After 71 days of rowing and sailing in a 17th-century-style wooden boat, the crew of the Capt. John Smith shallop are scheduled to arrive in Havre de Grace this morning, at Tydings Park near the Promenade.
Havre de Grace will celebrate the boat's arrival with a welcome ceremony for the 12-member crew and a proclamation from the mayor.
The shallop has been traveling up the Chesapeake, powered by wind and muscle along more than 800 miles into rivers and along shorelines.
Sultana Projects Inc., a nonprofit organization based in Chestertown, organized the voyage to inaugurate the Capt. John Smith Chesapeake National Trail.
In December, Congress authorized the country's first waterway trail, which extends 3,000 miles along the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
"Our main goal is to get people to like and value the bay," said Drew McMullen, the president of Sultana. "There's no real way to understand the bay without starting with Smith's voyage. He really recorded the bay and what it was like at a time when it was minimally affected by people."
In 1608, Smith and 14 fellow Englishmen set out from Jamestown, Va., seeking a new water route to the Pacific Ocean and hoped-for troves of gold and silver. Although he didn't find treasure or a new shortcut to the Pacific, Smith drew a detailed map of the Chesapeake Bay that explorers relied on for a century.
In many ways, the crew on the new shallop is living the way Smith and his crew did. They have no motor power on the 28-foot boat. They row with 26-pound wooden oars, alternating in 30-minute shifts.
"We've been doing more sailing," said Rebecca Pskowski, 24, a crew member who was interviewed during a stop in Annapolis last week. "The rowing hasn't been as brutal. We've had good wind."
Every week, they stop in different places to display the shallop and answer questions about their journey.
Pskowski has noticed a few physical changes to the crew members as they passed the halfway mark of their voyage last week.
Because the shallop is an open boat, the crew must sit outside in the sun and rain. "We're all tanner and blonder," she said. "And rowing has become a lot easier."
Captained by Ian Bystrom, the shallop left Jamestown on May 12. After today's visit in Havre de Grace, it heads south to two more Maryland cities: Baltimore and St. Leonard. Before returning to Jamestown on Sept. 8, the crew will have traveled 1,500 miles.
"It's kind of stepping back into history. I'm glad they're coming into Havre de Grace," said Mayor Wayne Dougherty.
Several events are planned to welcome the crew's arrival in Havre de Grace.
At 10 a.m., the shallop is to arrive at Tydings Park, beginning an hourlong welcome ceremony with a proclamation presented by Dougherty. Several federal, state and local elected officials are expected to attend.
The 2007 Maritime Heritage Festival, which started Friday, continues today. The event features live music, boat-building demonstrations, local foods and crafts, living history displays, children's activities and a boat raffle.
The Vandiver Inn will host the crew tonight with a "Shallop and Scallop" meal inspired by 17th-century cuisine.
"We expect [the festival] to be much larger because of the visit of the re-enactment of the John Smith shallop," said Ron Root, the event coordinator for the festival. "This year, it's a community event that involves all our museums and the city."