Ths Sultana, Chestertown, MD Cpt. Tanya Banks-Christense by Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race Facebook page
The government may be back in business, but the big news on the outskirts of DC is the 24th Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race. The race started at approximately 1400 (that's 2 pm for you landlubbers) on Oct. 17, when the first warning gun was fired just south of Maryland's Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
Adventurer, Annapolis, MD. Cpt. Duncan Hood. by Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race Facebook page
Planning a boat race on the East Coast during hurricane season can be risky business, but King Neptune must have been smiling today as he bestowed near-perfect weather.
LIberty Clipper, Boston, MA. Cpt. Andy Huntoon by Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race Facebook page
The schooners are sailing 127 nautical miles down the Chesapeake Bay from Annapolis to Portsmouth, Virginia, an historic route. The finish line for classes A and AA is an east-west line at Thimble Shoal Light. Classes B and C finish at Windmill Point and proceed to docking in Portsmouth.
The Virginia from Norfolk, VA. Cpt. Hank Moseley by Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race Facebook page
In 2007 the schooner, Virginia, set a new record of 11 hours, 18 minutes and 53 seconds. She beat the previous record by well over 90 minutes. That record of 12 hours, 57 minutes, 51 seconds, was set in 2005 by "Imagine!"
The Bohemian from Davidsonville, MD. Cpt. David Wiedeman by Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race Facebook page
The 2013 Fleet list includes 35 schooners.
Festivities started in Maryland on Monday. Visitors were able to view the schooners dockside at the Baltimore Marine Center Lighthouse Point, which is nestled along the waterfront in Baltimore's renowned Inner Harbor. Schoolchildren, as well as young patients receiving treatment at Johns Hopkins, participated in a number of interactive educational activities onboard the ships.
The Parade of Sail Oct. 16, 2013 by Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race Facebook page
On Wednesday the schooners participated in the Parade of Sail in the harbor area.
Heron, Solomons Island, MD. Cpt. Aram Nersesian by Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race Facebook page
The 2012 Parade of Sail as viewed from the crows nest of the Heron can be seen in this video:
The race is designed to focus on the maritime traditions of schooners and to bring attention to the environmental issues facing the Chesapeake Bay. All net proceeds of the race are donated to support youth education efforts aimed at saving the bay.
Sally B., Galesville, MD. Cpt. Daniel MacLeod by Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race Facebook page
More than 150 schooners have participated since the race was initiated 24 years ago. 40 have raced at least five times. The Norfolk Rebel, the only Tugantine in the world, hasn't missed a race yet. (What's a "Tugantine" you ask? More on that tomorrow in Part 2 of this series.)
Norfolk Rebel, Norfolk VA. Cpt. Steve Briggs. Photo: Pam Fraser. by Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race Facebook page
You can track the schooners on a live map at http://www.baltimoremarinecenters.com .
The race is a grassroots event: the same volunteers who donate work, also donate money. There are no cash awards, these folks do it for the love of sailing! If you want to share the love, donations to the race are tax-deductible under 501(c)3 and qualify for employer matches: http://www.schoonerrace.org
Mystic Whaler, New London, CT. Cpt. John Eginton by Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race Facebook page
Stay tuned for Part Two which includes the enchanting story about how this race got started, the historic schooner route in the Chesapeake Bay, and more about the unique Tugantine.
Pride of Baltimore II, Baltimore, MD. Cpt. Jan Miles by Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race Facebook page