Flying Cloud Set to Kiss the Water this Season

After a two-year, intensive restoration effort, the Flying Cloud is poised to kiss the water once again for this season’s log canoe races, set to begin in June. Campbell’s Boatyards in Oxford has been the temporary home for the 78-year-old log canoe as the nonprofit Flying Cloud Log Canoe Preservation Trust, Ltd. has faithfully been bringing her back to her former glory.

In February, the Flying Cloud’s deck got varnished at Campbell’s Boatyards in Oxford.
Photograph courtesy of Tracey Johns.

Over the winter, the final touches have been in the works, including varnishing, rigging the sails and polishing the metalwork. Foundation members Allan Nobel, Ned Hennighausen, Hon. John C. North II, Langley Shook, Capt. Ken Reightler, and Alexa Seip are most appreciative of the Prager Family challenge grant, artist Marc Castelli, and the 35 generous sponsors who are contributing to this effort. Most recently, wooden boat enthusiast Peter Kellogg made a generous challenge grant of $25,000 to help finish Cloud’s restoration and will be matching donations dollar-for-dollar as Cloud’s restoration is taken to the finish line this spring.

Flying Cloud under restoration.

Additionally, fund raising also supports her yearly maintenance, so a monetary gift will be matched and will help Cloud sail in the future. The trust is accepting tax-deductible donations for the Cloud’s complete restoration, which is being done in accordance to federal guidelines while maintaining techniques consistent with historic vessel conservation and preservation.

Joanne Prager and Capt. Kenneth Reightler stand in front of Flying Cloud, the log canoe Reightler will skipper.

The Chesapeake Bay sailing log canoe Flying Cloud was re-christened and re-launched in October 2020 after two years of planning and restoration. Flying Cloud is the second largest sailing log canoe still under sail and was built on Tilghman Island in 1932 by the legendary John B. Harrison. John Harrison also built Flying Cloud’s sister ship, Jay Dee, a year earlier. Jay Dee is the largest log canoe still in the fleet.

Flying Cloud was designed to beat the best log canoes of the day,” said Flying Cloud Log Canoe Preservation Trust President Ned Hennighausen. “Her elegant lines, Honduran mahogany decks, and crew outfitted in white uniforms surely created a striking image on the water. Now, we can’t wait to see her out on the water and under sail again for this year’s sailing season. “Flying Cloud is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places and races under the Number 22, requiring as many as 18 crew members to campaign her.

Cloud received restored rigging and new sails over the winter months, with a shake-down cruise led by Captain Reightler, who was named Flying Cloud’s skipper in 2019. Kenneth Reightler also has an important family connection with Cloud as John B. Harrison is his great-grandfather.

The historic log canoe Flying Cloud will be returning to the racing circuit in 2021.
Photograph courtesy of Kathy Noble.

Kenneth is also a retired astronaut and the U.S. Naval Academy’s Distinguished Chairman in Space Science. He serves as a volunteer coach for the U.S. Naval Academy’s Varsity Offshore Sailing Team and is an instructor-skipper and Officer in Tactical Command for the Offshore Sail Training Squadron. His log canoe experience started at an early age, serving as “bail boy” and progressing through boardsman, trimmer, tactician, and helmsman. For the past 15 seasons, he has been a regular crewman on the log canoe Island Bird.

The Paul B. Prager family of St. Michaels provided a $75,000 challenge match towards Flying Cloud’s renovation in October 2019. Paul Prager is a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, CEO and Chairman of Beowulf Energy, and principal of Bluepoint Hospitality Group in Easton.

A new Prager Family Trophy is to be awarded at the end of each sailing season to the log canoe winning the most sanctioned races on the Miles River. The Prager Family Trophy includes a metal sculpture of Flying Cloud by John C. North, II, with the annual winners receiving a keeper trophy to commemorate their victories.

During all races, Ned says Cloud will fly a distinctive pennant of Navy blue and gold with a “Blue Peter” inset in honor of Paul Prager, a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. The pennant is based on an original design by Chesapeake and log canoe artist Marc Castelli.

“Significant work was needed on her center log,” said former Flying Cloud owner Allan Noble. “This work was essential in saving her, and we’re grateful for each supporter who helped make this re-launch possible.”

In 2014, Allan donated Flying Cloud to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) in St. Michaels. Due to the museum’s heavy shipyard schedule, the log canoe was deaccessioned from CBMM’s collection. Allan says the Trust raised more than $150,000 to fully fund the restoration. Of significant help was a $20,000 donation from an anonymous donor, and 25 donated, limited edition prints of Cloud from artist Marc Castelli.

The last time Flying Cloud raced was in 2016. During that racing season, she experienced multiple failures of key components. Additionally, and as with all log canoes, time and the stresses of competition have deteriorated the logs of the hull, despite ongoing maintenance.

Flying Cloud is an exceptional artifact of this sailing tradition unique to the Eastern Shore. Her careful restoration and return to the racing circuit are imperative if we are to preserve this piece of our maritime heritage,” said Ned.

To make a donation, contact Ned Hennighausen at The Flying Cloud Log Canoe Preservation Trust is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, with charitable donations tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

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