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The First Skipjack by Pepper Langley
The first model Skipjack of this type built by Pepper Langley

The Solomon’s Island Model Boat Club
By Don Miller
(Edited and updated Winter 2012)

The origin of the Solomons Island Model Boat Club (SIMBC) lies in the modeling and sailing interests of the Calvert Marine Museum’s master carver emeritus, the late James LeRoy “Pepper” Langley. The club was formed in 1980 with Pepper, his son Jimmy Langley, Gordon Bupp, George “Rip” Van Winkle, George “Barney” Woods and Carroll Lusby as the charter members. Pepper’s design for a model of a Chesapeake Bay skipjack was translated into a standard set of plans, then into a working model named LADY KATIE. Carroll Lusby formalized the plans, Gordon Bupp brought radio and electronics expertise and George Van Winkle was the resident engineer. By the end of 1980 there were six radio controlled sailboats racing in the Museum’s creek and the Chesapeake Ranch Club. SIMBC grew rapidly from this modest beginning. Charles Pelzer, the first Secretary, also began The Skipwriter, the Club’s newsletter in December 1981. Much of the information in this article is from a special anniversary issue of The Skipwriter which was richly contributed by Mr. Pelzer.

The Club is dedicated to preserving the maritime heritage of the Chesapeake Bay by building and operating radio controlled model boats. The skipjack was selected as the initial club boat because of its historical significance on the Bay as the oyster “drudger”, commonly used in Maryland to dredge for oysters since late in the nineteenth century. The model skipjack, the Skipjack 48, sailed by many clubs in the region, is recognized by the US Vintage Model Yacht Group of the American Model Yacht Association (AMYA) as a Traditional Watercraft of the Chesapeake Bay. The Club is a member of the AMYA and recognized as Club No. 90. In addition, the club is a chartered club of the Scale Ship Modelers Association of North America. The model Skipjack 48 is 48 inches on deck and has a 50 inch mast. The “leg-of-mutton” main and club footed jib. The hull is fitted with toe rails, side or rub rails, a bowsprit and longhead and a 10-pound lead keel cast in the shape of a centerboard. The cabin and hatch details follow closely those of the prototype, but leave some discretion of expression to the individual modeler. As with LADY KATIE many of the models sport elaborately carved and painted trailboards fitted in the “bends” from beneath the bowsprit to the hull. Radios control the onboard servos which position the sails and the rudder for proper points of sailing. The Club has plans and parts available for the Skipjack 48 builders from the Ship’s Store on the Quartermaster’s Page of this website.

The models are a challenge, but fun to build, with plenty of advice and help available from members at the SIMBC meetings. The club conducts meetings on Saturdays during the cold months while Skipjack races are regular attractions on Sundays during the warmer months. They start on Back Creek near the Drum Point Lighthouse at the Museum, usually at 2:00 PM after the Wm B. TENNISON has sailed on her public cruise. The regular Skipjack series runs from April/May through October with the COMMODORE CUP race capping the season. Frostbite races are usually scheduled in the off months, weather permitting. The Schedule of Events can be found at:

The club has hosted, with the Great Schooner Model Society (see link to GSMS website) and the Calvert Marine Museum, the US Vintage Model Yacht Group Traditional Watercraft Regatta in 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2009. This is a popular regatta with both the participants and the public. The 2005 Traditional Watercraft Regatta had 58 models from eleven states registered in six classes. Probably the most popular class with the visitors to the museum is the Large Schooner Class where the models are 5 to 6 feet long on deck and are majestic when sailing at hull speed. The smaller models provide quick action on the race course for the viewers. In the Skipjack 48 Class, models come no only from the Solomons but from cities as far away as Cincinnati, OH, Charleston, SC and Long Island, NY.

The members of the SIMBC are deeply grateful to the Calvert Marine Museum for sponsoring the Club since its inception. Use of the Museum’s Woodworking Shop and other facilities along with access to Jimmy Langley and Skip Edwards are essential to the continued success of the Club. The Solomons Island Model Boat Club extends an invitation to one and all to join in the fun and sport of building and operating radio controlled models that preserve the maritime history of the Chesapeake Bay.

Latest page update: made by SIMBC , Feb 5 2012, 7:08 AM EST (about this update About This Update SIMBC Edited by SIMBC

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