THIS WEEK’S TOP STORIES
Wooden Boat Show: Event rides a tide of superlatives
By Jason Lesley
Any way organizers measure last weekend’s 24th annual Wooden Boat Show in Georgetown, they are calling it the best ever held.
Consider the angles:
• A North Carolina team shattered the world record time for building the 12-foot Carolina bateau during the national Wooden Boat Challenge Saturday.
• Featured artist Susan Tiller’s painting of Georgetown Mayor W.D. Morgan’s yacht sold for an eye-popping $12,500 at the preview party and auction Friday.
• The show had 144 boats, the most ever, on display over the weekend. Awards MC Rob Dwelley put that number into perspective Saturday night when he said the annual wooden boat show in Mystic, Conn., had 98 boats this summer.
• And, finally, boat show sponsorships benefitting the Harbor Historical Association and the S.C. Maritime Museum in Georgetown were up $25,000 over last year to $125,000.
Many people on Front Street Saturday shared the view that the boat show lifted spirits as dozens of gleaming watercraft and other exhibits lined the street with the rubble of seven commercial buildings destroyed in a Sept. 25 fire serving as backdrop.
“Everybody made an extra effort because of the tragedy,” said Susan Sanders, director of the maritime museum and a boat show organizer. She would like to see the exhibits extended next year to include the 900 block of Front Street, where many of the businesses displaced by the fire have moved.
This was the fourth straight year that Capt. Jake Jacobs, leader of the pirate band the Charles Towne Few, had attended the boat show. Jacobs said he is a former Georgetown resident and has offered to put on a pirate-style fundraiser to benefit the downtown recovery effort. He noticed a different spirit and energy on Front Street this year. The band of pirates had an encampment beside the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce and stayed in character most of the time. Even Jacobs’ black Chihuahua, Boo Boo, was in costume. When a Domino’s pizza delivery man arrived with the pirate band’s order, Jacobs asked him if he would take gold teeth in payment. Sadly, he said he preferred cash.
The boat-building challenge is the show’s main event, and the whine of power saws pierces the air at Front and Broad streets between noon and 4 p.m. every year.
The experienced local team of Sean Hoelscher of Myrtle Beach and Gary Gates of Georgetown came within 6 minutes of the world record with their time of 2 hours, 50 minutes, 3 seconds. But they weren’t close to Saturday’s speed building winners: Bobby Staab of Cape Carteret, N.C., and Josh Fulp of Morehead City, who finished in 2 hours, 12 minutes, 36 seconds.
Speed, however, is not everything in the competition. After winning the rowing race on the Sampit River, Lora and Vic Fasolino of Beaufort, N.C., won the Georgetown Challenge — it combines boat building speed and quality with rowing time — and its $500 first prize.
Rookies Keane and Craig McLaughlin of Charleston took second place and won $300. Staab and Fulp were third and got a check for $200 at the awards program Saturday night.
The team of Joshua Dupree and Cale Cauley of St. Stephens ignored the rules and built a small row boat of a different design, finishing just 20 seconds before the 4-hour time limit. Cauley was attaching oar locks after the little boat was put in the street for judging. They decided to go rogue this year after competing by the rules for three years — and losing.
The first high school team to compete in the boat-building event, Caleb Fulp and Brandon Griffin of Croatan High School near Morehead City, N.C., issued a challenge to local high school students to enter next year.
Tiller’s painting of the “Mayor Morgan,” a pilot boat used as a yacht, was titled “Dressed for the Occasion.” The boat was festooned with nautical signal flags for Georgetown’s centennial parade in 1905. Tiller used harbor pilot Edwin Jayroe’s old black-and-white photo to get an idea of how the boat looked along with a photo from the library’s Morgan Collection. Georgetown resident Dan Ray, who restored the Mayor W.D. Morgan House at the corner of Prince and Broad streets, bought the painting.
Images of the yacht were used on the wooden boat show’s posters and T-shirts. Almost all were sold by mid-afternoon Saturday.
The Georgetown Wooden Boat Show started in 1993 with 37 boats on display. Saturday’s total of 144 included boat owners from as far away as Pennsylvania, Maryland, Mississippi and Texas. They included a unique radio-controlled gas inboard model boat and a 1917 canoe made of bald cypress that was carbon dated to be between 50,000 and 100,000 years old. Capt. Eric Norman and owner Andrea Helfrich of Hilton Head won the People’s Choice Award for their 1928 50-foot Elco, a classic inboard.
Sponsorship contributions reached a total of $125,000 for this year’s boat show, another record, along with the 800 people attending the awards banquet under the big tent on Broad Street Saturday night.
Georgetown Challenge: 1 — Lora and Vic Fasolino, Beaufort, N.C., 2:12:38; 2 —Keane and Craig McLaughlin, Charleston, 2:56:18; 3 — Bobby Staab, Cape Carteret, N.C., and Josh Fulp, Morehead City, N.C., 2:12:36.
Row — Dargan Moore, Sanford, 19-foot Grand Banks Dory built in 1989 by Aeolus
Classic Row — John Martin, Cottageville, 17-foot Whitehall built in 1960 by Aeolus
Canoe — Mason Cox, Morehead City, N.C., 11-foot, 11-inch canoe he built in 2013 with bald cypress, carbon dated from 50-100,000 years old.
Classic Canoe — Captain Cobb, McClellanville, 19-footer built in 1917 by Old Town Canoe Co.
Kayak — Tom Hesselink, Marshallberg, N.C., 15-foot Black River Guide built in 2011 by Douglass Little, Rose Hill, N.C.
Surf/Paddle — Mike Erickson, North Charleston, 14-foot paddleboard he built in 2013.
Sail —Michael Herron, Woodstock, Ga., Cat Ketch he built in 2013.
Classic Sail — Mac McAlister, Georgetown, 30-foot double ended gaff rigged cutter built in 1962 of a William Garden design.
Outboard — Frederick Lapp, Muncy, Pa., 28-foot Bluejacket he built with Marvin Spencer.
Classic Outboard — Dan Elliott, Florence, 15-foot, 3-inch Albright built in 1958.
Inboard — Gerald Wilkin, Clover, 28-foot triple cockpit Garwood built in 1992.
Classic Inboard — Andrea Helfrich, owner, and Eric Norman, captain, Hilton Head, 50-foot Elco built in 1928.
Owner Designed and Built — Syd Chipman, Lenoir, N.C., 17-foot Sharpie Sailboat built in 2004.
Century Class — Carson Benton, Myrtle Beach, and Neal Swann, Georgetown, 13-foot sail built in 1900.
Model Boats — Efran Ortiz and Shearline Boatworks , Morehead City, N.C., 4-foot model boat Ortiz built in 2013.
Cradle Boats and More — Lawrence Tracy, Fountain Inn, 5-foot cradle boat he built in 2005.