Skip to Main Content

Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: M.C. Wootton, 07/1984
FLYING CLOUD (log canoe)
Inventory No.: T-501
Date Listed: 9/18/1985
Location: Cummings Drive , Wittman, Talbot County
Category: Object
Period/Date of Construction: 1932
Architect/Builder: Builder: John B. Harrison
Description: FLYING CLOUD is a sailing log canoe with a racing rig and carries one of the only square sails in the Maryland racing fleet. Built in 1932 in Tilghman, Maryland by the well-known boatbuilder John B. Harrison, she is log-built with carvel-fitted rising planks, a clipper bow, and a sharp stern. The canoe measures 34'-11" long with a beam of 8'-8 1/2". The boat is privately owned and races under the No. 22. Her log hull is painted white and she has bright spars and washboards. The canoe is log-built in the Tilghman fashion, with a five-log bottom with carvel-fitted rising planks and a smooth sheer. She is half-decked, with washboards, and is double-ended, with a longhead on a straight stem with little rake and a sharp, straight stern over which hangs a long bumpkin and a rudder mounted on pintles. As originally built the canoe was square-sterned, but because of traditional racing rules mandating sharp-sterned vessels, the canoe was altered to the traditional sharp stern form in 1933 by the builder's son-in-law Sam McQuay. There is a centerboard and movable springboards for counter-balancing the boat when sailing. The rig consists of two masts with adjustable rake, carrying a foresail, mainsail, and large jib. These are set into squared mast partners fore and aft. The fore and mainsails have clubs and sprits and are made of dacron. The 52' foremast is stayed with two shrouds and spreaders. The mainmast is also stayed, an unusual feature. The bowsprit has heavy standing rigging consisting of bobstay and bowsprit shrouds, and a forestay leads to the foremast and carries the jib. Among her other assorted sails FLYING CLOUD carries a square sail when racing in light airs--one of the few canoes to do so. The canoe's original wood hull is painted white with spars and washboards varnished bright. The centerboard is painted white. The longhead is decorated with carved trailboards with FLYING CLOUD painted on them in gold, green, and black. Significance: This vessel is significant as being one of the last 22 surviving traditional Chesapeake Bay racing log canoes that carry on a tradition of racing on the Eastern Shore of Maryland that has existed since the 1840s. In addition, it is a surviving representative of the oldest indigenous type of boat on the Bay--the working log canoe--which was developed in the 17th century by early European settlers from the aboriginal dugout canoe. FLYING CLOUD is particularly significant as having been built by John B. Harrison, one of Maryland's most noted boatbuilders, and for having been one of the most successful racing log canoes ever built. Built by Harrison in 1932 at the end of a long workboat building career, the FLYING CLOUD and her sister canoe JAY DEE were built specifically to be successful racers making use of design innovations created by Harrison--most notably exceptionally large size and unusual square sterns. The square stern of FLYING CLOUD was altered to the more traditional sharp stern in 1933 because the vessel had been ruled ineligible for competition in the Governor's Cup race. JAY DEE still retains her original square stern. At 34'-11" long FLYING CLOUD is only 2" under the maximum length allowed for the Governor's Cup race.
Return to the National Register Search page