Island Bird #4
“Island Bird”, ths smallest of all log canoes now racing, was built in 1882 at Tilghman’s Island, Maryland by William Sidney Covington. “Captain Sid”, as he was known, was a man of many talents. Not only did he build log canoes, but he also operated a canning factory, acted as an agent for the steamboats that regularly called at Tilghman, served as the local magistrate and taught Sunday School to generations of young men.
“Bird” was the first of a series of fast racing canoes built by Capt. Sid, all having similar names - “Island Belle”, “Island Bird”, “Island Blossom” and “Island Beauty”.
She was a successful canoe from the very first, and a number of pictures taken before the turn of the century who her with a long pennant lettered “Champion” flying from the head of the foremast. One of the pictures is duplicated in the embossing on the face of the Governor’s Cup.
The names of her earliest owners have been lost, but she was sailing out of St. Michaels in the 1920’s while owned by Mr. J.H. Caulk Kemp. In the 1930’s a friend of Mr. Kemp’s commissioned the naval architect Phillip Rhodes to design a modern rig for “Bird”. The result was first hollow masts and curved sprits (built by Pigeon Hollow Spar) to be seen on a log canoe.
In 1947 Mr. Kemp died, and his widow sold “Bird” to Mr. Fred Touchton of Annapolis, who also owned “Mystery” at that time. After one unsuccessful race in which she capsized in a storm and abandoned overnight, Mr. Touchton offered “Bird” for sale to the late John C. North of Easton, who was the grandson of the builder. In 1935 Mr. North demonstrated his interest in log canoes by donation to the Miles River Yacht Club the William Sidney Covington Memorial Trophy to be raced for annually by log canoes built before 1917. This trophy is a sliver log canoe modeled after “Island Bird”.
“Bird” returned to Talbot Country in 1947 and was rebuilt by Capt. George North, assisted by John C. North II. George North was in his 80’s at this time and had worked as an apprentice with Capt. Sid when “Bird” was first constructed. Judge John C. North II owns and sails the “Bird” today.
Since 1984 “Bird” had raced in every Miles River regatta and has won every major trophy several times over the years she has been skippered by Judge North.