Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum
(ST MICHAELS, MD – June 9, 2017)
Opening in conjunction with the 30th annual Antique & Classic Boat Festival, Log Canoe Racing: Photographs by Morris Ellison features photos of the Chesapeake Bay’s iconic sailing log canoes and continues at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Md. through September 25, 2017.
A native of Oxford, Ellison is a retired sailmaker and longtime log canoe sailor who now volunteers as a carpenter and varnisher in CBMM’s Boatyard.
Ellison earned a Master of Philosophy in neurophysiology at Yale University. While continuing toward his Ph.D., his advisor asked, “Morris, how are you ever going to be successful if you keep going sailing on the weekends?” This led to a career change.
After several years as a sail designer and loft manager for North Sails, he started Ellison Sails in 1979 as a sail and boat canvas shop in Easton, Md. He has sailed on most of the log canoes and made sails for nine of them. For seven years, he trimmed the jib on Magic, a log canoe skippered by Jimmy Wilson, winning two Governor’s Cups and several high point trophies. Since then, he has photographed the log canoes from a small boat.
Ellison prints some of his canoe photos in sepia tone, giving them the feel of an old photograph, which he feels conveys a timeless quality to the classic log canoes.
Hosted by the Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the Antique & Classic Boat Society, the 30th annual Antique & Classic Boat Festival runs June 16-18, 2017 and brings a sense of nostalgia to the Miles River and CBMM’s docks and campus, drawing some of the area’s finest classic boats, nautical and maritime treasures, entertainment, food, and libations to this waterfront festival.
This year’s festival will feature a selection of sailing log canoes on land and in the water. A regional adaptation of the traditional Indian dugout canoes, log canoes were used from the 18th through the 20th century as all-purpose Chesapeake craft, to harvest oysters, transport goods, and to get people from place to place. A small fleet continues—including CBMM’s Flying Cloud, Edmee S., Marianne, and Bufflehead—with many seen today along the Chesapeake’s Chester, Miles, Choptank, and Tred Avon rivers during highly competitive sailing races each summer and fall. With long masts and large sails, these boats keep upright as they accelerate to speeds of 10 knots or more, with crew members climbing to the ends of 15-foot boards placed perpendicular to the boat itself.
To learn more, visit www.cbmm.org.