Immerse yourself in Annapolis' maritime heritage

Festival has a regatta, contests and `Pride II'


Sports / Activities / Events

April 28, 2005|By Annie Linskey | Annie Linskey,SUN STAFF

Annapolis, the self-appointed sailing capital of America, celebrates its waterside history this weekend at the annual Maryland Maritime Heritage Festival. Events will include a hodgepodge of activities related to boating.

"We're well-known internationally because of our sailing," said Annapolis Mayor Ellen Moyer. "But for a long time, the maritime industry was ignored."

The festival is neither the biggest nor the best-known Annapolis event. However, in addition to raising awareness about the city's maritime history, the festival has a secondary purpose.

"It is a placeholder" for the Volvo Ocean Race, said Clare Vanderbeek, executive director of the festival.

The festival ensures there is a staff structure in place so that every four years when the Volvo Ocean Race (formerly known as the Whitbread) sails into town, a seasoned, event-savvy group of people is on hand to coordinate logistics surrounding the much larger event, said Vanderbeek.

The Ocean Race boats are scheduled to be in the Baltimore-Annapolis area from April 19 to May 7 next year.

Until then, here are highlights of this year's Maritime Heritage Festival.

The Gary Jobson Cup Interscholastic Regatta.

Roughly a dozen high school students will race in the newly created Jobson Cup. (Jobson is an Annapolis resident who was a tactician with skipper Ted Turner on the 1977 America's Cup winner Courageous.)

Participants sail two-person dinghies called 420s. The race is open to all students -- they do not have to be members of yacht clubs or high school sailing teams. "Any two kids from any one school who want to get into a boat and race can do that," said Lee Tawney, who is helping to organize the regatta.

Races begin at 9:30 a.m. and will go until 3 p.m. Saturday.

Watermen's Boat Docking Contest

Plumes of diesel smoke, grinding engines, and -- gasp!-- an occasional swear word fill the air at the festival's boat-docking contest.

"It is sort of like a NASCAR event," said Betty Duty, who organized it. "It is NASCAR of the Bay."

During the contest, professional captains show off their boat-handling skills by bringing their vessels into the dock quickly and smoothly.

"It is hard to do without knocking the dock down," said Duty.

Working boats used for crabbing, fishing and oystering will participate.

The boat-docking contest will run from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday. Captains can practice, starting at 11 a.m.

Blessing of the Fleet

Sailors in Annapolis like to parade their boats. Twenty sail and power boats are expected to line up at the mouth of Spa Creek at 2 p.m. Sunday and glide past City Dock. The flotilla will circle the harbor a few times.

The Rev. Richardson A. Libby will stand on City Dock and bless the boats as they pass.

"It is a beginning-of-the-season type thing," explained Tom Stalder, who organizes this parade (Stalder also organizes the winter lights boat parade in December.)

The Blessing of the Fleet and Parade of Sail and Power Boats is 2 p.m. Sunday at City Dock.

Educational Booths

Every festival must include a handful of booths. The Maryland Heritage Festival was expecting at least 23 such stops. Visitors will be able to pick up information from the Havre de Grace Maritime Museum, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, the Naval Academy, Coast Guard Auxiliary and more. A scale model of the Thomas Point Lighthouse will be on display.

Sail on the Pride of Baltimore II

And, coincidentally, the Pride of Baltimore II will be in Annapolis this weekend. "She dominates any harbor she is in," said Capt. John Beebe-Center, one of the boat's two captains.

The two-masted sailboat, a replica of a 1800-era Baltimore Clipper, is 157 feet long. When passengers board the boat "they step back in time," said Beebe-Center. "They see what a vessel looks like from back in the day."

Annapolis is the Pride's last stop before it sails to Baltimore, Ireland, on Monday.

The boat will take passengers out to the bay at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $45. Call 888-55-PRIDE to make reservations.

For a full schedule of activities at the Maryland Maritime Heritage Festival, visit

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