The thrill of log canoe racing—four to 18 people in choreographed motion, balancing the strain on the rig, calling out puffs and lifts, eyeing the competition, sailing low on the water with enough horsepower to exceed theoretical hull speed in optimum conditions—is an experience seldom equaled, and one that is explored in a new book, Tradition, Speed and Grace: Chesapeake Bay Sailing Log Canoes, being released this May by the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Md.
The hard-cover 150-page book is written by John C. North II, and includes more than 140 color and black-and-white illustrations and photographs. In Tradition, Speed and Grace, North recounts his perspective on the sport from his 70 years of log canoeing. The book also includes individual profiles of the remaining 23 canoes in the fleet, along with a chronology of log canoe racing and line drawings of canoes from the CBMM collection.
John C. North II was born and raised in Talbot County and served as States Attorney for Talbot County, Judge of the District and Circuit Courts, and Chairman of the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Commission. He was one of the founders of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, became its first Vice President and later its President. His family now owns and campaigns four Chesapeake Bay sailing log canoes, and he captains Island Bird, built in 1882 by his great-grandfather.
“This book gives the reader an on-board, intimate experience with Chesapeake Bay sailing log canoes,” said CBMM Chief Curator Pete Lesher. “Aboard the canoe, in the clubhouse, and during long tows, the Judge has recounted many wonderful stories about log canoe racing in a variety of personal settings. Now with this book, Judge North shares his experience, his knowledge, and his passion with readers from all over the world.
“Although countless articles on log canoe sailing have appeared in nearly every periodical covering yachting generally or the Chesapeake Bay region, sailing log canoes have not received a book-length treatment since M.V. Brewington’s 1963 Chesapeake Bay Log Canoes and Bugeyes, which reprinted his earlier 1937 volume on the subject,” writes Lesher in the book’s Foreword. “Much has occurred in log canoe racing since 1937, so a book on this subject is overdue.”
Limited, first-edition books will be sold at CBMM’s Museum Store for $65 beginning on Saturday, May 12, with Judge North signing books in the Museum Store from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Advanced, signed copies of Tradition, Speed and Grace can be reserved in the store or online at bit.ly/logcanoes. 100% of the book’s proceeds benefit the children and adults served by CBMM’s year-round education, restoration, and exhibition programs.
Established in 1965, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is a world-class maritime museum dedicated to preserving and exploring the history, environment, and people of the entire Chesapeake Bay, with the values of relevancy, authenticity, and stewardship guiding its mission. Charitable gifts to CBMM’s annual fund enable CBMM to educate and inspire the next generation of Chesapeake Bay stewards, and can be made online at cbmm.org/donate.