James River Batteau Festival

I mixed it up a little bit yesterday and paddled my Bellyak 10.7 miles on the first day of the James River Batteau Festival, an amazing event that honors a bit of Virginia history, the batteau boat.

The traditional batteau boat.

Even though the working batteau is no longer used, historians and river enthusiasts still keep the memory alive. Batteau crews have hand built replicas of the 18th & early 19th century flat wooden cargo vessels once used to haul tobacco to travel on an 8 day journey from Lynchburg, VA to Maiden’s Landing in Powhatan, VA. Since 1985, the James River Batteau Festival, an annual event sponsored by the Virginia Canal & Navigations Society has had as many as 25 boats and their crews travel the 120 river mile (200 km) distance each year. This event has also become very popular for kayakers and canoeists who enjoy floating along amongst the batteaux on their voyage.

Paddling friend Shelli and I joined the River City Paddledawgz, a Richmond-based paddling group, to launch with the batteaux for the first 10 miles of their journey.

It was amazing to see so many people out on the water enjoying a great time and sharing our common love of being on the water. We chatted with many other kayakers, canoeists and batteau crew on our way down river and swapped stories.

It was a great day and so many people asked me about my unique craft, the Bellyak, so I told them the story of these boats and how they came to be.

What a great day on the water!


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