Mid Atlantic Small Craft Festival 2017

The first weekend in October is a special time in Saint Michaels, Maryland. That's when the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum hosts the Mid Atlantic Small Craft Festival. It's a magical way to say goodbye to the warm sailing season. When the weather is good the Miles River is deep blue and the trees are bright green with just a tinge of color starting to peek through. The water is still warm and with any luck the sea nettles are scarce.

For 2017 the weather was perfect. No rain on the main days, sunshine and just the right amount of wind. Due to work responsibilities I was unable to join the gunkholing expedition, which is an overnight trip to Wye Island. I must have been the jinx in the past because this was the first time in three years that it was not called off due to weather. Hvit Skygge would be the perfect boat for that event, what with the ability to have camp set up fifteen minutes after dropping anchor and never having to wade through mud.

I arrived Friday afternoon, negotiated the lack of trailer parking at the St. Michaels City Docks, as well as the traffic jam at the ramp (which is conveniently set up to block both the entrance to the St. Michaels Harbour Inn, Marina and Spa and the intersection of North and West Harbor roads when backing the 41-foot combined length of my truck and Hvit Skygge on its trailer) and sailed over to the museum docks on the dying winds at the end of the day. I managed to find a spot at the Waterman's Wharf and was so tired that I just let the sails rest in the lazyjacks for the night. Barry Long, owner of the EyeInHand website caught this nice picture of Hvit Skygge the next morning, greeting the sun for race day.

Image courtesy of and copyright Barry Long, EyeInHand

Unfortunately, overnight my old knee injury responded to the previous day's work and a frontal passage by swelling, stiffening up and hurting like hell. I thought at first that I was going to have to sit out the race, but then I had the best idea of the weekend - I formed a two-man team with Dillon from Chesapeake Light Craft. Not only is he the designer of the very successful Waterlust Sailing Canoe, he's an experienced sailing racer. So by splitting the crew duties with him, Hvit Skygge was able to enter the race.

Barry caught another shot of Hvit Skygge, this time in the race. Dillon was helmsman and strategist, while I was tending the downhaul, acting as lookout and paddle handler when needed. This picture shows the utility of the Faering Cruiser design. With the sliding seat stowed in the hold in the bow there was plenty of room for 2 in a nominally one-person boat. We could also have stowed a body in the cabin, if we'd had one along. Between the two of us, the full water ballast tanks and the hull, we were just over half a ton displacement.

Image courtesy of and copyright Barry Long, EyeInHand

We had a bit of a messed up start, thanks to me not quite remembering which flag went with which gun, but we eventually took off and not only caught up with, but started passing the field on the beam reach leg. Dillon kept us on the outside where we had cleaner air and by the end of the downwind leg as we went around the second buoy we had passed two-thirds of the field. The picture below is an enlargement of a still frame from Gregory Taylor's YouTube video of the race. It shows Hvit Skygge (to the left of the excessive and tacky yacht) during the tack to the final leg to the finish line. The full video is immediately below the frame and shows a satisfying number of boats behind us.

I've read many times that if you really want to know your boat, you should take it racing. That seems to be true. With a good wind and an experienced helm, Hvit Skygge did things I'd never seen it do before. It moved faster than I'd ever experienced. A couple of weaknesses were also revealed. The first was the self-draining cockpit. At those speeds, the water pushed up through the drains into the cockpit. At first I thought that this was because of the heavy load, but there's a clue on Barry's picture. Right at the shadow of the starboard oarlock, there's a peak for the bow wave. That's also where the drains are located. At certain speeds the bow wave forces water up through the drains. This theory is supported by the fact that without changing the loading, when we slowed down to dock, the water drained out. The second weakness is with tacking. I've thought sometimes that the rudder had insufficient authority, but chalked that up to bad technique on my part. It turns out that even for an experienced sailor like Dillon, the rudder was still wimpy. Fortunately, the race was mostly straight lines.

How'd we do? First place in the Cruiser class (boats having a hard top to sleep under). Not bad for the first ever race for any Faering Cruiser.

What made it a real shame that Dillon couldn't be there is that Clemens Wergin's Waterlust Canoe, designed by Dillon, won two ribbons - one for the race and one\ for construction. So Dillon and CLC were involved in three different ribbons this year.

Page 1 - The Faering Cruiser Hvit Skygge
Page 2 - Modifications
Page 3 - So Now I Have a Cruiser
Page 4 - First Campout
Page 5 - A Quick Spring Sunday Sail
Page 6 - Okoumefest 2016

Copyright © 2017 László I. Mórocz. All Rights Reserved.

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