Many, many thanks to everyone who made it to OkoumeFest May 16 & 17.  We ate, drank, and breathed small wooden boats for two glorious days, all in the company of fun and interesting people who traveled from all over to join in the revelry.  

OkoumeFest is Chesapeake Light Craft's annual rendezvous of small boats, and the people who love them.  Staged at our Annapolis factory and at Matapeake State Park on the shores of Chesapeake Bay, the event name references the plantation-grown okoume wood ubiquitous in small boat projects.  With something like 30,000 okoume boats built from CLC designs alone, we feel like okoume deserves its own festival! 

Friday dawned rainy, but as the tours and seminars kicked off in the afternoon the clouds lifted.  It was a perfect spring evening by the time the grills heated up.

Saturday, at Matapeake State Park, featured bright blue skies and light air.  Throngs of interesting boats lined the beach, while the WaterTribe OkoumeFest Challenge competitors readied their boats for the races that started Sunday.  

Scroll down for the full recap. On-water photos continue on Page 2, and the award-winning boats are on Page 3. I'd like to thank the entire CLC staff and especially Ed Wigglesworth, CLC's chief operating officer, for the long months of preparation and overtime.  Thanks to Nick Schade for driving down from his home base in Connecticut to share his wisdom and chops.  We are grateful, as always, to the Chesapeake Paddlers Association for keeping a watchful eye over the fleet on Saturday.

What did you think of OkoumeFest?  Let us know, and we'll count the days until OkoumeFest 2015.  -John C. Harris

Following the program first established over fifteen years ago, we begin on Friday with an open house at the showroom and factory in Annapolis, where we have a chance to meet and greet and share boatbuilding tips in a series of seminars before we get serious about socializing over burgers and beer.

This year, we had transported many of the boats from our showroom over to Matapeake before we flung open the doors, but many others were arrayed in the parking lot for inspection. Left to right: Expedition Wherry, the Faering Cruiser, PocketShip, the Peeler Skiff, a Cocktail Class Racer, and a Northeaster Dory. Oh, and that big yellow thing in the back is Madness the Proa.

David Fawley (red hat) led things off with a shop tour and he and Mike Brown (black apron) demonstrated the CNC machine.

Friends old and new came from far and wide, many bringing their own boats. 

Nick Schade came from Connecticut to demonstrate some professional tricks for fiberglassing (it's all about the prep, boys and girls). He also brought his brand-new Noank Pulling Boat, which drew many admirers in the parking lot even before it went into the water the next day.

Strip Planked Rowing Shell 

Interior of the Noank Pulling Boat, demonstrating how the oars stow in the cockpit.  Neat!

Meanwhile, outside, John Staub and Andrew McLean began preparing for that always-popular seminar session, "How to Eat Burgers and Dogs." Inside John was demonstrating some of the finer points of small boat rigging.

John rigged a Passagemaker Dinghy, all the while wondering how to fit a 3-day rigging seminar into 45 minutes. 

David Fawley demonstrated varnishing technique while everyone enjoyed the cookout.

Then it was time to finish loading up for the trip to Matapeake for Saturday's festivities ...

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