BatteauBoat FlippingHistory of the James River Batteau FestivalSterling James

2022 Batteau Season off to a great start – The newly re-named “Batteau Sterling James” – Boat Flipping 4-9-22

It was a really great and beautiful day to drive from New London to Madison Heights to Batteau House and drop off some Slate River Atlases I bound for Pete Runge for an event coming up this month. (More details on the event to come.) I dropped of the box inside Batteau House and just looked around Bill’s table area and everything seemed normal. Bill’s Brother, Stran Trout, recently passed and Bill is traveling to take care of his brothers affairs. I missed Bill helping me bind the books. Usually Bill and I get together down in my basement and he sits at the spiral plastic binding machine (That Ralph Smith donated the funds for originally fyi!), and he does the punching, a few sheets at a time, and swirls in the plastic spiral coil piece in, and hands it to me and I crimp the ends and make sure he’s set up right. He loves doing this binding.

So anyway, on To The boat flipping! It was quite an adventure just getting there going via Amelia and cutting over to Powhatan. As usual, I turned left instead of right and ended up going past some beautiful old farms and barns. So Jake dog and I went to Cartersville and sat on a new park bench that is located at the point overlooking the boat ramp, where Sue Seawell used to ring the cowbell welcoming the batteaux in the early days of the JRBF. 

Then going across the river, which was swelled up right good and brown, and on down the road that leads to Westview on to the site of the work being done on the newly re-named “Batteau Sterling James”.

I met Mr. James Sterling Jones. He was really awesome and it was great to meet and talk with him! His daughter Jeraldine (not sure I have the spelling right) was a real go getter, very detail oriented, strong, hard-working batteauist! 

I was completely impressed by the old bus that they had stacked up nice beautiful band saw milled, (you can see the cut marks vs back in 1993 when I had white oak boards delivered from Ohio that were cut on a very old circular saw), White Oak boards that they milled right there on the farm. Very Very awesome!

I arrived early and was happy to help hold boards and whatever and it was funny when Jeraldine would say “helicopter” and we would spin the board around.

The crew was camping out there and had a great set up with all sorts of tools and saws and a power cord  and tractors and everything you might ever need except enough 1/8″ drill bits and batteries and chargers for the drills and stuff like that. The back and forth general carrying on joking and poking fun with everyone was great. 

The story about the boat I’m told is that they bought the old batteau Rivertime and are fixing it up good enough for this year with the goal of a new boat for next year. I feel old when I say this but i get the feeling this crew is going to be great! Jeraldine even handed me a brand of beer and I said thank you, that’s Americas Oldest Brewery and I really like this beer! (FYI, I don’t drink much beer anymore, unlike the old Pride of Campbell County II Batteau in 1989 when we had a horse trailer with one big back corner compartment stacked full with 50 something cases of beer and then we ran out and had to go get more. Whoa that was back in the day!) I really enjoyed the beer, thank you Jeraldine!

Then Ned Nelson’s old Trailer was pulled out from underneath of the boat, with an old tractor holding the other end and they pulled it off onto bales of hay. After getting all ready, we took the time to make sure what was going on with the flipping details. So then  Brian Coffield, Virginia Canals & Navigations Society, President, (JRBF’s Parent Org. FYI), spoke to the crowd in attendance and counted off 1,2 – 1,2 down the line and people went around once the boat was lifted half way starting with the 2’s .  The process went smoothly.

Afterwards, there was a very nice Chili contest. I’m not sure who won and I declined to vote as I only tasted 2 of the entries, but I can say they were good!

Jake Dog and I continued on to Chester to visit Mom and Split firewood this week.

This was a great Batteau Day!

Holt

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PS. I forgot to remind you all that I’m working on The History Of The James River Batteau Festival book.

I’m gathering old photos and recently bought a new laptop to hold more pictures etc.  I’ve loaded in years and years worth of old cd backup copies of photos that I made blogging for the JRBF, into the new combined photo library. The software has a faces feature and I’ve spent hours and hours going through my oldest digital photos I can find so far and circling faces. It is hard finding all the old pictures. I did find old film packs from the drugstore from 1988 when I visited the festival. 

If you have digital photos you want me to consider for the book you can email them to me on my holt@vacanals.org email,

or, I would prefer if you sent your photos to my new laptop email I set up just to work on this book: photos@holtmesserly.com .

If you have a large quantity of photos you can get with me and we can work out the details.