Richard Scofield retires after three decades at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum

Richard Scofield of Royal Oak, Md., has retired from the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum after more than 30 years of service.

Working on boats since he was 12 in his hometown of Stamford, Conn., Scofield has been connected to the Chesapeake region his entire life. Spending summers on the family farm in St. Michaels, he has been on a sailboat as long as he can remember. He joined CBMM’s shipyard during the summer of 1980, and after four years at Higgins Yacht Yard in St. Michaels, he returned under Tom Howell as a full-time rigger, painter, and shipwright in 1985. In 2005, Scofield became the shipyard’s manager, and in 2011, was appointed Assistant Curator of Watercraft.

His responsibilities included curating and maintaining CBMM’s collection of historic Chesapeake Bay watercraft-the largest in the world. In addition to assisting with many of CBMM’s exhibition and restoration projects, he oversees the maintenance and crew of the 1920 buyboat, Winnie Estelle, which takes passengers and school groups out on scenic river and ecology cruises throughout the warmer months.

“Richard has been on our staff longer than any other staff member in the history of CBMM,” said Chief Curator Pete Lesher. “His depth of knowledge about our historic boats and the stewardship he exercised toward them is inestimable. In numerous ways, he is simply irreplaceable.”

Scofield began working on boats as a child in his great-uncle’s boatyard in Stamford, Conn. He later went on to earn his Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. Two days after graduation, however, he found work restoring and crewing on Gleam-the oldest, active 12-meter sailboat in the world-and hasn’t stopped working the trade since.

Scofield has been connected to CBMM since its 1965 beginnings, when his grandparents’ close friends, Vida and Gus Van Lennep, helped found the museum.

Over his career, Scofield has seen CBMM grow from a small local museum to an internationally recognized institution, today drawing more than 80,000 guests annually. Reflecting on his service with CBMM, Scofield is most proud of keeping CBMM’s collection of boats maintained and afloat for more than 30 years, and of its professional shipwright apprentice program.

“Teaching the next generation, knowing the skills will be there to maintain boats like ours-that’s so important,” Scofield said. “Now, graduates from boatbuilding schools are seeking experiences with us, and often are competing for these opportunities among their peers.

“At the end of the day, it’s still all about doing something different. Teaching people, helping them appreciate the Chesapeake Bay, and its culture, and its history.”

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Richard Scofield