ST. MICHAELS — Clear skies, a briny breeze — it’s the perfect time to go messing about in boats. That’s what the folks are doing this weekend at one of the nation’s largest gathering of small boat enthusiasts and unique watercraft at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.

It’s the Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival XXXVI — that’s 36 years of hosting small boat lovers on a special weekend in October.

Hundreds of amateur and professional boatbuilders come from far and wide to display their kayaks, canoes, rowing shells, sailing skiffs, paddle boats, prams and one-of-a-kind craft.

The boats are in and out of the water all weekend.

Small boat lovers come in all shapes and sizes, with some preferring sail power, some preferring oar power. Interestingly, outboard motors are hard to spot among the group.

A group of hardy sailors began their festival experience earlier this week with “gunkholing,” an overnight trip to Wye Island and back to St. Michaels Thursday and Friday.

Sailors on about 20 boats spent the night on their boats or tent camped on the island, making their way on fairly rough seas Friday morning into Eastern Bay and the Miles River. There also were a couple other expedition voyages to try.

Saturday’s events included craft workshops, a cardboard boat construction class, kid’s model building, metal forging, rowing races and a shanty sing — not to mention messing about in boats all day.

Sunday, the messing about will continue until the festival wraps up at about 1:30 p.m.

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