Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Day One- Underway

 Schooner Spirit of Independence getting underway. Photo by Alison Elder.
Sunday morning:  We arrived at Tidewater Yacht Marina Sunday to a clear and sun shining morning to board the schooner SPIRIT OF INDEPENDENCE. The weather prediction was for clear weather with light winds and plenty of sunshine. Though perfect for cruising up the Chesapeake, not the best for hoisting sails and sailing the schooner to our destination- Baltimore, Maryland for the 22nd Annual Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race.

This year, the SPIRIT OF INDEPENDENCE crew is composed of Captain J.C. Waters and daughter/first mate Joy Waters, crew members Peter Youngblood, Anita Seidler, Allen Graves and myself Joe Elder, Walter Staniszewski, Joshua Harvey and Juliet Horan. After stowing away personal gear and the remainder of the groceries, and a review of on board details by the captain, we said our goodbyes to those that had come  to see us off including my wife Alison who has graciously supported my opportunity to crew and for her to stay behind and solely manage our business- Skipjack Nautical Wares & Marine Gallery.

We pulled away from the docks at approximately 9:30 a.m. and headed up the Elizabeth River, passing by the  familiar sites of the numerous blue-colored cranes that tower above the shipping terminals that border both the Portsmouth and Norfolk sides of the river. The Elizabeth River feeds into the James River and  Hampton River that make up the waters known as Hampton Roads to we passed by Fort Wool and Fort Monroe, two historic monuments that guard the confluence of rivers inside and into the wider spans of the Chesapeake Bay.

Plans of raising sails as we rounded the corner were delayed with only a slight breeze out of the northwest that was so light that raising the sails would only make them slat  and swing back and forth with each movement of the vessel, so we pushed on under the power of the Spirit's diesel engines.

A container ship in front of us on the Elizabeth River. Photo by Allen B. Graves. 
 A rather quiet day motoring up the bay led to an even less eventful afternoon. The usual shipping traffic on the bay, typically busy with large container ships was nearly void of activity and the light afternoon breeze died out to absolutely still lake-smooth waters. A light fog rolled in near sunset that produced an eerie, somewhat ghostly still view of the horizon that morphed the water to the sky making them almost indistinguishable from each another.  A brilliant sunset illuminated the edge of bright red skies until the sun passed beyond the horizon. "Red sky at night, sailors delight."

Passing by a buoy in lake-still water. Photo by Allen B. Graves. 
"Red sky at night, sailors delight" Photo by Allen B. Graves.
The evening watch is composed of two alternating crews. I was teamed up with Joy Waters, Allen Graves, and Joshua Harvey for the 8 p.m. to midnight watch and again from the 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. watch with the other members on the other. The shipping traffic continued to be almost non-existent and strangely enough, even the small boat traffic was gone as well. But still, watchful eyes is a non-stop responsibility of the watch crew to notify the helmsman of any potential boating traffic that may come into our path of passage or unknowingly coming up from behind and traveling at a much faster speed. As our watch crew was on, the alternate crew was for the most at rest only to be reminded each half an hour by the "ringing of the bell". Seven bells is the warning of thirty minutes to the change in watch and time to get prepared for the exchange...a great relief for tired and cold crew.

An interesting note- at approximately 9 p.m., Allen noticed what appeared to be distant fireworks off  the starboard side of the schooner. Way off in the distance, somewhere along the eastern shore side of the bay, a display of fireworks was underway. Miniature explosions of bright lights in red, green, gold and white was barely visible and continued until we were completely out of viewing range.

Sunrise silhouettes the Spirit's ships bell. Photo by Allen B. Graves.   
 The bright sunrise illuminated clear skies- a good sign for today's weather and as the ringing of five bells announced the new day as the journey up the bay continued. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

The 22ND Annual Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race- Schooner Racing on the Bay

Port view taken from the deck of the schooner "Spirit of Independence" during the beginning of the 21st Annual Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race. Photo by Allen B. Graves.
Experience the excitement and adventure aboard the schooner 'Spirit of Indepenence' during the 22nd Annual Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race- Racing to Save the Bay. This year, I will join Captain J.C. Waters as part of the crew together with photographer/author Allen Graves reporting daily from the deck of the 'Spirit of Independence' as we set sail from our home port of Portsmouth, Virginia Sunday, October 9th, 2011 to our first destination; Baltimore, Maryland. 

2010 Parade of Sail, Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Allen B. Graves.

Venture along with us once again as we cover all of the news and excitement of the GCBSR events and activities through daily reports and photos.  So bookmark and follow our blog - Schooner Racing on the Bay, as we prepare for the race and the excitement begins!

Schooners racing through high winds and heavy rain. GCBSR. Photo by Allen B. Graves

The race begins Thursday, October 13th, 2011 at noon just south of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge near Annapolis as a magnificent gathering of schooner-rigged vessels begin their adventure down the Chesapeake.

Jockeying for position at the beginning of the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race.
Make sure you stop by and see the schooner, Saturday, October 15, 2011 at the waterfront in Olde Towne Portsmouth, Virginia. For schedule of Schooner Days events, go to the official 2011 Schooner Days blog.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Your Hole In The Water: The Schooner Virginia Under Fire

The Schooner Virginia docked at Norfolk's Nauticus. Photo by Claire Trego Goodwin.
A recent article published by a Hampton Roads newspaper titled "Your hole in the water- Virginia taxpayers shouldn't be forced to support private causes, like a schooner"  is a blatant attack on the now docked "Schooner Virginia." This same newspaper that has published numerous positive articles about the famed schooner, has now decided to change its position. So I feel inclined to republish the article and the current rebuttal written by Captain Stefan Edick, Master of the "Schooner Virginia." The newspaper I understand will publish Captain Edick's response, but in a condensed version.  So here it is in its entirety. Please write us and leave your comments. We thank you for your support of the "Schooner Virginia." Let's get her under sail once again!

Editorial: Your hole in the water
Virginia taxpayers shouldn't be forced to support private causes, like a schooner
October 27, 2010

Tied up to a dock in Norfolk is a wooden-hulled, two-masted, schooner-rigged, 122-foot long reminder of the kind of dubious decisions that elected officials sometimes make when the public money is flowing.

And flow it did in Virginia. Between 1999 and 2009, the annual state budget doubled from $22 billion to $44 billion. When the flow was particularly strong, the General Assembly was generous in diverting some of it to private organizations.

At least $5 million (about half of it federal transportation dollars that came to the state) showered down on the Schooner Virginia.

Why, you might ask, when colleges are underfunded and bridge maintenance is being deferred — and they were, even in those good days — did legislators think that the best use of public money was for a replica of a boat harbor pilots used in 1906 to guide vessels into and out of Hampton Roads?

Why indeed?

The intent behind the schooner was to use it to teach sailing and seamanship, compete in races and generally preserve the memory of the state's long maritime heritage. It is a good idea, and the Virginia is an impressive sight under way.

But it's an idea that should be not just run but also funded by the private sector.

While young Virginians need to learn many things to prepare for life in the 21st century, how to trim sail on a schooner is not one of them. And while the stated purpose of promoting Virginia tourism and economic development sounds nice, how exactly does that work? Are corporate relocation decision-makers actually swayed by a floating "goodwill ambassador," as the project's backers like to call the Virginia?

Often the first stop on the fund-raising campaign for a private project is the General Assembly building. Many of its members enjoy winning friends by snagging some money — not theirs, of course, but taxpayers' — for a favorite cause back home.

So Virginians who did not choose to contribute to the Schooner Virginia project were compelled to contribute. Just as they were compelled to contribute to several churches, lots of arts groups, more than one railroad museum and many local social service programs serving specific communities.

Sometimes these legislative favors make sense, when the project delivers a meaningful service for Virginia and Virginians and there's a reasonable connection to the public realm. But that's a hard case to make for the Birthplace of Country Music Alliance.

To the Editor:
By Captain Stefan Edick
Master, Schooner Virginia

A ship that is dead in the water makes for an easy target, and so it is no surprise that the Editorial Board of the Daily Press has seized upon the recent news coverage of the schooner Virginia to weigh in on the subject of the public funding used in her construction and initial phase of operations. Hindsight is acute, as we all know, and in the current economic and political climate the temptation to criticize public expenditure for all but the most basic necessities is all but irresistible. To use the current context to evaluate past decisions, however, is to employ a faulty critical faculty.

In times of prosperity great governments have, throughout history, chosen to make expenditures from the public coffers for the public good. Such was the case with the schooner Virginia, which received but a tiny fraction of the nearly $200 million per year Non-State Agency funding allocated by the Commonwealth. The funds were disbursed to a wide variety of civic interests statewide, and while one can look at the list of projects and debate their individual merits, it is shortsighted and capricious to take the stance that each was the result of “legislative favors” rather than as investment in civic advancement.

When conceived and initiated, the schooner Virginia was heralded as an effort to build a monument to the region’s history and potential, and to employ her as a traveling representative of both Commonwealth and common good. Educational programming was to be a key part of her operations, and Virginia’s elected representatives at every level supported the project wholeheartedly, as did the Fourth Estate, including the Daily Press.
Thousands toured the Harbor Park shipyard while she was being built, including schoolchildren from across the region, many introduced for the first time to the fact that such a magnificent vessel could be crafted by hand in traditional fashion.

When launched, the ship was celebrated across the region. She was perceived as a graceful and powerful testament to the capabilities of Southeastern Virginia, and while she could easily have been named “Pride of” or “Spirit of”, as other comparable vessels have, her simple naming spoke only to an eloquent representation of all the citizens of the Commonwealth.

the "Schooner Virginia racing the "Pride of Baltimore II." Photo by Fred LeBlanc
The ship was launched with a two-part mission, that of ambassador vessel and educational platform, and the editorial is critical of each facet without being particularly well-informed. As ambassador of the Commonwealth and Hampton Roads, the ship has been viewed and visited by hundreds of thousands at Tall Ships and port festivals throughout the Atlantic Basin, and has appeared regularly in national, international, and regional publications, including numerous front page or cover stories. She is the subject of tens of thousands of images on the Internet and in galleries up and down the Atlantic coast. Throughout, she is seen as a proud example of the ‘brand’ of the Commonwealth of Virginia.  A common metric used to gauge the economic impact of advertising places the value of her appearances at approximately $1.5 million dollars per year. In port at home and abroad, she has hosted civic and corporate receptions, and in Hampton Roads she has been employed by a host of organizations like the Elizabeth River Project to help support their own causes. Did she influence any “corporate relocation decision-makers”?
The answer to that question is elusive, but the question misses the mark.

Students, once placed in the demanding environment of a traditional sailing vessel, learn much more than how to trim sail, as the editorial suggests. Rather, they are charged with real work and real responsibilities as shipmates engaged in a common purpose, and one need only speak to the participants or their parents to learn just how powerful a positive impact the experience can have on their self-esteem and in introducing a new found awareness of their capabilities.

As an educational platform, the ship has provided a challenging, success- driven learning environment for hundreds of adolescent students from all demographic groups, drawn from the communities of the region and beyond. Here again, the editorial displays a stunning lack of insight: “sail training” is a generic term applied to the practice of experiential learning aboard traditional ships, and while learning the mechanics of sail are part of the practice, the ship is the medium, and not the full extent of the message. Students, once placed in the demanding environment of a traditional sailing vessel, learn much more than how to trim sail, as the editorial suggests. Rather, they are charged with real work and real responsibilities as shipmates engaged in a common purpose, and one need only speak to the participants or their parents to learn just how powerful a positive impact the experience can have on their self-esteem and in introducing a new found awareness of their capabilities.

In addition to the challenges of the ship and seamanship, students were instructed in the maritime history of the region and the coast, the ecology of the Chesapeake and beyond, and in the beauty and wonder of the literature of the sea. Adult students in dedicated programs were given instruction in celestial navigation and passage making, tutelage under professional and accomplished instructors and crew members valuable to the safety and success of their own individual pursuits on the water.

There’s even been a notable occasion on which the two missions have been combined. In the Halifax Tall Ships Festival of last year, the ship trained its complement of adolescent trainees to act as ambassadors of the Commonwealth, and utilized them as docents for the thousands of visitors that toured the ship. Each was able to demonstrate pride of accomplishment and pride of place in an exercise unusual if not unique among sail training ships. Have any of the thousands of Canadian visitors to Virginia Beach this year been influenced by their contact with these proud boys and girls? Again, the answer is elusive, but the question misses the mark.

The schooner Virginia has been a prominent participant in the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race, organized annually to support the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s efforts to protect and support the waterway. Here she’s developed a fiercely competitive yet gracious and thoroughly sportsmanlike rivalry with Pride of Baltimore II, and one could suggest that the rivalry’s example by itself would be valuable to both citizens and politicians in these contentious times.

So why, then, is the ship tied up alongside the dock at Nauticus? Here the editorial offers some constructive criticism, though again the thrust of the argument is faulty.  While the Virginia Maritime Heritage Foundation can be criticized for some of its managerial and administrative decisions, the writer fails to consider that the organization was and has been engaged in the process of weaning itself from the public funding that got the project underway, as the last of the state funding allocated to the ship ended in fiscal year 2008. During the transition, however, the failing economy had a dramatic impact on the group’s traditional donor base, and private efforts fell well short of the revenue required to keep the ship going into 2010.

In the ten months since the ship has been idle, concerted efforts have been made by the Foundation’s Board of Directors to achieve a solution to the administrative shortcomings that have caused the hiatus, and much progress has been made. Numerous determined Board members and former staff have been serving as volunteers to watch over this proud asset in fair weather and foul, and to pursue the recruitment of the constituency the editorial identifies in support of future operations.  To these ends we have been both assisted and inspired by a corps of dedicated volunteers, who have shown unflagging support of the vision with which the ship was originally launched.

Since the beginning date of the project, one can count some fifty-six stories in the Daily Press which feature the schooner Virginia either wholly or in part.  Many of these stories and accompanying photographs appeared on the front page, whether of a dramatic and dramatically nautical marriage proposal during the Jamestown 400th celebration, or word of schooner Virginia’s record-breaking run down the Bay in the 2007 Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race.  In these fifty six articles, there’s nary a word of criticism about the validity of the project or of the use of public funding in support of what is portrayed throughout as a vital asset valuable to all of your readership.

With more limited government resources available now and in the future, the schooner Virginia clearly will need to build upon its natural constituency to support its operations, and with determined effort will no doubt do so, perhaps as early as next year. Operating a sailing ship is no easy task in the best of times, and these clearly are not the best of times. It’s a shame the Daily Press has chosen to change tacks and jump on the bandwagon of criticism of this fine vessel after your paper has provided so much support for its construction and achievements.


Captain Stefan Edick
Master, Schooner Virginia

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Schooner DOLPHIN Auction November 18th

Schooner DOLPHIN to be auctioned in New Haven, CT.
Schooner Dolphin will be sold at Auction on Thur Nov 18 at 10:30 am at the Federal Court, 141 Church St.New Haven, CT. The opening minimum bid will be $10,000 with a cash deposit to bid of just $1000 or 10% of the amount bid. When complete, the winning bidder will own the boat including her masts, sails, rigging and all equipment free and clear of all liens. The 90 foot, 100 ton, 1943 steel and wood staysail rigged schooner “Dolphin” has been completely rebuilt over the past 8 years. Structurally, the keel, stem, horn, frames, planks, decks and entire hull are better than new. She is almost ready to launch and sail for another 60+ years accommodating 15-25 people in seven staterooms with seven heads and three saloons.
You may view photos of the boat’s present condition at See the website for full history, plans and refit photos at

Unfortunately after investing $1.4 million in restoring the boat, the owners have run out of money and are unable to finish and launch her. The boat will be sold at auction to the highest bidder on Nov. 18.
Of course the boat is not finished and ready to go sailing, a lot more work needs to be done, but she could be
launched for under $50,000, be ready to motor and sail under her own power for perhaps $100,000, and if done economically offshore, the interior accommodations could be finished for a very reasonable amount. The new owner will end up with a million dollar large sailing ship for a fraction of the cost.

Schooner DOLPHIN refit plan.

Here are websites for two of her identical hull sister ships where you can see what she might look like when done and provide examples of the type of work and missions she could do. Dolphin would be an ideal platform for educational, marine conservation, zero carbon sail transport, adventure travel or luxury charter sailing voyages / / /

In case you know of any organization or individual who might have an interest in her, please let them know. If you know of any individual, group, foundation, angel or investor who might be interested in saving this big beautiful sailing ship, please email or call me on 1-203-246-1369 for more information.

This article was reprinted from the American Schooner Association website at.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

21st Annual Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race - A Retrospective by John Beauchamp

John Beauchamp aboard the schooner "Spirit of Independence."
With a budding interest in sailing and only a few days of training on a 2 person dingy sailboat, I took a leap of faith and signed on as passenger aboard the Spirit of Independence, stationed in Portsmouth, VA for the 21st annual Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race. My girlfriend, Esther Simpson, with even less experience, signed on to the voyage as well. We visited the boat’s home port twice before the race and were able to meet some of the crew that we eventually worked with on the race. We also had the opportunity to go through safety drills, learn about the rigging and quarters, and get a feel for the boat on the water. This helped build confidence in our decision as the Captain and crew demonstrated a thorough knowledge, a willingness to teach that knowledge, and patience with us through our learning curve. We also sensed the confidence each of them had in each other, the vessel, and even us. We felt very comfortable joining such a friendly and competent crew.
Schooner "Spirit of Independence" with the schooner "Lynx" during the 2010 "Parade of Sail" in Baltimore Maryland's inner harbor. Picture by Allen B. Graves
We boarded the Spirit, as we affectionately call her, in Fells Point, MD for our one way “race down the Chesapeake” to Portsmouth, VA. The weekend before the race, we dropped a car off in Portsmouth so we could have transportation back. We joined the Captain and crew in the early afternoon on Wednesday the 13th of October, 2010 where the boat was tied at dock with many other schooners taking part in the race. The schooners all took part in a “Parade of Sail” that evening, gliding and showing off in the Inner Harbor of Baltimore. We had a wonderful dinner that night for all of the participants, at the Latin Palace, listened in on the race meetings, and sang some “sea shanties” (with much help of course) at a local Fells Point pub, the Wharf Rat. We felt welcomed and a part of the crew.

Following a final race administration meeting the next morning with historic “Town Cryers”, we took our turn to pull out from the dock and make our way to the starting line of the race near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge close to Annapolis, MD. The weather had turned cloudy and it began to rain shortly before we left the dock. We helped hoist the sails and prep the boat for the race as we left toward the starting line. Captain JC Waters had maneuvered the Spirit so we were one of the first boats across the starting line. It was still raining with 5-10 knot winds out of the north (an estimate of my own). Just after a very good start the winds faded to calm and we sat almost motionless with the other boats in the race. With what wind we had directly behind us, we spread the main and foresail on either side of the boat in a wing-on-wing set to maximize the sail area catching what wind there was. This worked very well and we made our way south, slowly.

 Port view taken from the deck of the schooner "Spirit of Independence" during the beginning of the 21st Annual Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race. Photo by Allen B. Graves.
 Going below deck was not even considered at this point as watching the boats, breathing in the salty air, and enjoying the conversations of the rest of the crew was exquisite. The sun set beautifully as the rain faded to nothing. What a wonderful experience!!

"Spirit of Independence" ship's bell. Photo by Allen B. Graves
We learned the ringing of the bells to define the crew shifts. Esther and I had a dog shift from 12:00pm to 2:00pm, a normal shift from 4:00pm to 8:00pm, another from 12:00am to 4:00am, alternating every 4 hours throughout the race. Or at least that was the plan…

Esther and I had completed our 4:00pm to 8:00pm shift in light winds and moderate seas and felt part of an incredible experience with some great sailors and a wonderful boat. Knowing that we had to be up for the 12:00am to 4:00am shift I had a cup of wine (from a box we had brought aboard) and we went to our cabin and fell asleep. I truly slept solidly. We awoke at about 11:30 to lots of commotion, requests for eyes on deck, and a boat truly lurching in the water. We scrambled to put on our foul weather gear as we were knocked against the walls of our cabin. Lesson learned: Fasten down your foul weather gear around your neck, wrists, and ankles before you head out on deck. As we came on deck the Captain and other watch crew were wrapping up the topsail that we had set earlier in the day when the winds were calm. The seas were stormy with 10-12 foot swells (that is purely my own estimate), winds of 30 knots (again, mine), and salt spray and waves crashing onto the deck of Spirit. I took a position on deck to watch for other boats as we had come dangerously close to one while the crew was scrambling to keep the sails in order. We had learned later that Spirit had reached a new speed record for being under sail (11.2 knots); the auto pilot shut down not being able to calculate under those conditions; and the shift in course caused an unexpected jibe. The jibe of the staysail fouled the rigging of the jib. This series of events forced us to lower the staysail and jib in the rough seas and winds. Esther took over watch (on hands and knees) while I helped out with the sails. While the Spirit handled the pounding of the waves with ease, it was not so easy on the rest of us. In pitch black, boat lurching in every direction, waves pounding in on us, sails flailing in the wind, the Captain showed his metal. He helped and directed us how to lower the staysail, secure it and move on to the jib.

All of the crew was heroic in taking control of an extreme moment. We brought the sails under control, rerouted the Spirit toward the finish line, and sped on into the night.

Spirit crew tries to stay dry wearing foul weather gear. Photo by Allen B. Graves.
 My feet, chest, and shirt sleeves wet, we stayed our watch as the waves lessened to 6-8 feet (another estimate). The stars came out incredibly bright. Following a truly harrowing experience I felt exhausted yet renewed. This was one of those life affirming moments that make you understand what it is to truly participate in something great.

My shift ended sometime near 5:00 am. Wet, cold, and tired, I collapsed in our bunk and slept solidly again until the bell rang 6 times (7:00). I had my morning coffee and was on deck to watch the sun rise. A true beauty. 

We sailed across the finish line 20 hours 11 minutes after we started the race, more than a three hour improvement over Spirit’s time last year.

Once reaching Portsmouth we stayed through Sunday participating in the various events, dinners, and parties as were planned. We enjoyed sharing our stories of the race, talking with the other crews, and quiet calm nights aboard the Spirit of Independence.

On this trip we got much more than we bargained for. We gained a true appreciation for sailing and instead of making acquaintances aboard a sailing vessel; we made extraordinary friends with the family of the Spirit of Independence.

I was asked several times whether I would do the trip again. My response: "In a second."

My thanks to: J.C. Waters, Joy Waters, Jim Dyson, Allen Graves, Whitney Rayl, Faye Bailey, Peter Mulhern, Esther Simpson, and the Spirit of Independence.

John Beauchamp, passenger/crew/sailor

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Schooner Racing on the Bay - A Photographic Essay of the 21st Annual Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race

As I sit here at my computer this evening writing this blog, I can honestly state that as soon as we moored the Spirit of Independence after finishing the race, if we had just turned the boat around and retraced the entire trip, I would gladly do it again without hesitation. What a fun time with a great crew, incredible boat, excellent captains - JC and Joy - terrific sponsors, and volunteers to create and incredible racing experience.

And I could easily write a book of information about our schooner racing adventures, but I decided to create a photographic essay instead so that you can look over our shoulders and experience our adventure though the eyes of my camera. So first I would like to introduce you to the captains, crew and guest for this year's Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race (GCBSR). We will start and the end, go back to the beginning and come home again.

Jim Dyson, Whitney Rayl, Capt. Joy Waters, Peter Mulhern, Ester Simpson, John Beauchamp, Allen Graves, Faye Bailey, and Capt. JC Waters soon after finishing the race with our race banner signed by all.

On Thursday morning in Fells Point the day dawned gray, and while the capt. and most of the crew went to the meeting in the town's square, I had to go to a coffee shop called Bonaparte to use their internet. No sooner had I finished forwarding pictures to Joe Elder at Skipjack Nautical Wares than the heavens opened up and it started to rain. Having no rain gear for my camera and computer bag, I borrowed a few trash bags from a local coffee shop. Back at the boat at our appointed departure time of 9 am, I stored my gear, put on foul weather gear and by the time I was up on deck we were well underway.

Looking through the windows in the pilot house aboard the Spirit of Independence. Navigation station shows position, radar, depth and a view from the video camera looking toward the bow.
By the time we got below the Bay Bridge at Annapolis we began to set sail to be ready for the appointed start time of 13:40 hours.

Setting sails in preparation for the start.
Schooners soon after the start of the race.
Schooners after the start seen across the deck of the Spirit of Independence.
Soon after the start the wind died, we slowed and soon showed a speed of .1 knots. After about an hour, or so we were still within sight of the Bay Bridge near Annapolis.

South of the Bay Bridge after the race start, a moored commercial ship and schooners spread out across the bay.
Fortunately the wind picked up again and we sailed in rainy conditions with dark sky's and incredible views of other schooners in the race.

Schooners sailing in the rain.
Schooner seen across bow the Spirit of Independence.
By evening the sun came out and the wind was out of the north.

Sails rigged wing-on wing for a down wind run.
The Martha White illuminated with the evening sun.
Clearing skies and the deck of the Spirit of Independence.
Sunset and strategy session for the night.
Sunset Thursday evening with a lone schooner to the right
Sunsets bring out all the cameras and become an unannounced all-hands-on-deck.
Jim Dyson at the helm with the reflection of the sunset on the window glass.
Sunset Thursday evening.
After sunset Thursday evening we sailed into the night keeping watch and trimming sails. We set a new speed record, after midnight, for the Spirit of 11.2 knots. Dawn brought us close to our objective and the finish line at Thimble Shoal. Last year we completed the 127 nautical mile course in 23:44 hours. This year we shaved off some time and finished in 20:11. Not sure how the results will come out, but they will be announced later today and we should place well.

Spirit of Independence.
Traditional signing of the race banner just before the group picture at the top of this page.
Most of the schooners are moored here in Old Town Portsmouth where I am now writing this blog. Come on out this weekend for Schooner Days here in Olde Towne Portsmouth, Virginia and see these magnificent vessels for yourself. Some are open for tours and all are great for photographs. The Schooner Virginia is unfortunately moored in Norfolk.

Fair Winds,
Allen B. Graves

All photographs were taken by Allen B. Graves.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race! Pictures at Dusk From the Deck of the schooner "Spirit of Independence."

The "Spirit of Independence" Wing on wing down wind.
 6:45 P.M.- Received pictures via cellphone from the schooner "Spirit of Independence" who is doing well in this years race. It seems that most of the classes are within a close distance from one another.

8:30 P.M.- Just check the Kattrack satellite system and the "Spirit" is in third place of Class B, just slightly moving in front of the schooner "Martha White" with "Dove II" in second and the "Sally B" well in front. All four schooners are now averaging close to 8 knots. 

You can keep up with the race via Kattrack satellite by going to the link provided by the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race.

Schooner "Mystic whaler" to stern.  

Sunset and "Mystic Whaler"
Sunset on the bay.