Sunday, June 2, 2019

A little mystery: An old photo of an Elizabeth City Moth Race, some time in the late 1940s

Greg Duncan came up for the Patterson
Regatta, which was held this past Saturday in Chestertown, Maryland, and gave me the photograph seen above.  Here we see an undated photo taken in Elizabeth City, North Carolina at some point in the late 1940s.  This photo is of a fairly important regatta.  I know this because the boat closest to the camera is Nr 898, which was Charlie Shelton's Moth Cindy.  Charlie was one of the kids who hung out at Harry Cates' boat shop in Miami, Florida.  Charlie and Harry were, at this time point, both sailing Harry's interpretation of Dorr Willey's Moth design.  Unlike Dorr's boats, Harry's were much lighter.  Some dismissively claimed that Cates built his boats out of orange crate wood.  I prefer to think he used thin plywood.  But never mind all that.  If Charlie is here, all the way from FLA, no doubt Harry is also somewhere in the photo, sailing Hornet, Nr 899.  I doubt if they would have traveled all the way to E. City for a minor event.  Another clue is the boat windward of Charlie Shelton.  This boat, Foam, Nr 1021 is down from the Rocky Point Moth Club which was located in Old Greenwich, Connecticut.  Nr 1021 is an Etchells, "Connecticut" design Moth and was registered to Wm Ross of Old Greenwich in 1949.  The final sail number which I can make out is Nr 806, a Dorr Willey Moth registered to Peggy Bonned from Elizabeth City in 1948. Now, the Pasquotank River YC hosted the Nationals in '48 and the Internationals in '49.  So I think I can be confident that this photo is from one or the other of those two events.  Can anyone narrow it down?


  1. and a good time was had by all. Amazing what a picture will tell you. Wonder if 913 Red Robin or 1667 is there.

  2. Red Robin is a possibility but your Connecticut, Nr 1667 is a few years younger than this pix.