The Sultana Downrigging Weekend and Tall Ship and Wooden Boat Festival has grown to be one of the largest annual Tall Ship gatherings on the East Coast. Now in its 17th year, it is held on the Chester River in Chestertown, MD, one of America’s best preserved colonial seaports. It always worth the trip. This year the downrigging weekend is from October 27-29.
If you are interested in the history of sailing craft, just walking the Chestertown docks at the downrigging is an education in itself. Four centuries of sail will be represented. From the 17th century, the Kalmar Nyckel is a re-creation of the first colonial Swedish settlement ship to arrive in America in the mid-1600s. The schooner Sultana, the festival host, is a replica of an 18th-century colonial schooner. The schooners Lynx and Pride of Baltimore II are replicas of 19th century “Baltimore clippers” from the War of 1812. Also from the 19th century is the Lady Maryland, a replica pungy Chesapeake Bay cargo schooner. Three non-replicas represent the 20th century. The oyster-dredging skipjacks Elsworth and Sigsbee were both built in 1901. The A.J. Meerwald, launched in 1928, was one of hundreds of oyster schooners built along the South Jersey’s Delaware Bayshore before the Great Depression.
The ships will be open for free dockside tours on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Click here for times and details. Day sails are also being offered on the participating historic and tall ships. Click here for schedules and to buy tickets.