OkoumeFest: A Boatbuilders' Rendezvous

Location: Chesapeake Light Craft, Annapolis, Maryland
Dates: Friday, May 18, 2018 - Saturday, May 19, 2018

Fri, May 18th: Open House in Annapolis
Sat, May 19th: Boat Demos on Kent Island

OkoumeFest Beach

Mark your calendars, wooden boat lovers and builders: Chesapeake Light Craft will present its 20th annual small boat rendezvous on Friday and Saturday, May 18-19, 2018.

"Okoume" is the plantation-grown African hardwood used in tens of thousands of CLC's build-your-own-boat kits.  OkoumeFest features an open house with technical seminars on Friday at the CLC plant in Annapolis, and on Saturday an on-the-water rendezvous at Matapeake State Park on Kent Island.  This event is RAIN OR SHINE.  Please note that if thunderstorms are detected nearby we'll bring the boats off the water.

The Friday seminars are informative and fun, but the highlight of OkoumeFest always comes on Saturday, when we bring virtually everything in our shop over to the beach at Matapeake for our friends to paddle, row, sail, and generally put through their paces. We also encourage fellow boatbuilders to bring their homebuilt watercraft to show and compete for best-in-show honors and various awards. 

OkoumeFest is also a special chance to try some of the boats, like PocketShip, we can't usually take on the road with us, and some that are new designs, like the Jimmy Skiff IITenderly XP, and the Waterlust Sailing CanoeAttendance is free on both days this year, but please RSVP so that we can plan for the hordes. 

More than 300 people joined us for last year's OkoumeFest, not only to attend boatbuilding seminars or have a test run in one of CLC’s 55 demo boats, but also to show off boats they had built themselves.  CLC offers awards to amateur-built boats, many of which took hundreds of hours to build and look like exotic furniture. The event draws small boat aficionados from as far away as New England, Florida, and the west coast.

Watch the video below to learn more about the event.

What's NEW at OkoumeFest in 2018?

Demos by Experts on the Beach

Nicky Stimpson, ad avid SUP racer and professional rower (really!), will lead demos on the basics of stand-up paddleboarding and sliding-seat rowing.

And John Harris will show us how to set up traditional rigs on small wooden boats.

An OkoumeFest Group Cruise

Join us at 2 pm for a special 20th anniversary OkoumeFest Group Cruise. You can paddle, row, or sail; bring your own boat or sign up for one of ours.

Let's see if we can clear the entire fleet off the beach!

A Boat Kit Raffle for a Good Cause

OkoumeFest is free, so why not take a $20 crack at winning a CLC boat kit? One lucky winner will drive away on Saturday with a complete kit, their choice of a Kaholo 14 stand-up paddleboard kit, a Shearwater 17 kayak kit, or a Wood Duck 12 Sapele kayak kit! Learn more here.

  • Tickets are $20 each
  • Limit 5 tickets per customer
  • Max 250 tickets will be sold
  • Must be present to win
  • Two runners-up will win a Model Kit or a Toolbox Kit

100% of the raffle proceeds will go to support a member of the CLC family who needs help with extreme medical expenses. (If you've done anything with CLC in the last dozen years, you've benefited from the work of longtime colleagues Matt and Bill Cave.)

Learn about Carolyn Cave's story

Friday, May 18th - Open House at CLC:

Join us for an open house, shop tours, boatbuilding demonstrations and seminars from experts beginning at 11 a.m. We will host a cookout with food and drink beginning around 4 p.m.

And we'll be blowing out a lot of old and new inventory at the shop on Friday, including a few finished boats. You'll find great deals on boat kits, boatbuilding supplies, and gear storewide!

Shop Tours & CNC Demonstration

Friday's Schedule of Events:

11 am: Doors Open

12 pm: Factory Tour and CNC Demonstration - A guided tour of the CLC factory and workshops, with demonstrations of our giant robotic cutter and industrial-scale milling equipment.

1 pm: Epoxy Fillets for Dummies with Joey Schott - If you're still pronouncing "fillet" as in "fish filet," this is the seminar for you.  Epoxy fillets (that's "FILL-its" to the in-crowd) are how modern wood-epoxy composite boats like those in CLC's catalog are held together. Easy to do, but hard to do well; Boatbuilder Joey Schott will show you how to do it well.

2 pm: Fiberglassing Over Wood with Eric Schade - Boatbuilder and designer Eric Schade demonstrates his tips and tricks for a perfect fiberglass job. 

3 pm: The Technology of Carbon Fiber Spars with Tony DeLima - Carbon fiber has a lot of cachet in the marine biz, but it's here to stay and getting more common. The founder of MAS Epoxies and Forte Carbon is here to talk about carbon fiber, the tricky realities of its application, and how he makes spars from kayak-size to offshore-racing-yacht size. Forte Carbon manufactures composite parts for recreational and military applications. 

Cookout!4 - 6 pm: Cookout!

4 pm: Skin-On-Frame Kayak Building - An introduction and demonstration by kayak designer, builder, and guru Nick Schade.

5 pm: Varnishing with Joey Schott - Frustrated with your varnish work? Pick up a bunch of tips for glossy, smooth, frustration-free finishes over wood and epoxy. 

Find us on Friday at the CLC Shop:

Chesapeake Light Craft
1805 George Avenue
Annapolis, Maryland 21401

Saturday, May 19th - Demos on the Beach:

On Saturday we move across the Bay to Matapeake, a lovely park on Kent Island. With a huge sandy beach, there is room for everyone to spread out. The kids will love the place. And we'll have a special table just for the little ones, with free boat models they can assemble and decorate themselves.

From 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., weather permitting, you can try out our fleet of boats on the water, meet other builders, or launch your own boat. Bring your homebuilt boat to the beach and enter it to win one of many prizes. Our annual craftsmanship competition is light-hearted and fun, but the prizes are real and worth hundreds of dollars!

Saturday's Schedule of Events:

9 am - 4:30 pm: On-water Demos

11 am: Sailing Rigs for Small Boats with John Harris - How to set up traditional rigs on small wooden boats to sail so well that they embarrass the so-called "modern" sailboats.

12 pm: SUP demo with Nicky Stimpson - The basics of stand-up paddleboarding, explicated by our staff expert with wit and incisive detail.

1 pm: Judging begins for customer boats

1:30 pm: Rowing demo with Nicky Stimpson - New to sliding seats? A professional rower (really!) demonstrates how it's done.

2 pm: OkoumeFest Group Cruise (Sail-Paddle-Row)

3:30 pm: Awards & Raffle winners announced - Best in Show, Best Kayak, Best Smallcraft-SUP-Canoe, Runners-up, and other prizes awarded.

Plus, we'll select the winner for our Boat Kit Raffle!

Important Notes to Plan for Saturday:

  • Bring your own Paddles & Life Jackets. We'll have lots of gear for in-water trials, but you can help us keep the lines down by bringing your own.
  • The hill from the unloading area to the beach is significant.  If you are bringing smallcraft or a large kayak, you'll be glad that you brought your dolly.
  • If you are trailering a larger craft like PocketShip, you'll need to use the Matapeake Launch Ramp, shown on the map here. If you park your vehicle and trailer at the ramp, there's a nominal fee.

Find us on Saturday at the Beach:

Matapeake State Park
201 Clubhouse Drive
Stevensville, Maryland 21666

OkoumeFest Map

There are numerous lodging options on either side of bay: Annapolis Accommodations  Kent Island Accommodations  Camping at Matapeake

The OkoumeFest Boat List:

Here is a list of the boats we'll have on the beach for demos:

Paddling Craft:

Chesapeake 14 | Chesapeake 16 | Chesapeake 16 LT

Chesapeake 17 LT | Chesapeake 17 | Chesapeake 18 | Chesapeake Triple
Shearwater Sport | Shearwater Sport Take-Apart
Shearwater 16 | Shearwater 17 | Shearwater Double
Wood Duck 10 | | Wood Duck 12 | Wood Duck 12 Hybrid
Wood Duck 14 | Wood Duckling | Wood Duck Double
Petrel | Petrel SG | Petrel Play SG
Night Heron | Night Heron SG | Night Heron Hybrid
Sea Island Sport | Mill Creek 13 | Mill Creek 16.5 Hybrid
Great Auk 14 | Guillemot


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