Clam Slam to Show Harbor No Longer ‘Across the Tracks’

Cape Charles Harbormaster Smitty Dize with a racing “cork” and one of the competition boats, the Jay B. (Wave photo)

Cape Charles Wave

July 30, 2012

Spin a workboat from one dock to another, attach four lines to four posts bow and aft, and do it in about 30 seconds — that’s the essence of a boat docking contest. Next weekend in the Cape Charles harbor, watermen from Virginia and Maryland will compete to see who is the fastest.

“They risk tearing their boats up,” said Harbormaster Smitty Dize, who organized the event. “Most of them get dinged up. Last year, one guy knocked a part of his guard off, but that’s to be expected. It can be a very expensive thing if you tear up the hydraulic line.”

The boat docking contest is one of many events planned for the Inaugural Cape Charles Clam Slam, a town-wide festival August 3-5. Participants will enjoy three live bands, trash to treasures and yard sales, vendors, a Shriners Parade and car show, skiff and cork races, and clams, clams, clams.

“We’re not doing these events to make a profit,” said Dize. “We’re hoping to offset the costs of other town events, like the 4th of July fireworks.”

Last year, the town hosted its first docking race. Six boats competed before a crowd of about 1,200. Dize expects 9 or 10 boats in three divisions this year, and double the attendance. The Clam Slam Facebook page is getting lots of traffic, he said. And a yacht club that had one member attend last year is bringing 30 boats next weekend.

“A lot of vacationers are here this year because we exposed the town last year,” said Dize.

Cape Charles got a $10,000 grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to market the harbor. The grant paid for ads in boating magazines like Proptalk and Spinsheet, plus rack cards and other marketing tools. Massive harbor improvements have prompted some to consider it the new center of town.

“No, we’re not the center of town,” said Dize. “But we’re actually attached to the town now. The harbor used to be on the other side of the railroad tracks.”

Check out last year’s boat docking competition between the Fabricator and the Thomas Reed in the two videos below:



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