayward Street where Ruark’s team of woodworkers tackles various restoration and maintenance projects. That’s also where Miss Polly was originally constructed back in 2015.

“Basically, we’ve asked the Ruark Boatworks team to do a thorough inspection, cleaning and painting — whatever it takes to make Miss Polly look and feel like new again,” said Cassie Burton, the present of the nonprofit Cambridge Lighthouse Foundation, which works to promote, enhance and preserve the Choptank River Lighthouse.

The foundation raised private donations to pay much of the bill on this project. In recognition of the difficult fundraising environment in a pandemic year, Dorchester County Economic Development awarded the Foundation COVID-19 Relief funds to help complete that fundraising work and keep up with essential maintenance jobs like this.

“A key part of our mission is helping to preserve the Choptank River Lighthouse so that it continues to serve as a beacon for our community for many decades to come,” Burton said. “Conducting maintenance like this may not be especially glamorous, but it’s an essential part of tackling that preservation mission work in a responsible and cost-efficient manner.”

Ruark Boatworks operates under the umbrella of the Richardson Maritime Museum. Its crews work on vessels in a repurposed century-old barn that now serves as a boatshed. Back in 2015, the Ruark team constructed Miss Polly from scratch. The vessel’s name is a tribute to a nickname of the late Pauline Foxwell Robbins. The Pauline F. and W. David Robbins Charitable Foundation was a key funder of the construction work.

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