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!
Smith Island Crabbing Skiff 20-Foot
In the late 1890s, soft shell crab harvesting on the Chesapeake was done by single-
sail bateau or by throwing crab netting at low tide. In 1919 Captain Lawson Tyler, a
noted Smith Island carpenter designed a sturdy single cylinder motorized long and
narrow 20' skiff. Over the years the engines were upgraded and the speedy little
skiffs bows would spring out of the water and eventually would be used for weekend
racng. They were built mostly out of pine or cypress wth botom planking running
lengthwise, rather than the common cross planking, allowing faster movement through
The skiff race has found new life, a select few craftsman here in MD & VA have
decided to build replicas, insert a Kohler 20 hp lawn mower engine and enjoy the thrill
of racing on the bay.*
The Smith Island Crab Skiff Association (SICSA) Regatta at Tall
Timbers Marina is scheduled to take place on July 16, 2016.
Rumors are, a PBS film crew will be here for the event! This will
be the 4th annual SICSA regatta hosted by Tall Timbers Marina!
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! Click HERE to see
The Twisted Oyster
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 alternate
turns racing the boat with the other team members providing team support. We highly recommend the
team approach- it hasn't always been easy but it turns out it is tremendously rewarding!
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 was Director of Engineering for
the company with President Bill McFann and Vice President Tim Pannone before branching out with his own
sole proprietor business, Loheed Technologies. The Island Engineering, Inc. machine shop he helped create
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.