They may be absent bucking bulls and broncos, but there’s nothing tame about the Chesapeake’s water rodeos. Boat docking competitions have drawn thousands of spectators to Eastern Shore communities and marinas for nearly 50 years. In 2018 you can get in on the action at four events held in Dorchester County.

The timed contests are the ultimate challenge for Chesapeake workboat and charter captains. Beginning from a standstill, the helmsmen rev their engines in reverse and back into slips at high speeds. As the boats quickly come to a full stop, mates must lasso four poles with dock lines…or ropes since we’re talkin’ rodeo!

Divisions are held for every skill and age level – including young teens – in what has become an Eastern Shore family tradition. Captains compete for cash prizes and trophies, but it’s the all-important “king of the docks” bragging rights that matters most.

At Taylor’s Island, it’s billed “Black Smoke and White Water” for the dark clouds of exhaust that emerge amid the churning backsplash. It’s a bit dangerous and hilarious too as mates sometimes lose their balance and fall into the splash zone.

This year’s Dorchester-based action kicks off on June 16 at Long Wharf in Cambridge with the inaugural Chamber Challenge event. It’s followed by boat docking competitions at Suicide Bridge Restaurant and Marina on August 19 in Secretary; Slaughter Creek Marina on August 26 in Taylor’s Island; and PL Jones Marina & Boat Yard on September 9 in Fishing Creek.

The Cambridge and Suicide Bridge events are part of the 13-event Chesapeake Cowboys boat docking series.

“This is a great family event, and we are planning to have a large crowd out enjoying themselves at Long Wharf,” said Eddie James, chairman of the Cambridge Chamber Challenge.

In addition to boat docking, the Cambridge event features a bounce house, lawn games, face painting, food, ice cream, slushes and beer.

Chamber Challenge Boat Docking Event

Long Wharf, Cambridge, Maryland
June 16
Gates open at 11 a.m., practice at noon; competition 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
$10 admission for adults; children under 12 free
$30 VIP available including special parking and viewing from a tented area
Benefits:  Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce foundation scholarship fund and educational programs for businesses.

Suicide Bridge Extreme Boat Docking Contest

6304 Suicide Bridge Road, Secretary, Maryland
August 19
1 p.m.

Taylor’s Island Boat Docking Challenge

Slaughter’s Creek Marina, 638 Taylor’s Island Rd (Rt. 16), Taylor’s Island Maryland
August 26
Benefits Taylor’s Island Volunteer Fire Department

Hoopers Island Boat Docking Contest

P.L. Jones Boat Yard & Marina, 2560 Old House Point Rd., Fishing Creek
September 9
Gates open at 11 a.m.
Free admission
Benefits: Hoopers Island Volunteer Fire Department

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