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Reedville Fishermen’s Museum will present skipjack discussion

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Mike Vlahovich restores the skipjack “Caleb Jones,” built in Reedville. (Photo by CHA)

Mike Vlahovich will present “Saving What Matters: Skipjacks, Skills & Stories” at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 25, at Festival Halle, 177 Main Street, Reedville. His visit is sponsored by the Reedville Fishermen’s Museum.

Descended from a long line of Croatian commercial fishermen and boat builders who immigrated to the Pacific Northwest, Vlahovich was raised in Tacoma and Gig Harbor, Washington. He fished commercially from Baja, Mexico, north to Alaska, always on the heavy wooden workboats of his heritage, reported Kathy Elsden.

During the ‘80s when the West Coast was heavily transitioning to fiberglass workboats, Vlahovich was determined to continue to work in wood so he came East. He and his family settled in Fairport, where Vlahovich worked as lead carpenter at Jennings Boat Yard and learned all there was to learn about Chesapeake-style deadrise and cross-planked construction. 

He returned to the Pacific Northwest for a short while but was urged back by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to take charge of the restoration of their skipjack Stanley Norman in St. Michael’s, Md. It was here that Vlahovich was noticed by The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. The museum was in the process of working out a program with the State of Maryland to restore skipjacks, explained Elsden.

Vlahovich was hired as the museum’s yard manager and charged with restoring the bay’s vanishing skipjack fleet.

The skipjack City of Crisfield, built at Rice’s Boatyard in Reedville, was the first boat restored through that program. In 2003, he founded the Coastal Heritage Alliance, dedicated to the preservation and advancement of the cultural heritage of commercial fishing families in North America.

posted 04.15.2015

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