SOLOMONS — Bill Nichols will be behind the wheel this Saturday when he takes passengers out for a ride aboard the William B. Tennison during the Solomons Maritime Festival.
Nichols, who is a retired jeweler, has been steering vessel, which was built in 1899 as a Bugeye sailing vessel. The 9-log hulled boat — which over the years has been refurbished; the Edna Lockwood in St. Michaels has been completely redone and has no original parts — is the only one of its kind still plying the waters of the Chesapeake Bay.
“She’s fairly compliant to the helm but you have to know what she not will do and what the boat will not do,” the Lusby resident said of the 60-foot Tennison, which was originally built as a Bugeye sailing vessel. “And you have to turn that helm a good bit to get her to come around. It’s not like driving a sports car. But she’s a big, wooden boat and a comfortable riding boat. She slips through the water very nicely.”
Nichols, who takes passengers for rides up to 15 times a week, will be doing the same during Saturday’s festival. He will be taking passengers out for 30-minute rides around Back Creek but because of COVID-19 protocols, the vessel can only take 20 passengers at a time instead of its usual 40.
For those looking for smaller a little smaller, canoes and pedal boats will be available for use as well.
The festival will also feature antique boats and motors, master maritime carvers, toy boat building, fowl calling and cooking, waterman and retriever demonstrations.
“It’s a good opportunity to learn some of the Southern Maryland traditions,” said Calvert Marine Museum Volunteer Sherry Reid, who has organized the last 15 festivals. “As people get older some of the things they did aren’t being done anymore, so it’s important to learn those things and be able to pass them along.”
There will also be food from Dan D’s Catering and Rita’s Italian Ice at the event, which is sponsored by the Calvert County commissioners, Calvert marina, Community Bank of the Chesapeake and Washburn’s Boat Yard.
“It’s good for the parents to be there with their kids to let them experience new things,” Reid said. “It’s the things you don’t see very much that we want to highlight and bring to life.”