There are docking skills and then there are these skills. And as they say around the Chesapeake, "It's an Eastern Shore thing; you wouldn't understand."
There is only one speed when docking these boats: Full Throttle.

There is only one speed when docking these boats: Full Throttle.

Docking is a special skill, to some it comes intuitively and to other it requires practice. But for those who boat for a living, docking becomes second nature. Such is the case of the workboat captains of the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake is long known for its maritime traditions and culinary delicacies like soft shell and blue crab. And as anyone who has worked in commercial fishing (or watched The Deadliest Catch) knows, competition runs thick amongst maritime work-boaters.

So, I was only partially surprised to come across a sport unique to the Chesapeake Bay, called "Water Rodeo." With sponsors and weekly events throughout the summer, these Chesapeake cowboys compete in a variety of events to decide who is the fastest docker in the East. Usually hosted at a waterfront bar, boats compete in a variety of categories and include heats for individuals as well as couples. 

Here's how it works: The timer starts when you leave the dock. Boats transit down the waterway as fast as possible, and then must back down on a slip, and lasso four poles in order to stop the timer. The fastest time wins.

Take a look at the video below and know that TrawlerFest docking guru, Bob Sweet, nor any of us at PassageMaker suggest docking at these speeds or in this fashion. (If you want to know our thoughts on docking, check out Bob's Boat Handling course at Boaters University). But it is fun to watch, as individuals compete at a task we all do but with much higher stakes and skills.

Give the following video a watch and look out for the 16-year-old captain showing off pile-roping chops. According to the Chesapeake Cowboys web page their youngest competitor is 10 years old! And if you are arriving early before TrawlerFest starts next week, make your way over to Brew River Restaurant and Bar in Salisbury, MD, September 21st and 22nd for the last competition of the season!

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