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Georgetown Wooden Boat Show — Same as it Ever Was, and Bigger By Dan Dickison The boardwalk at the show is typically chock-a-block with showgoers. Berthed in the middle of the action is Fred Wichmann’s classic ketch Mobjack. Photo courtesy Georgetown Wooden Boat Show.


his is the political season, and with so much divisive rhetoric being slung about, it’s nice to know that there’s one thing most of us can agree upon: Wooden boats are pleasing. Yes, they often entail increased mainte-

38 October 2012


nance, but they definitely have an allure. Whether it’s the timeless gleam of their polished brightwork, the genuine feel of their expertly crafted joinery, or the aesthetic pleasure of their classic sheer lines, wooden boats are appreciated— revered even—by most sailors. And the majority of us extend that equally to the refined, Bristol-fashion yachts, as well as worn and weary workboats. That’s essentially why one of the year’s most popular events in the South Carolina Low Country is the annual Georgetown Wooden Boat Show, a one-day extravaganza dedicated to all that intrigues us about these fine craft. Every fall, during the third Saturday in October, this little burg on the Waccamaw River swells beyond capacity with more than 5,000 people flocking to Front Street and the riverfront boardwalk. Everyone mingles, taking in the impressive assembly of wooden boats, which range from scale models and canoes to steamboats and ocean-going yachts. According to the co-founder and one of the principal organizers, Sally Swineford, the event draws exhibitors from as far away as Ohio, West Virginia and Florida, and attendees come from all over the Palmetto State and beyond. “We don’t charge admission,” explains Swineford, “so we don’t really keep track of where the show-goers come from.” Swineford, who is one of a dozen individuals who got the show started 23 years ago, says attendees really seem to enjoy the pageantry of this event. Many of the boats on exhibit are turned out in full dress, with code flags and burgees fluttering in the breeze. Brightwork and deck fittings are highly polished, accenting the classic transoms, bows and sheer lines. And fittingly, the organizers present awards to the exhibitors in 12 separate categories, along with a people’s choice award and other special acknowledgements. What’s truly impressive, says Swineford, is that a great number of the boats on exhibit are built by their owners. In 2011, the Georgetown Wooden Boat Show featured 125 exhibitors with offerings ranging from superbly crafted surfboards to a 90-foot Trumpy motoryacht. According to