Setting sail in Cedar Key

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By David Davis

There has never been an organization, no plans or no program for the annual “small boat weekend” in Cedar Key, but this past weekend marked 33 years that small boat sailors have trailered their boats to Cedar Key for a weekend of sailing on the Gulf.

Hugh Horton, of Cedar Key, said it is never clear how many boats show up, but there were 130 people at the dinner Saturday evening. He estimated about 80 boats were under sail this weekend, which is slightly less than previous estimates of 100.

“The first year, there were six or eight. It has just steadily grown over the years,” Horton said. “Chris Harkness started the small boat weekend. I missed the first weekend. The second year I took a few notes. For some reason, we were trying to get a few addresses and it just kept growing from there.”

Horton has been the spokesperson ever since the second weekend and files for the permit with the city.

The weather was clear, but breezy with gusts of up to 25 m.p.h. Friday but slacked off Saturday morning and it was almost perfect sailing weather Sunday, according to Horton.

The weather put a damper on sailing for some people on Friday, but not for others who don’t mind getting wet.

He said allshallow draft boats are welcome: poled punts, paddled pirogues and rowed pirates’ gigs; catboats and catamarans; trimarans and proas; sampans, sharpies and scows, and duckboats and dinghies. The largest this past weekend was a 44-ft. trawler with a very shallow draft, a very special trawler.

Horton sails one of his sailing bufflehead canoes that he has designed during the past 20 years.

“There are other sailing canoes here too, some my design, some not. The sailing community is really tiny, but all over the world, they’re pretty well known,” he said.