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Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: M.C. Wootton, 07/1984
JAY DEE (log canoe)
Inventory No.: T-505
Date Listed: 9/18/1985
Location: Yacht Club Road , St. Michaels, Talbot County
Category: Object
Period/Date of Construction: 1931
Architect/Builder: Builder: John B. Harrison
Related Multiple Property Record: Chesapeake Bay Sailing Log Canoe Fleet (MPD)
Description: This vessel is a square-sterned sailing log canoe in the racing fleet. Measuring 35'-6" long with a beam of 8'-6", she is built of five logs and is said to be one of the best constructed canoes in the fleet. She was built in the Tilghman fashion, with carvel-fitted rising planks, in 1931 by noted boatbuilder John B. Harrison of Tilghman, Maryland for John D. Williams of Oxford. JAY DEE has typical log construction, and was built of five logs. The stern quarter is filled in with "stealers," enabling the application of a transom stern in a wineglass shape. Rising strakes, carvel-fitted, were added after the transom was set in, thus forming the sheer. The bow is sharp, with a curved, slightly hollow stem and a longhead with head rails bracing it out underneath the bowsprit. The bowsprit is mortised into the sampson post and held in place with a gammon arm. The deck beams are covered with a notched margin plank, or covering board, that serves as a rubrail or bumper and secures the decking. The canoe is half-decked. A rudder is hung outboard on the transom. The bowsprit is set up with heavy standing rigging. The rig consists of two masts of adjustable rake. The mainmast has been moved aft and new bridging beams, clamps, mast-steps, and decks have been added. The foremast is stayed with shrouds and a forestay, on which the jib is laced. Originally, the boat had a variable rig with three masts: a single mast could be stepped for pleasure sailing, or two masts could be stepped for racing. The single-masted rig utilized a boom sail and a short jib, as the mast was set further aft than the present foremast. The boat carries 1,000 square feet of sail. JAY DEE has several unusual features, most notably her square stern. The canoe FLYING CLOUD, built by John B. Harrison a year after the JAY DEE, was also built with a square stern, but was altered to the traditional sharp stern in 1933 because of the ineligibility of square-sterned canoes to compete for the Governor's Cup. JAY DEE carries 600 pounds of ballast when racing which enables the canoe to plane. She is particularly well built and over the years her repairs and modifications have been carried out by members of the same family--John B. Harrison's son-in-law Sam McQuay, and more recently by McQuay's son Dave. JAY DEE’s original 3-masted variable racing and pleasure-sailing rig was another unusual feature. 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. JAY DEE is significant as having been built by one of the most famous boatbuilders on the Eastern Shore, John B. Harrison, during the revival of interest in log canoe racing in the early 1930s. For the JAY DEE and her sister ship FLYING CLOUD, Harrison, primarily a workboat builder, made use of radical experimental designs with a view to increasing the speed and performance of these vessels. The canoes were larger than average and were built with square sterns for extra stability. FLYING CLOUD’s square stern was modified to the traditional sharp stern in 1933 but JAY DEE retains her square stern. JAY DEE was built for John D. Williams, hence the name. She has been racing successfully since. Of particular interest is the fact that all subsequent restoration work on the canoe has been carried out by her builder's son-in-law, Sam McQuay, and his son Dave McQuay of Wittman, Maryland.


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