(Banner photo by Paul Denbow)
The 'Twisted Oyster' race boat team consists of Jeff Swanson, Eric Brotherton, and Rick Loheed, who each contributed equally to build the very first boat- the only one to be called the 'Twisted Oyster'! We alternated turns racing the boat with the other team members providing team support, then Jeff bought us out so we could build more! We highly recommend the team approach- it hasn't always been easy but it turns out it is tremendously rewarding!
The Smith Island Crab Skiff Association organizes racing events around the Chesapeake Bay to keep the tradition of these boats alive. To quote the Association Facebook page: "Created to preserve the heritage and history of the Smith Island Crab Skiff". You can find the page here! It's a great bunch of guys- it's nearly impossible not to have fun at a Smith Island Crab Skiff racing event!
The powered Smith Island Crab Skiff was an evolution from the cat-rigged sailing bateaus used for crabbing in the late 1800's. In 1919 Captain Lawson Tyler designed and built a narrow beam motorized single cylinder 20 ft skiff. These were mostly built in pine or cypress with longitudinal planking. Soon they began to race them on weekends! The Island is located in the biggest part of the Chesapeake Bay just off Crisfield, Maryland. (See map below) This is the beautiful example in the Smith Island Museum we visited over the summer!
Though these craft are narrow beam, they ride very well in waves and are really fun to drive! They would be very good anywhere as a sleek, fast, classy little boat with history to fish or crab from!
'Twisted Oyster Boats' evolved from this effort, and is a trademark of Loheed Technologies. Loheed Technologies offers Design, Naval Architecture, Marine Engineering and fabrication work including fiberglass/epoxy and carbon/epoxy composites. We use Rhinoceros and SolidWorks 3D CAD software for design, then program parts for cutting on the CNC router writing the G-Codes using 'MADCam' and our own proprietary Rhinoceros plug-in, 'NCNinja'. The in-house CNC router has a 50" x 100" x 6" capacity and is capable of full 3D.
Loheed Technologies is a proud partner in 'The Island Group', working with Island Engineering, Inc. to design and build motion control systems for high speed ships. Rick Loheed is the Chief Hydro-dynamicist and a Senior Engineer for the company, while President Bill McFann and Vice President Tim Pannone maintain operations a the IEI facility on St. George Island. The Island Engineering, Inc. machine shop has a CNC mill, a Lagun mill with digital gauging, several lathes, gas, stick, MIG & TIG welding capabilities. The 'Twisted Oyster' team race boat's clutch and propeller shaft were machined at Island Engineering, Inc.