OkoumeFest 2012

Our fourteenth annual OkoumeFest was held on May 11th and 12th, 2012. After rain last year and too much wind the year before, the law of averages cut us a break.  We saw low humidity, lots of sunshine, and light breezes that were just right for enjoying our Chesapeake Bay, one of the largest estuaries in the world.  We saw more than 150 people on Friday and more than 270 on Saturday.  Many of you brought boats you built, and the event included the enchanting sight of not one but TWO PocketShips cruising near the beach.
Read on for the full recap.  Photos and descriptions of the award-winning boats are on Page 2. Special thanks to the CLC staff, and especially General Manager Ed Wigglesworth, for the months of preparation and overtime that made it all happen.  Thanks to the brothers Nick and Eric Schade for their help with seminars and demos.  As always, we're grateful to the Chesapeake Paddlers Association for helping to keep everyone safe as they enjoyed the wooden boats.
What did YOU think about OkoumeFest?  Let us know.  See you next year!  -John C. Harris

Open House at CLC

After fourteen years the OkoumeFest program is familiar.  On Friday we throw open the doors to our Annapolis showroom, shop, and factory for tours and seminars.  In recent years we've rented a tent and set it up in the front parking lot to accommodate the growing attendance.  Here, everyone watches our own David Fawley give a varnishing demonstration.

Open House at CLC

Neat wooden things of all shapes and sizes rolled in from many states.  Phil Towne brought two Shearwaters and a Kaholo 14 from upstate New York.

Open House at CLC

David Fawley, CLC's production manager of more than seven years, is standing on the CNC machine and demonstrating how it works.

Open House at CLC

Nick Schade drove down from his home base in Groton, Connecticut, and gave a seminar on fiberglassing.  This is a Kaholo SUP with a "hybrid" cedar-strip deck.

Wood Kayaks - OkoumeFest

Every year we get a little smarter when Saturday morning comes around.  We added a lot of extra staff this year to shift 55 CLC demo boats---all of which live at the CLC shop in Annapolis---to the beach at Matapeake State Park.  It takes several big trailers and the roof racks on every single staffer's car.

Proa Madness - OkoumeFest

One CLC design that DOESN'T live at the shop is the 31-foot proa, "Madness."  Madness arrived on her own keel after a 26-mile sail from the nearby Wye River.  

Nymph 12 and Kaholo 14

Our colleague Matt Cave, on the left, spent the winter building a Nymph 12.  Before the throngs arrived on Saturday morning, he scooted out for a quick trial, accompanied by Geoff Kerr on his Kaholo 14.

Ganymede kayak and Sectional Shearwater Sport

Also trying out new designs were Nick Schade, left, in his Ganymede design, and Eric Schade, right, in his Shearwater Sectional design.

Proa - OkoumeFest

Madness was moored off the beach.  John Harris, the only skipper who might have given proa rides all day, preferred to stay on the beach visiting with people. 

Coot Dingy at OkoumeFest

Saturday started off with light air.  The waters were thick with small wooden boats.  That's the twin spans of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, several miles distant.

CLC SailRig and Passagemaker Dinghy - OkoumeFest

The CLC SailRig Mark III, on the right, was one of the CLC kits that never sat idle all day long.

Kaholo SUP - OkoumeFest

The fleet of Kaholo paddleboards also never seemed to touch shore.


By late morning, the beach was a glossy thicket of okoume (and cedar, and sapele) kayaks and smallcraft. 

Mill Creek 16.5

This is an especially pretty Mill Creek 16.5.

Matunuck - OkoumeFest

The conditions were too gentle for surfing, but Nick Schade's surf kayak, the Matunuck, got lots of trials.

Wood Duck 10

 All shapes and sizes of people and boats...

Passagemaker Dinghy - OkoumeFest

The Passagemaker Dinghy continued to surprise and delight with its speed and handiness.  Trivia:  Before it was "adopted" by Passagemaker Magazine, the design name for this 11'7" dinghy was the "Surprise Dinghy," after the famous ship in the Patrick O'Brian novels, and because its excellent sailing qualities were a constant surprise to everyone.

CLC SailRig MK III - PocketShips - OkoumeFest

It was NOT a surpise that the CLC SailRig Mark III, with its enormous and efficient new rig, was cutting up the Bay at high speed all day.

CLC Proa - OkoumeFest

Madness stood by impatiently while the smallcraft fussed about, all gleaming Awlgrip, carbon fiber, composite sails, and trunkloads of Harken hardware.

Skerry - OkoumeFest

Great shot of the Skerry eating up the steady moderate breeze in the afternoon.

CLC SailRig MK III - OkoumeFest

Another view of the SailRig Mark III.  The sail area has been punched up from 55 square feet to 70.  It buzzed around like a swallow.

OkoumeFest Beach

Continue on to Page Two for more OkoumeFest Pics and this year's award winners!