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‘Great Skiff Race,’ fish fry is Saturday

Family Boatbuilding Week began Monday at the Deltaville Maritime Museum. Above, Jim Thimsen (right), Deltaville boatbuilder, designer and museum volunteer, offers advice and direction as eight families begin the difficult job of bending of the planks establishing the shape of their finished Wright skiff. Building is taking place under the John’s Events Pavilion. The John’s log canoe is visible over Thimsen’s right shoulder.

by Bill Powell

This is it! This is the week at the Deltaville Maritime Museum when families from all over the country turn sticks of wood into sleek, floating work skiffs. The 10th annual Family Boatbuilding Week celebrates the satisfying hands-on experience of working with your family in wood and creating something that is totally yours. Over 100 Wright skiffs have been built by over 1,000 family members over the past nine years of Family Boatbuilding Week.

“This is the annual event at the museum that most encompasses our mission,” pointed out Chuck McGhinnis, boatshop director. “Boatbuilding Week teaches families historic woodworking skills, gathers families in the nature park for a week together, and preserves a workcraft that has been the ‘light utility vehicle’ of Bay watermen throughout bay maritime history. You really need to see the boatbuilding in progress to get a feel for what a wonderful thing this is!”

All are welcome to stop by the maritime park any time through this Saturday and watch the progress as stacks of wood have become eight discrete, floating, watercraft. Watch and kibitz as the families and groups work in concert to form a thing of beauty.

By Thursday, July 19, the skiffs will be in their final stages of completion, taking their finished form and being made ready to paint and name. On Friday, the skiffs will be painted their final color. Kaptain Krunch will letter the names and the boats will be splashed to allow the planks to swell.

On Saturday, July 21, the finished skiffs enter the “Great Skiff Race” at 10 a.m. Watch as the intrepid skiff-builders jockey for position behind the starting line. Listen for the blast of the F.D. Crockett’s newly-installed air horn signaling the start. Enjoy the “free for all” as the boats “bumper car” around the windward mark. Who will cross the finish line first? Come out and see for yourself.

As an added bonus, the museum’s classic restored workboat, “Cooper Hill,” will be on hand as both the race committee boat and a platform for photos and watching the race “up close and personal.” Come early and there may be a spot for you.

The museum’s own painstakingly replicated John Smith 1608 shallop, “Explorer,” will act as the turn buoy, and you can bet on plenty of hi-jinks when the “Explorer Society” hams it up as the intrepid race crews go by. Is that a cannon I hear?

Afterwards, emcee Kaptain Krunch himself will hand out trophies to the survivors.

The annual Family Boatbuilding Week Fish Fry will follow the awards ceremony. Advance tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children under age 12, and are available at Nauti Nell’s and the museum office.

Deltaville Maritime Museum and Holly Point Nature Park is a non-profit organization at 287 Jackson Creek Road and on Mill Creek. Turn right off Route 33 across from the Shell Station to get there.

Holly Point Nature Park, the Pierwalk and all other outside exhibits, gardens and facilities are open dawn to dusk throughout the year, except during pre-announced private events.

To find out more, visit, email or call 776-7200. The museum mailing address is P.O. Box 466, Deltaville, VA 23043.

posted 07.18.2012

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