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By Dan Dickison

The Lowcountry Maritime Society – Heading Back to the Future Only two years old, LMS is already sparking interest in the region’s maritime heritage. By Dan Dickison Photos courtesy Lowcountry Maritime Society


hen you think about it, one of the more compelling aspects about coastal communities is that there’s almost always some focus on a particular region’s maritime history. Go to Boston and you can visit Old Ironsides (the USS Constitution, launched in 1797 and still floating). Go to St. Augustine, FL, and you can take a gander at Lowcountry Maritime Society volunteers pose with students from Sanders San Agustin, a 30-foot replica of the chalupa long- Clyde Middle School at the launching of two new, student-built skiffs. boat that Spanish explorers relied on over 400 years ago. Go to Charleston, SC, and you can often see Milling’s initiative didn’t flourish, a young boatbuilder the Spirit of South Carolina, the 120-foot wooden pilot named Prentice “Trip” Brower took over the organization schooner launched in 2007 to help revitalize interest in the and began steering it in a new direction. region’s rich maritime past. in 2015,” explains Brower, “along with two good friends, None of these vessels would be afloat today without the we launched boat-building programs at two local schools. collective energies of hundreds of volunteers, individuals During our first semester of operation, we provided 55 stuwho understand the importance of preserving such touch dents the opportunity to build wooden skiffs.” Supported by points to our maritime heritage. In Boston, those efforts are grant funding, these volunteers spent four days a week and organized by the Naval History and Heritage Command. In one weekend each month helping the students fabricate two St. Augustine, you’ve got the St. Augustine Maritime skiffs at each school. “It was hard work,” he says “but it was Heritage Foundation doing much of this work. And in extremely rewarding. And the result was really unexpected: Charleston, there’s now the Lowcountry Maritime Society. everyone loved it and wanted more!” Though the Lowcountry Maritime Society (LMS) has no Brower points out that LMS is focused on providing direct involvement with the Spirit (which was built by the STEAM-related education (science, technology, engineering, now-defunct South Carolina Maritime Foundation), it’s art and math) through hands-on learning opportunities that nonetheless making significant inroads toward revitalizing are relevant to the students and the community. interest in the region’s maritime history. And it seems that “Boatbuilding is our primary program because it provides this fledgling nonprofit is just getting revved up. the perfect platform for teaching math and engineering, and Established only two years ago, LMS was the brainchild relating that work to our marine environment and culture,” of Matt Milling, who sought to develop programs that he says. “While building these boats, we teach students about would get youngsters out sailing aboard a wooden the significance of these and other vessels and of our region. schooner that he had purchased for that purpose. When The Lowcountry is a water-based region and we firmly

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