to those dedicated to the intricate craftsmanship of these beautiful, and
often time-tested, vessels.
The 44th iteration of the show is scheduled for May 5. Festivities
will include mainstays like the National BoatBuilding Challenge, races,
classes, demonstrations, and of course, wooden boat exhibits. Show
attendees can venture onto the water themselves in a wooden boat.
“For Beaufort, it’s a big draw,” says Bryan Humphrey, a longtime
Wilmington resident and regular attendee at the Beaufort Wooden Boat
Show. “It’s a weekend-long thing. A whole bunch of people come there.”
PEOPLE | CULTURE | HAPPENINGS
Beaufort’s annual Wooden Boat Show
features dedicated wooden boat builders
Preserving the Craft
By KYLE HANLIN
ONCE IN A WHILE, amid the fleets of fiberglass Grady-
Whites, Carolina Skiffs and Sea Hunts, waterside observ-ers
and boaters may find themselves fortunate enough
to spot a hand-crafted wooden vessel sliding by.
Many might say, “That’s a cool boat,” or casually
remark at its unique beauty before it sails or motors away. But for an
entire subculture of enthusiasts and craftsmen, wooden boats represent
a nautical spirit born from a maritime past much different than today.
“It varies from hobbyists to people that look at it as artwork,” says
Mark Bayne, director of wooden boatbuilding at Cape Fear Community
College. “There are so many reasons why people like wooden boats. A
lot of it is sentimental — they grew up on one, or their granddad had
one, and all of their summers were filled with that, so they want to relive
or recapture some of that. So, there’s still a lot of boatbuilding going on,
especially here in North Carolina.”
The Beaufort Wooden Boat Show, presented by the North Carolina
Maritime Museum, celebrates the history, craftsmanship and beauty of
wooden boats. The annual event brings together everyone from mari-time
revelers who take any opportunity to celebrate the seafaring life,
Bryan Humphrey sails his 24-foot spritsail skiff Kommradeship in Banks Channel in April 2018, with Al Winters and Dayne Shelor
When Bryan Humphrey went to pick
up a boat that had once been in the pos-session
of friend Andy Cobb in 2007, it
had completely sunk in shallow water.
The story goes that river guide Neusom
Holmes planned to build three spritsail
skiffs to carry tourists up and down
Pamlico Sound and the Outer Banks in
the 1970s. After building the first one
and sailing it, he abandoned the project
and the boat. Holmes gave it to Cobb,
who sailed it in the 1980s and then gave
it back. Holmes kept the boat at Topsail
until it was damaged in a storm.
Humphrey and friends pulled the boat
partway onto a trailer and pumped it
out, then hauled it to the workshop of
their friend Walt Cartier, aka renovation
headquarters. At least 40 percent of the
port side was damaged. It needed new
wooden frames, and lots of repairs to its
old copper bottom. The repair crew also
built a bamboo topmast, because the
original was gone.
It would require extensive work, but
the spritsail skiff stood for a different era
of boat making and was a piece of art
Humphrey couldn’t abandon. Over the
course of those few months, at least 40
people came by to lend a helping hand.
Proud of their success and eager to
show off the Kommradeship, Humphrey
and his friends entered it in the 2008
North Carolina Maritime Museum’s
annual wooden boat show in Beaufort.
The Kommradeship took prizes in
When the boat was brought back to
Wrightsville Beach, Humphrey admits
“we sailed it hard.” They used the
Kommradeship three days a week for six
weeks, which proved to be too much.
Before long, the minor leaks and “uh-ohs”
that commonly plague older craft
were occurring at an increasing rate. The
Kommradeship needed a second round
of repairs. Again, Humphrey and his
band of brothers answered the call. The
second refurbishment included replac-ing
the boat’s bottom and other minor
Ten years later, the skiff is still sailing
and again will be entered at this year’s
Beaufort Wooden Boat Show.