4th Annual Tall Ships Festival June 13-14



When tall ships again call on Cape Charles this weekend (June 13-14),  visitors will have the opportunity to board these historic vessels at the dock and talk to the crew about a sailor’s life in the modern world. There will also be plenty of music and entertainment on the festival grounds surrounding Cape Charles Harbor, including black powder demonstrations, pirate school classes, and live bands. A festival marketplace will showcase food vendors, vendor booths, and exhibitors.

Each tall ship has its own educational program and mission, providing festival-goers with a wide variety of vessels to learn about and explore.

The 179’ barque Picton Castle is a traditionally rigged and operated sail training ship based in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, but best known for her voyages around the world. The tall ship has just returned from her sixth circumnavigation of the globe and her crew looks forward to sharing stories and mementos from their travels. Picton Castle is a training ship, meaning all those on board work, stand watch, and learn the ways of a square-rigged sailing ship. Onboard workshops are conducted in rigging, sail making, boat handling, navigation and practical seamanship.



America’s Privateer Lynx is a 122’ square topsail schooner designed and built to interpret the general configuration and operation of a privateer schooner or naval schooner from the War of 1812. Lynx sails as a living history museum, and crew members wear period uniforms and operate the ship in keeping with the maritime traditions of early 19th century America. Lynx also operates as a sail training vessel to serve as a classroom for the study of historical, environmental, and ecological issues.

The 91’ gaff rigged schooner Tree of Life, launched in 1991, is built of fir planking, fiberglass, and Kevlar saturated in epoxy, making for a beautiful yet durable vessel that has sailed around the world. From her fir deck and teak interior to her voyage to the South Pacific for the America’s Cup and on to the Caribbean for Classic Race Week, Tree of Life represents the unique histories and designs of every tall ship. Based in Newport Harbor, she now sails throughout New England waters with a small crew and trainees.

The 81.5’ gaff rigged schooner Hindu was built in Boothbay, Maine, in 1925. Hindu sailed to India as a spice trader (1938), patrolled the eastern seaboard for U-Boats during World War II, and helped to pioneer the whale-watching industry as a charter vessel in Provincetown (since 1946). By the turn of the 21st century, she had fallen into disrepair and was facing demolition. Hindu was rebuilt by Kevin “Foggy” Foley in 2006 and moved to her current homeport of Key West, Florida. In 2012, William Rowan purchased the schooner and, over a 14 month period, restored her with the help of more than 50 friends and family. Hindu invites the public out for daily sails off of Cape Cod in the summer and out of Key West in the winter.

Serenity’s homeport is Yorktown, where she offers pirate cruises and private charters to the public. Built in 1986 as a cargo schooner, she was purchased by Greg and Laura Lohse of Low Sea Company in 2000. They brought her to Cape Charles and began offering sailboat cruises on the Chesapeake Bay. With the success of their daysail business and the 2005 addition of Alliance to the fleet, the Lohses moved their vessels to Riverwalk Landing Pier in nearby Yorktown and established Yorktown Sailing Charters. Today, they partner with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and the Yorktown Watermen’s Museum to increase public awareness of the Chesapeake Bay through a variety of educational cruises on the York River.

While the other vessels are open for dockside tours, Serenity will offer Pirate Mayhem Cruises at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Visitors with advance reservations will have the opportunity to set sail aboard the 65’ schooner Serenity for a 90-minute adventure sail. Young pirates are encouraged to haul on lines, learn to steer, and get nautical tattoos alongside the costumed crew. Tickets for the Pirate Mayhem Cruises can be purchased in advance at http://www.zerve.com/SailYorktown/CCPirate and may sell out. Tickets are $35 with reduced rates for children.

In the evenings, Lynx, Hindu, and Tree of Life will offer public sails. Sail Away Cruises aboard Lynx will be held from 5-7 p.m. from June 10-13. Tickets can be purchased in advance at http://www.showclix.com/events/20061# and are $55 for adults and $25 for children. Sunset Sails aboard Hindu and Tree of Life can be reserved dockside during the festival.

From Cape Charles, select vessels from the Tall Ships Challenge Atlantic Coast 2015 Fleet will race up the Chesapeake Bay. “Students and trainees will sail the ships the same way they were sailed in great Age of Sail,” explains Tall Ships America Executive Director Bert Rogers.  “These races follow long distance courses — the ships sail without using engines, all to promote goodwill through friendly competition.”

The tall ships will also visit Philadelphia, PA/Camden, NJ on June 25-28; Greenport, NY on July 4-7; and Portland, ME on July 18-20.



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