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Maryland's National Register Properties



Photo credit: M.C. Wootton, 10/1983
NODDY (log canoe)
Inventory No.: T-507
Date Listed: 9/18/1985
Location: Deepwater Point Road , St. Michaels, Talbot County
Category: Object
Period/Date of Construction: 1930
Architect/Builder: Builder: Oliver Duke
Description: NODDY is a sailing log canoe, carrying two masts and a racing rig. The boat is double-ended, with a curved stem and longhead bow, and a sharp, raking stern. She is log built with carvel-fitted rising planks. The canoe measures 27'-6" long, with a beam of 6'-4 1/2". She has a large centerboard and carries springboards for balance. NODDY was built by Oliver Duke, a noted canoe builder, in Royal Oak, Maryland, in 1930 for the racing log canoe fleet. Her log hull remains unglassed and is painted white. NODDY races under No. 1. The vessel has a slightly curving stem, on which a longhead is attached. Her sharp stern carries a rudder on pintles. In shape she is full-bodied through the ends, with a slight S-curve to the sheer. The boat was built as a racing canoe, with a three-log bottom, carvel-fitted rising planks and a rubrail at the sheer. Wide washboards form a square cockpit. The logs are put together in typical Tilghman style with the logs bolted together with iron drift pins. As originally built NODDY sported unique, hollow curved masts but these were replaced by traditional masts after being broken off in a storm in 1951. The interior contains the centerboard trunk, mast-steps in thwarts, and removable trestles (on which the masts are carried when not set up). A long varnished bumpkin extends over the stern. The long, varnished hexagonal bowsprit is rigged with a cable bobstay and two bowsprit shrouds. When rigged for sailing, NODDY has two unstayed masts--a 38' foremast and a 35' mainmast. Fore- and mainsails are clubbed and have sprits. The boat also carries a large jib rigged out to the bowsprit. The boat is towed to and from races. All gear is removable, including the rig. Racing gear includes extra, light sails and long springboards used to balance the boat while under sail. NODDY retains her original log hull, which is painted white. There is brightwork trim on the cleat rails (mounted on the washboards), cockpit coaming, bowsprit, and spars. The boat carries a short, broad longhead with the name NODDY carved and painted in black with green leaves and vines carved beneath and a small yellow flower carved at the billethead point. These are carved directly on the longhead rather than on separately mounted trailboards, an unusual practice in Bay construction. 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. NODDY is significant as having been built during the revival of interest in log canoe racing during the late 1920s and early 1930s, by one of the most noted builders of that era, Oliver Duke of Royal Oak, Maryland. Duke was also the builder of the surviving canoes EDMEE S., OLIVER'S GIFT, and PATRICIA. In the NODDY, his 13th canoe, Duke carried out several design experiments based on his many years of sailing log canoes. Among these was a centerboard well constructed so that one could "cant" the centerboard to windward. Masts curved, or bowed, at the head were another of Duke's experiments, based upon his theory that in windward work the last few feet at the top of a sharp sail had but little driving force. The curve aft in the masts widened the sail at the peak and also allowed the same sail area on a shorter mast, so that the canoe's stability was increased even with the usually oversized sails. Duke was also a pioneer in the development of hollow masts, now a standard feature on the racing canoes. NODDY no longer has her original curved masts, which were broken off in a storm in 1951.
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