Downrigging is one of those necessary chores on a sailing vessel at the end of a season before the winter sets in. The good folks at the Sultana Education Foundation have turned the necessary and often bittersweet chore of downrigging the replica schooner Sultana into a festival celebrating tall ships and wooden boats. Starting Friday, October 31 and running through Sunday November, 2 in Chestertown, MD, the “Downrigging Weekend” will feature tall ships, art, music and food in one of America’s best preserved historic seaports. The tall ships Kalmar Nyckel, Lady Maryland, Pride of Baltimore II and A.J. Meerwald will be joining the schooner Sultana for dockside tours and, weather and space permitting, public sails.
From the Sultana Education Foundation website: Now in its fourteenth year, Sultana Downrigging Weekend is one of the largest annual Tall Ship and wooden boat festivals on the East Coast. Originally established to mark the end of the schooner SULTANA’s sailing season, Sultana Downrigging Weekend has grown to become a celebration of maritime culture, wooden boats, and everything else that makes the Chesapeake Bay great. What can you expect at Downrigging? A waterfront packed with ships, schooners, and wooden boats; performances by world-class musicians; lectures by nationally recognized authors and filmmakers; opportunities to go sailing as part of a fleet of “Tall Ships;” and the chance to spend the weekend in one of America’s best preserved historic seaports. Don’t miss it!
In addition to the tall ships, there will be smaller sailing craft on display including the skipjacks Elsworth and Sigsbee. There will also be the smallest of boats — sailing models — on display. As reported by MYEasternShoreMD:
In addition to the big boats, one of the most popular attractions at Downrigging is the Model Boat Extravaganza, in which kids (and adults, too) can build and sail wooden model boats. This year, the event will feature three tanks for model sailors to launch their creations. The event is at the foot of High Street, 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday.
Cerino said that Downrigging has expanded far beyond its origins as a Sultana Foundation event. Art exhibitions, music, lectures and a host of other events will keep visitors entertained and informed after they’ve seen the ships.
A special treat is the fireworks display at 7 p.m. Saturday. The fireworks are launched from Wilmer Park, and viewing should be good from any point on the waterfront. The rain date for fireworks is Sunday.
Thanks to Irwin Bryan for contributing to this post.