Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Down Rigging Days in Chestertown

The tall ship Sultana was built in Chestertown during the winter of 2001.  Each fall the town celebrates putting their ship to rest for the winter.  Generally, Sultana is joined by other tall ships for a weekend of parties, short sails on the Chester River and opportunities for the public to meet the crews and see the ships up close.  The festivities begin on Friday.  This year, fellow blogger, Baydog, planned to come down on Friday and asked if I'd be there.  Diaristwoman and I were able to take off the afternoon from work.  What follows are some of what we saw.
This way to the ships.

First stop is the information tent.  Can't tell a Knight from a Day without a program.

The original Kalmar Nyckel (Swedish for "Key of Kalmar"; Kalmar is a town on the Baltic coast of Sweden) brought many Swedish and Finnish colonists to "New Sweden" (northern Delaware and parts of southern New Jersey).  This replica, built in 1997 serves as the tall ship of the State of Delaware.

The Kalmar Nyckel's figure head.  Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus was known as the "lion of the north".   This ship is the Scandinavian equivalent of the Mayflower.  Starting in 1638 she made a total of four round-trip crossings of the Atlantic--more than any other ship of her era.

The cat boat Silent Maid was docked near by.

Francis Sweisguth is perhaps better known as the designer of the Star class boat.

You don't see dueling bowsprits everyday.  Even the incoming Chesapeake skipjack has one.

The tents seen to the left provided shelter for a local musical group and provided beer and oysters.
Details on the Kalmar Nyckel.  I think some of these gargoyles are representations of her shipwrights.

In those days even merchant ships carried some fire power.  Pirates, matey...

As we walked along the docks we encountered many interesting small boats like Peeler, a Smith Island crab skiff
Several "buy boats" (power boats which purchase the catch of the sail powered bugeyes and skipjacks) were on hand.  Annie D. has been converted for use by the Echo Hill Outdoor School for environmental studies.
Enjoying a spot of coffee in the sunshine.  Friday turned out to be the best day.  It was a crisp but pleasantly warm Halloween afternoon.  Saturday turned cold and rainy.  Sunday was dry but heavily overcast and cold.
From time to time my eye turned back towards the town.  Chestertown is a pleasant small town with many historical buildings.  We'll look at a few in a later post.
The route 213 drawbridge over the Chester River.  To the left, the road goes north all the way to Pennsylvania.  To the right, it goes south, joining routes 301 and 50.  Those roads take you to  either Annapolis or to the Maryland and Delaware beaches.
Further along, we encountered this large cat boat.

I always enjoy the lines of a nice commuter style motor yacht.  It makes me wonder why designers of modern power craft seem to produce only the ugly craft that currently inhabit most marinas.

A nicely turned out drake tail work boat.

Maryland's tall ship, Pride of Baltimore II was also present.  This ship, built in 1988 replaces an earlier Pride of Baltimore which was lost at sea in 1986.  You can read about these ships here.
One of the deadeyes which terminates part of the standing rigging on Pride II.

Like the privateer which inspired her, Pride II sports her share of canon.
Masts rising above the roofs of buildings on the wharf, in this case, the Fish Whistle restaurant.  No doubt in the age of sail this scene would have been common.

The Baltimore clipper design, on which Pride II is based,  includes masts which have been given a distinct "Bermuda rake".
New Jersey's tall ship, A.J. Meerwald was also on hand.  The Meerwald was built in 1928 and served many years as an oyster schooner before being restored as a sailing classroom to teach New Jerseyans about the Delaware Bay ecological system as well as the region's maritime history.

We called Baydog on our mobile to see where he was.  He was out on fellow blogger Steve Early's boat Spartina.  Steve has posted more photos from Down Rigging weekend on his blog:

Steve seems to be a trusting soul.  Here it appears that he's allowed Baydog to take the helm.

Of course this weekend was supposed to be about the ship Sultana.  When we first arrived she was docked in a way which made photography difficult.  This view of the stern and the following one of the figurehead were as good as I could do until she got underway for a short cruise up and down the river.

 Sultana holds the distinction of being the smallest schooner ever to serve the British Royal Navy.

Finally, a good shot.
 Spartina also popped back into view, this time with Steve at the helm.  That meant Baydog was ashore.

And so he was.  Here Baydog (red jacket) and his brother Huck pose for the camera on their way up to Sultana HQ.  Their father, Jim Wagner helped build Sultana during the winter of 2001.  Baydog still has Jim's ID badge.

Walking back to the docks we passed the log canoe Silver Heel 
Silver Heel, based out of Chestertown, has her own Face Book page which contains lots of interesting photos and videos.  Log canoe racing goes way back on the Chesapeake.
A bow shot featuring Pride II and the Lady Maryland.

A closer look at Lady Maryland.

This large green schooner anchored out in the river.

The skipjack Elsworth.  Note the distinctive Baltimore clipper bow.
The Swedish naval ensign is a three forked design.

The Kalmar Nyckel  joined Sultana out on the river.

Great name for a mahogany speed boat.

Here's Spartina at the dock.

Spartina details.  I'm guessing that the lines coming down to the turning blocks are for the main and peak halyards.
As the sun started to dip, the small boats headed back in.
This little Beetle Cat is snug under her cockpit boom tent.  Part II of this report will feature some of the interesting houses and buildings found in Chestertown.


  1. Wow! George, you and the Diaristwoman really got around in the short period of time you were in Chestertown. Love your photos and great narrative.

    1. And great meeting you. Wish we had more time.......

    2. Thanks Baydog, we enjoyed meeting you and Huck as well. You no doubt have some great pix on your cell phone. You should post a few on your blog.

  2. Will do. Seems we traveled in many of the same footsteps, but not all......

    1. Post some pix of those Sultana gun covers. Also if you took any on the water pix from the Spartina those would be interesting to see.

  3. What a great event, sure beats our club's annual laying up supper

  4. Bursledon: Glad you enjoyed the pix, but what's for supper?!