Ida May Launches At Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park Boat Ramp

The Ida May, ready for painting, after the completion of the planking. (Photos by G. Ellis)

The crowd watched in awe as the shipwrights hammered the trunnels into the “whiskey plank” on the hull of the replica oyster harvester Ida May, on Friday, April 7. The trunnels (wooden “tree nails”) had been signed by those who were hands on with the construction of the boat. The “whiskey plank,” is the traditional name for the final, or “shutter,” plank that completes the shape of the hull. The planks of the Ida May are steam-bent white oak, fastened to the oak frames with stainless steel lag screws and black locust trunnels.
It was a very meaningful moment as participants wrote their names onto trunnels that were then driven in to become a permanent part of the strength of the ship for its lifetime. “The ship was built to last 100 years,” shipwright Josh Herman promised while he oversaw the meticulous construction.

The Ida May, showing the gap, before the final plank was fastened onto the boat. (Photos by G. Ellis)

Christeen Oyster Sloop Preservation Corporation President George Lindsay said, “The completion of the planking is a milestone in the construction of a wooden boat. Now we must work quickly to caulk and paint her in order to get her into the water as soon as possible, before the wood dries too much and opens up the seams.” It was all hands on deck as they were busy painting the hull of the boat over the weekend.
The launch of the Ida May is scheduled for Wednesday, May 3, at 10 a.m., on the high tide, at the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park boat ramp. There will be celebrations and speeches to recognize the contributions of volunteers, shipwrights and donors (both governmental and private), as well as appreciation for her future role connecting people to the water at The WaterFront Center.
There will be a party May 4 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at Cooper Bluff to celebrate the construction of Ida May and her successful launch: donation $60. To register for this event visit

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