BEAUFORT — It was a celebration of boats of the wooden variety on the town waterfront as enthusiasts of the recreational vessels gathered Saturday to enjoy Wooden Boat Weekend.
Wooden Boat Weekend consists of two separate events, the 45th annual Wooden Boat Show, hosted by the N.C. Maritime Museum, and the Beaufort Boatbuilding Challenge, hosted in large part by Atlantic Veneer Mill Outlet.
It’s a part of the National Boatbuilding Challenge with competitions held in Georgetown, S.C., Kingston, N.Y., Belfast, Maine, and Beaufort.
The Wooden Boat Show is dedicated to showcasing all things wooden boat, while the Beaufort Boatbuilding Challenge is all about who can build the best boat with little time.
During past challenges, anywhere from 12 to 20 two-person teams raced against the clock to construct a 12-foot Carolina Bateau rowing skiff in less than four hours.
This year’s challenge was no different.
“We only have 12 teams this year, but we’ve got 12 great ones,” said Susan Sanders, the chairperson of the Beaufort Boatbuilding Challenge. “It’s gonna be a tough year for Carteret County.”
The competition was fierce, with each team seeking the coveted top spot.
Teams ranged from Bobby Staab and Josh Fulp, who have been local champions, to Shelby Freeman and Bryce Becker, who started out as student builders in the competition, to Carteret Community College students Josh Dunn and Joe Justice, to Boy Scout troops, who worked just as fast as their adult counterparts, and all the way from Belfast, the world championship title holders, Cody Keithan and Bruno Borzoni.
So far, the world record for building the boat is one hour and 24 minutes.
Mr. Borzoni said maintaining the title can be challenging.
“It’s stressful,” he said before the start of the competition. “It’s always something you have to maintain.”
Though maintaining the record can be stressful, Mr. Borzoni said he felt confident about Saturday’s challenge.
“We’ve done it a few times,” he said. “It comes down to doing things in the right order and not making any mistakes.”
Soon the starting cannon went off, power tools ripped to life and sawdust flew through the air as the teams went to work on their boats.
A crowd gathered in front of the individual teams, recording and taking pictures with their cellphones, anxious to see who this year’s champion would be.
Meanwhile, in front of the N.C. Maritime Museum, people enjoyed the display of wooden boats and other activities.
The Wooden Boat Show offered something for every boating enthusiast.
The Carolina Maritime Model Society showcased miniature boats inside the museum’s auditorium.
Outside, the show offered small pools for the youngest show attendees to race R/C boats and attempt to sail their own wooden boats.
A new feature of this year’s Wooden Boat Show was the addition of the Marine Arts Guild, which was conducting an invitational, paint out and wet paint sale.
The guild was set up throughout the Wooden Boat show area painting maritime scenes.
Among those painting was Nancy Noel May of Wilmington, who was set up inside the Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center.
She was overlooking Taylor’s Creek and painting an anchored boat.
She started painting the picture Friday and was adding the finishing touches to the image Saturday.
Ms. May said she was working in oils, which she feels is best for plein air painting.
“If you’re working with acrylics it gets too hot and the paint dries out,” she said.
Also on display was a large collection of Barbour Boats, made famous in New Bern right around World War II.
Monitoring the collection of boats was Joe Peacos Jr., who oversees the Barbour Boat Enthusiasts Facebook page.
He said he loves the boats because of the local history.
“I didn’t know that much about Barbour Boats too many years ago,” Mr. Peacos said.
Then he started restoring them and learned about the boats and their history.
“It’s a passion. It’s something that’s really special,” he said.
Mr. Peacos said he restores everything on the boats. The only thing he doesn’t work on is upholstery.
He said he has been working on restoring 14- or 15-foot boats since 2014 and has finished four within the past few years.
Mr. Peacos said people come to the Wooden Boat Show to get ideas about projects they are working on.
“It’s a good day for this,” he said.
One of those in attendance who was looking for ideas was Barney Culp of Emerald Isle.
Mr. Culp said he has a passion for boats.
“I like the freedom,” he said. “It’s the combination of being on the water and looking at the beauty of Beaufort and the Rachel Carson Reserve.”
“You learn a lot by looking,” he said. “You can see what everyone else is doing…what the norm is.”
Contact Megan Soult at 252-726-7081, ext. 228; email email@example.com; or follow on Twitter @meganCCNT.