Raft race on track for Fourth

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 3, 2005

&uot;It’s coming together,&uot; Chris Nierman said Friday in the garage of his Eclipse home, looking over the vessel that just might carry him and his crew to victory in the 29th annual Chuckatuck Creek raft race Monday afternoon. &uot;We still have a few more days of work to do.&uot;

In the past, Nierman’s water-bearers have borne the image of Noah’s Ark (named for his son Noah), the USS Ronald Regan (named after his daughter Regan) and the Titanic, which, appropriately enough, is the only boat Nierman’s ever created that met a watery grave (&uot;Everyone thought that we planned that, but we didn’t,&uot; Nierman said. &uot;We lost a good canoe that day.&uot;).

This year, he’s shivering the timbers of one of the sea’s greatest outlaws: Blackbeard the pirate, onboard the Queen Anne’s Revenge.

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&uot;We’re going to have masts and a crow’s nest,&uot; Nierman said. &uot;We might even put in a few skeletons. It’s just a tradition; we could make the same boat every year, but it would be boring.&uot;

The race, scheduled to begin at about 3 p.m., starts off at the base of the Chuckatuck Creek Bridge and goes about a half-mile down the Nansemond River.

&uot;We’ve never won the race,&uot; Nierman said, &uot;but we always win best design, most original, something like that. The people in the neighborhood always get a kick out of seeing the boats. I don’t mean to sound cocky, but if we stopped doing it, I’m afraid the race might fold.&uot;

The race is just one part of the Independence Day celebration sponsored by the Crittenden, Eclipse and Hobson Ruritan Club. A parade starts between 11 and 11:30 a.m. through Crittenden and Eclipse, after which the celebration will begin at Ebenezer United Methodist Church. After the raft race, a band will play until the fireworks show, which is scheduled to begin around 9 p.m. Paid for by the Ruritan Club, the show will feature a display of roughly $10,000 worth of fireworks, and is expected to be attended by roughly 4,000 fans.