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Conversations with Classic Boats

Published on March 29th, 2022

Conversations with Classic Boats is a podcast about classic boat designs and the stories behind them. Hosted by Tom Darling, his latest offering profiles Carleton Mitchell and the Chesapeake Bay Log Canoe. Here’s a tease from Darling:

Carleton Mitchel was a larger than life yachtsman, photographer, raconteur, and tropical sailing entrepreneur. His string of three consecutive Bermuda Race wins with Finisterre from 1956 to 1960 has never been matched. “Mitch “ as his friends called him, was a modern-day Odysseus with a mission to showcase the boats and waters of the Americas.

Less well known is the cache of over 20,000 photographs that he produced and is archived at the Mystic Seaport Museum. I was intrigued by those of the Chesapeake Bay Log Canoe, one of the most spectacular American watercraft.

Two masts, a huge bowsprit half the length of the low, a skimming dish hull made literally originally from logs, sometimes a topsail stuck on a sprit extending the main mast. It is in fact from the sandbagger genus, boats with powerful hulls, clouds of sail and human ballast moving out on hiking boards to counteract all that power.

The log canoe in its current form was a late 19th century creation of Bay watermen, eager to race back to port with their load of shellfish. That informal racing died out toward the beginning of the 1900s. It was the 1930s that brought the revival of building new models on the lines and with modified rigs of the old workboats.

Also available are photos of traditional and modern canoes along with a painting done by veteran marine artist Charles Raskob Robinson (click here).

For those interested in the Carleton Mitchell Archives, they are available through the Mystic Seaport Museum website. They are waiting, like the West Indies were for Mitch, to be discovered.

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