The Spirit of Roanoke Island, completed in 2000 by volunteers of the North Carolina Maritime Museum on Roanoke Island, is a fine example of the shad boat. A traditional work boat built of juniper (Atlantic white cedar) and fastened with copper rivets, she carries a sprit mainsail, jib and topsail.
Volunteers and the public alike learned about this innovative design firsthand, by building the shad boat through a "hands-on history" experience. They used the same traditional materials and techniques as George Washington Creef had done nearly 122 years after the first shad boat was developed.
Visitors were able to watch as the shad boat slowly emerged from lofting plan to a fully realized vessel, the air fragrant with the scent of juniper. Plank by plank, the Spirit of Roanoke Island took shape in the boathouse named after Creef and passed down through his family to become a state maritime museum.
Today, some 130 years after the first shad boat came off the blocks, the Spirit of Roanoke Island continues to demonstrate an important part of North Carolina's maritime heritage through educational activities, both on and off the water.
She is regularly featured at wooden boat shows and maritime events and was on display at the 2004 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Each summer, museum visitors can step aboard for a short sail out into Shallowbag Bay, while a volunteer recalls the days when shad fishing was an island mainstay.
In 1987, the North Carolina General Assembly recognized the cultural significance of the shad boat, designating it as the official State Historical Boat.
A grant from the Percy and Elizabeth Meekins Trust funded construction of the Spirit of Roanoke Island.
From her initial construction to summer sail-aboards, the Spirit of Roanoke Island is an example of the museum's commitment to learning by doing.
North Carolina Maritime Museum photographs