Who We Are

Chris Collins. Photo by Sarah O'Connor.

Chris Collins at Kids’ Pirate Festival, 2007. Photo by Sarah O’Connor.

Heart of Oak is the brainchild of Chris “Ekk” Collins and Sarah O’Connor. The two of us build and maintain all vessels and gear, with a pool of volunteer crew who attend events based on geography and availability. We are a collection of individuals with a love of the maritime world, living history, traditional watercraft, and things that go boom. Some of us are professionally trained historians and museum educators; others have 20+ years of experience in traditional skills such as blacksmithing and historical costuming. Participating in historical reenactments is a way for us to indulge our hobbies and share them with the general public. New England and Canada have a rich historical tradition that’s often overlooked.

Chris and Sarah live on a 40 acre farm in Northern Vermont, which provides enough room to keep a ropewalk, a small shipyard, and a blacksmith’s shop; all interspersed with a variety of livestock and enough of a woodlot to keep us in spars and oar. This allows us to produce most of what we need for accurate portrayal of age of sail material culture created in an authentic manner.

Sarah O'Connor. Photo by Brian Chabot.

Sarah O’Connor. Photo by Brian Chabot.

Merganser can be run single-handedly if necessary (without the cannon), but we usually carried 3 or 4 crewmen for tacticals. For events that feature troop landings as part of the simulated battles, we’ve been able to carry up to 10 soldiers with gear and lifejackets. Merganser was sold in 2013 as our next vessel, Heron, approaches completion. Heron is a much larger sailing vessel which will carry a larger crew and more cannon. Follow her progress with news updates!


Join the Navy

Some of the Crew, Plattsburgh 2009.

Some of the Crew, Plattsburgh 2009.

We are often looking for additional volunteer hands for a weekend or two at a time (possibly more, eventually). Potential crewmembers should be able to follow directions and have a sense of humor.

Boat experience and/or weapons experience is good, but not necessary. (We can teach you.) The basic skillset involves pulling an oar, handling lines, and safely using flintlock pistols and muskets. We also interact a lot with the public, so enthusiasm for hands-on education is a definite plus.

Our event schedule currently takes us all over New England, but with the completion of Heron we will be traveling up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

Interested? Get in touch with us via our contact form.

Toasting The Wooden Walls Of Columbia

Some of the Crew, Plattsburgh 2009.

Some of the Crew, Plattsburgh 2009.

One Response to “Who We Are”

  1. Thomas Pray says:

    Nicely done. I enjoyed reading and looking at it all.
    May I say Huzzah.

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