Harbormaster Johnny Weaver tells Rotary about 24th Wooden Boat Show
Georgetown, S.C. — Speaking before a Tuesday luncheon of Georgetown Rotarians, Harbormaster Johnny Weaver had three noteworthy points he wanted to emphasize about the 24th Annual Wooden Boat Show.
First, he wanted everyone to remember the Harbor Historical Association of Georgetown event always falls on the third Saturday of October — this year from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 19.
Second, he reminded folks about the Goat Island Yacht Club Regatta at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 18, at the South Carolina Maritime Museum at 729 Front St. The entrance fee of $85 includes a buffet and open bar. A live auction and a silent auction are planned with prizes including such favorites as hunting trips, condo weeks, meals, posters, prints and a fishing trip. Proceeds from this opportunity to meet with and trade sea stories with fellow seafarers will benefit the Museum.
Third, he emphasized the Junior Sailing program and the new advanced sailing instruction offered by the organization. “This all took off much faster than we figured,” Weaver said. “There is a waiting list of youngsters hoping to participate in 2014. A total of 78 young sailors received training this year.”
Weaver showed samples of the 24th annual Boat Show posters and commemorative T-shirts to Rotary members, Tuesday, Sept. 3, at the Lands End Restaurant. Both the posters and shirts have a painting of a 1905 pilot boat in Georgetown by local artist Susan Tiller, who will be on hand Oct. 19 to sign posters.
Weaver said the Wooden Boat Show is “right around the corner.” This year's show will feature “one of the nation's best wooden boat exhibits,” a wooden boatbuilding competition, children's model boatbuilding, knot tying, maritime art and crafts, plus food and music.
These events take place on the waterfront and along Front Street. Money raised through sales and donations will go toward the operation and development of the museum, where admission is free to the public.
Weaver serves as harbormaster and oversees more than 125 classic wooden boats expected to be displayed in the water and along Front Street. Vessels ranging in size from kayaks to cruising yachts will be exhibited in 17 categories including row, canoe, kayak, surfboard, sail, inboard power, outboard power, owner designed and built and century class —100 years or older.
Weaver said 600 feet of temporary docks in the shape of a “V” will accommodate 700 feet of boats adjacent to the River Room. He said a model boat category has been added this year as well as seven “classic” categories for boats that are 50 years or older. Visitors will be able to meet and talk to wooden boat craftsmen, manufacturers and owners.
Weaver, who is a member of the Rotary Club of Pawleys Island, said the Wooden Boat Challenge begins at noon under the big tent on Broad Street. Two-man teams will race to build a rowing skiff within a four-hour time limit. The competitors will test their completed boats at 5 p.m. for seaworthiness in a rowing relay across the Sampit River. The teams will be judged on speed of construction, quality of work and rowing ability, he explained.
Each of the teams last year started with plans to build a 12-foot rowing skiff — the Carolina Bateau and what Weaver said was “a pile of lumber,” competing against the clock and attempting to complete their entry with a quality-made boat that can be put in the water for the relay race.
Weaver said last year the winner completed such a boat in 2 hours, 47 minutes and 40 seconds. “They are allowed to build practice boats, but some decide not to take this step prior to Saturday’s boat-building challenge,” Weaver said. “Cash prizes will be awarded to first, second and third-place winners.
The Challenge is open to men and women, family teams, boatbuilders and woodworkers — basically anyone with a love for wooden boats and their construction.”
Weaver said one of the year-after-year favorites is Dan the-Knot-Man, who will return again with knot tying demonstrations for children and adults. Visitors will have an opportunity to test their knot-tying skills in the "Six-Knot Challenge."
He said having two stages of live music performers has been very popular with crowds, who this year will hear a jug band plus other renditions, such as jazz, old country, ragtime, bluegrass and Irish tunes.
The Harbormaster said other events include children's model boatbuilding, and “gig rows” where participants take a turn at the oars with the New Charleston Mosquito Fleet, beginning at noon and continuing until 4 p.m. from the floating docks at Francis Marion Park. Each row takes about 45 minutes. The Mosquito Fleet was founded in 1995 to get inner city middle school children involved in boatbuilding and boating.
Shrimp Creole and Cajun Gumbo will be sold at the Ship's Galley and hot dogs and popcorn will be offered at the Kid's Galley.
Weaver said he and other volunteers will lead an awards ceremony and banquet held at 7 p.m. for boat exhibitors, boatbuilding competitors, sponsors and guests. Prizes will be presented to the winners in each of the 17 exhibit categories, to the "People's Choice Grand Award" winner, the Six-Knot Challenge winner and to the winning Wooden Boat Challenge competitors.
Weaver told Rotarians about the recent program to teach those 78 children how to sail. After Griffin DesMarteau of Pawleys Island encouraged having the sailing instruction, Lynn Anderson located plans for an eight-foot Optimus Pram sailboat and Sid Hood, along with other volunteers, built the boats out of wood. “Kids loved it,” Weaver said. “By the end of a week, students are able to sail around Goat Island.”
“We started with eight of these boats for the seven-week sailing class held in the mornings and afternoons,” Weaver said. “Two more boats are being ordered for next year. Classes will be extended to nine weeks.”
One boy demonstrated special skills and suggested the Harbor Historical Association needed something bigger to sail. “So our organization is adding the 420 (4.2 meters long) sailboat. These are the same two-person boats used for high school and college racing teams. Four of these boats were added to the fleet last Friday,” Weaver said. Adults have said they’d like to learn to sail, too.”
The Georgetown Times reported this summer that junior sailing class students took to the water in Georgetown Harbor aboard the small eight-foot handcrafted wooden boats, and learned the basics and more from instructors Kate Bibb and Mary McAlister, each with many years of sailing experience.
Weaver said a Waccamaw High School sailing club is being considered, and a meeting with the school board is planned. “Hopefully, once Waccamaw is set up and able to compete with other schools, more high schools in Georgetown County can be added.”
For more information, contact Susan Sanders, Georgetown Wooden Boat Show, PO Box 2228, Georgetown, SC 29442 www.woodenboatshow.com, or www.scmaritimemuseum.org.
By Lloyd Mackall
For The Times
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