Contestants vying for Miss Skipjack are required to write an essay on what skipjacks and the way of life working on the water means to them. They are part of the scoring for the judges during the Miss Skipjack pageant. What follows is the essay from Miss Skipjack 2023 Emily Whitelock of Dames Quarter.
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Skipjacks have always been a huge part of my life. From the time that I was born I’ve always had a skipjack that I was involved with, whether it was my dad’s or my grandfather’s. So, skipjacks, the people that work on them, and the surrounding waters, have a special place in my heart.
Keeping the traditions that come with it alive are very important to me. I want my children to be able to grow up the way I have and learn how important these boats are to so many people’s livelihoods.
Owning a skipjack isn’t just about owning a boat, it takes over your whole life. The hard work that comes with these boats isn’t for the faint of heart. The people who own skipjacks are special people, they have so much dedication to the preservation of these boats.
I’m lucky enough to experience this hard work first-hand. Both my dad and grandfather have never shied away from letting me and my siblings help them with the task of maintaining many skipjacks over the years.
These boats have been a staple in our community for hundreds of years, and keeping them alive goes hand in hand with keeping this community alive. This pageant along with the Labor Day festival play a big part in keeping interest alive and informing people of these beautiful boats.
Without growing up on the water and on a skipjack I would not be the person I am today. It helped me understand how important these vessels are to many people’s lives. From putting food on the table, keeping the heritage alive, and pure enjoyment.
When I have a family of my own I would love to be able to take them out on a skipjack and show them what it really feels like to be out on the water on a boat like that, instead of just recalling the memories. They should be able to experience it, instead of just always wondering how it must’ve felt.
I want to share that with not only my children, but everyone. It is an experience like none other, and everyone should be able to experience it at least once.
My family has been involved with skipjacks as far back as we can remember, my dad’s family the Horseman's used to build them, and now we continue that by taking people out on the skipjack. Just seeing their eyes light up when we go under sail is enough proof of how important these boats really are.
Skipjacks are the core of our island, and without them we wouldn’t be nearly where we are today.
— Emily Whitelock, of Dames Quarter, is a sophomore at Washington High School. Joining her in her reign are Little Miss Skipjack Courtney Holland and Master Skipjack Carter Weber. The 64th annual Skipjack Race and Festival are Sunday and Monday, Sept. 3-4 in Deal Island.