Working The Boats: Masters of the Craft

Directed by Claire Andrade-Watkins
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 Dear Friends,  We are pleased to announce that we have reached our $10,000 goal:  $8,505 in online donations and $1,495 direct mailed/special event donations.  Many of you have donated more than once, and we appreciate your faith, support and encouragement for the long haul as well as this final campaign that helped us cross the finish line for this  documentary webisode This campaign has provided us with working capital that allowed us to move forward and work on the episodes.  The special screenings of each completed episode has brought much joy to  and positive feedback that is encouraging and uplifting .

The first three episodes are running as a 30 minute special program on P.E.G. TV-RI in February and March.  Check our website for  dates and times as well as  updates on the  remaining three episodes and information about subsequent screenings and broadcast of the webisode.

Donors will receive a credit on the films as well as a password protected preview of  each of the remaining episodes as we finish them.


What is Working the Boats: Masters of the Craft about?

Working the Boats: Masters of the Craft, a six part documentary webisode, captures the golden years of Local 1329 of the I.L.A. (the International Longshoremen’s Association) in the voices of those who built it and from the community they supported. Founded in Providence, Rhode Island in 1933 by Manuel Q. Ledo, a Cape Verdean community leader, Local 1329 of the I.L.A. (the International Longshoremen’s Association) was the first predominantly Cape Verdean labor union in New England.

“Masters of the Craft” refers to the men in charge of the gangs that unloaded and loaded cargo in the ports of Providence. It was a job that demanded great skill: it was a major mark of distinction to rise through the ranks and become a walking foreman, or “Master of the Craft.” Local 1329 was the “table that fed the community”: it was a way of life, not a job, and the economic lifeline for three generations of Cape Verdean men from Fox Point who worked the boats in the ports of Providence.

The l940s to early l970s was a booming period for the waterfront. Providence, Rhode Island was one of the busiest ports on the eastern seaboard, with scrap iron and loose lumber being two of the biggest cargos coming into the Port of Providence. “Working the Boats” was the economic lifeline for the Cape Verdean community, providing jobs and security for between 200 to 250 Local 1329 members and their families. Jobs were passed down from father to son, and new members learned their “craft” on the job from their fathers, brothers, cousins, neighbors and extended family.

The horsing around, pranks, fights, tragedies and stories about the old country, Cape Verdean mariners and whalers became the lore of the waterfront that was shared over meal breaks or the long bus rides back and forth to the ports further down Narragansett Bay at Davisville, Quonset, Portsmouth, or Melville. The webisode brings the story to the present, as modernization, cranes, generational tensions and changing demographics are distancing Local 1329 from the traditions and lifestyle that sustained a community.

Working the Boats: Masters of the Craft brings this unique story to life through rare 8mm footage, photographs, and interviews shot on location at the Cape Verdean Progressive Center in East Providence, RI. with three generations of Local 1329 longshoremen, retirees, their wives, and daughters. This webisode is one of three documentary features about the Cape Verdean community in Fox Point, and the second in a trilogy of documentaries about this vibrant community of immigrants from the Cape Verde Islands in the Fox Point section of Providence, Rhode Island. “Some Kind of Funny Porto Rican?”: A Cape Verdean American Story, the first in the trilogy, is the  story of the community and the untold tragedy and scandal of what happened when the Cape Verdeans were forcibly displaced by urban renewal to make way for fancy coffee shops, antique stores and elegantly restored houses.

Working the Boats: Masters of the Craft WEBISODES. (Each segment is @ ten minutes)

  • Fox Point Community – This segment talks about the relationship between the workers of Local 1329 and the community.
  • Craft – This segment explores the skills required to work on the waterfront and how the work has changed over the years.
  • Dangers – The waterfront is a dangerous place. Many of the interviewees talk about the injuries they have suffered and the accidents they’ve witnessed in this segment.
  • Generations – Several generations of families have made their lives on the waterfront. With each generation, new challenges arise and conflicts between the new and the old emerge.
  • Union – Safety, proper compensation, seniority and many other benefits the workers of the waterfront now enjoy were fought for by the previous generations through the union. The workers contemplate the future and wonder who will take on the fight now that many of them are on the verge of retirement.
  • The Women – The longshoremen’s wives talk about their life and role within the community at the waterfront.

Who are we?

The research and support for Working the Boats: Masters of the Craft documentary project is part of the work the Fox Point Cape Verdean Project (FPVCP), a community based research initiative comprised of volunteers from the former Fox Point Cape Verdean community. Since 2007 the FPCVP has worked to preserve, document and create a sustainable legacy of the history, culture and traditions of the Fox Point Cape Verdean community.

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Our core WTB: M of C production crew.

Principal photography for Working the Boats: Masters of the Craft and the other two documentary in the Fox Point Cape Verdean documentary trilogy are shot by award-winning cinematographer Boyd Estus. (


Acclaimed photographer/filmmaker Liane Brandon shot the   formal portraits that feature members of Local 1329 longshoremen, their families and descendants interviewed   for “Working the Boats: Masters of the Craft .” The portraits were photographed at the same time in a studio set up at the back of the Cape Verdean Progressive Center in East Providence where we were shooting the interviews.

The goal of both the documentary and photo exhibit is to create a sustainable legacy about   the Cape Verdean community in Fox Point and their contributions to the history and patrimony of the State of Rhode Island. Masters of the Craft: Gallery of Memory is a stand-alone museum quality traveling photography exhibition .

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What is the current status of the project?

Completed EPISODE ONE: Fox Point Community

Broadcast 11PM Saturday, August 1, 2015 RI PBS/WSBE TV 36

*2014- $8,000 Rhode Island Council for the Humanities. Post-production: transcription; logging; archival scanning, assembly edit of series episodes; completion of pilot episode in series.

*2008-2014- $10,130 tax-deductible donations. Production costs, personnel, post-production.

*2011-2012-$3,000 Emerson faculty development. Archival 8mm; external hard drives, deck rental, transfer of digital media/interviews.

*2008-2009- $2,000 Rhode Island Council for the Humanities. Production(partial)

*In-kind contributions have supported the majority of production and   post-production for Working the Boats: Masters of the Craft.  This includes but is not limited to:  producer’s time, facilities and equipment at Emerson College and Brown University, in addition to support from technical personnel, colleagues and volunteers.

$10,000 is needed to complete  WORKING THE BOATS. 

DONATE NOW: $10,000


Donors receive a credit/acknowledgement in the credits. Pending completion and review remaining episodes broadcast on


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Claire Andrade-Watkins  is an artist/filmmaker/historian, and   an Associate Professor of Visual and Media Arts at Emerson College.   Since 2007 she has been a Visiting Scholar at Brown University in the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America, and has held an appointment as a Swearer Center Community Fellow.   She was a 2009   Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellow in Film, and has received grants for her documentaries from the LEF Foundation, Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities and the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities.   She is the founder and President of SPIA Media Productions, Inc., a production and distribution company specializing in media from the Africana Diaspora.