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About the Author

Rob portrait

Rob Pittaway and Russell DeMarco

Photograph by Susan Tamulevich

    Rob Pittaway, the author of Building the Half-Model, grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, attended Colorado College and in 1970 completed a graduate program in naval architecture at the University of Michigan. He and his late wife Louise soon moved to Connecticut where Rob was employed for two years at General Dynamics' Electric Boat Division in Groton. This was followed by a stint at Mystic Seaport Museum’s Small Boat department, during which Rob made many half-hull models. Of particular note were five half-hulls of the Seaport’s historic schooner Brilliant, commissioned as gifts to major donors supporting the restoration of America’s last whaling ship, the Charles W. Morgan

     During Rob's time the Small Boat department was headed by the late John Gardner, an expert on small boat construction and restoration and a prominent figure in the national revival of interest in wooden boats. Today the mission of the Museum's John Gardner Small Boat Shop is "to study, teach and encourage the construction and use of traditional small sailing and rowing boats." (Museum website, 2020)  Rob is a member of the John Gardner Chapter of the Traditional Small Craft Association based at the University of Connecticut's campus at Avery Point, Groton. He has always been an avid sailor, of course, and Louise shared his interest in all things nautical as curator for many years of Stonington's Lighthouse Museum.

     Rob is also a member of the New London Maritime Society and is founding co-host with Russell DeMarco of the revived Jibboom Club meetings at the Custom House Maritime Museum. Currently suspended due to the COVID 19 pandemic, these gatherings feature informal talks on nautical topics followed by discussion and refreshments.  The original Jibboom Club was formed by some of New London's 19th century sea captains as the era of wooden whaling ships faded and the fusion of steam technology and iron ships was revolutionizing the commercial and naval maritime world.

R.Carr inscription Watercraft book

Frank L. McGuire Maritime Library

The gift of Rob Pittaway


by Maynard Bray

Mystic, Conn., Mystic Seaport Museum, Inc., 1979

      The McGuire Library copy of this handsome book is the gift of Rob Pittaway, inscribed to him by Museum director Revell Carr with thanks for his contributions: fifteen lines plans and construction details for eight types of small boats, drawn by Rob between 1973 and 1976. The skill with which he drew these plans is also manifest in the simple drawings he made for Building the Half-Model, a monograph he wrote in the 1970s.

     This illustrated catalog of the watercraft collection was written by a former Shipyard Supervisor who in the 1970s oversaw the refloating of the star of that collection, the whaleship Charles W. Morgan, seen at the left in the jacket photograph. Printed in Connecticut, the book was designed by Behri Pratt Knauth, who chose the Baskerville font for the headlines and captions, it being, in her words, as "classic and graceful of line as the watercraft it describes."


     Editor's Note:  Because Rob planned and wrote Building the Half-Model more than forty years ago, it should be kept in mind that modelmaking (of all kinds) has evolved in many ways with the advent of computer technology.  As a glimpse of modelmaking in the Seventies, before computerization began to have its pervasive impact on virtually all aspects of life, Rob's text conjures up the era of the slide rule, typewriters, and tilted drafting boards - well remembered by designers and draftsmen of a certain age.

                             ---Brian Rogers, Online Exhibits Curator