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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The "H.M.S. Sultana At Dock" Story

The H.M.S. Sultana.  This photo and the 3 that accompany
my story came from the Sultana website.  I could find no
names to give credit to for the photographs.
It was an ordinary day.  Standing in front of one huge ship, looking up at the rigging on the two masts.  The H.M.S. Sultana is docked along the waterfront in Chestertown, MD.  It is an authentic replica of His Majesty's Schooner Sultana, hence the initials in front of the ship's name.  It was launched in Chestertown on March 24, 2001 and now serves as an educational vessel as it travels the Chesapeake Bay. The original H.M.S. Sultana, built in Boston, was a Royal Navy schooner that patrolled the American coast from 1767 through 1772 where it collected duties and chased smugglers.  
George Washington sailed and dined many times on the ship while she patrolled for smugglers.  The ship was retired before the American Revolution, since the ship wasn't large enough or armed heavily enough to do battle in the war.  Her original purchase was to enforce the Townshend Acts along the coast from Rhode Island to North Carolina, traveling the Chesapeake during that time.  She eventually was sold at auction.  The replica in was built under the direction of Master Shipwright John Swain, four other professional shipwrights and over 100 volunteers.  
Shipwright working on the hull of the ship.
She was built with both traditional and modern tools and techniques.  The replica is not an exact recon- struction, since it carries a diesel engine which is regulated by the U.S. Coast Guard.  Other new additions now seen in the original ship were a modern bathroom and galley, modern electronics and navigation equipment and synthetic rigging materials.  The original Sultana had no engine.  After 2 1/2 years from her beginnings on October 25, 1998 when the keel was laid, the Sultana was hauled through the streets of Chestertown March 23 and launched the following day, while 10,000 spectators watched, in the Chester River  with the assistance of the U.S. Army Reserve's Transportation Company based in Baltimore.  
Maneuvering the streets of Chestertown on March 23, 2001.
It then took two more months to rig the ship before it was commis- sioned on July 4, 2001.  How fitting a date!  A few blocks from where I am standing looking at this grand ship is the Sultana Center which is where many of the original documents, such as the original log which details the trials and travels along the east coast, are now housed.  This version of the Sultana sails the waters of the Chesapeake Bay from April to November, providing educational programs for over 5000 students each year.  You can also take boatbuilding courses at the Schooner Sultana Shipyard in Chestertown.  I must admit that I have seen the ship many times, but have never boarded her or sailed the Chesapeake on her.  Some time I'll be in town when they are offering rides on the ship and sail the Chester River to the Chesapeake Bay.  But, today I get to stand alone, next to the huge ship, pointing my camera at her as she sits in her glory, tied with mooring lines to the dock.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  PS - The following photos I took while standing next to the H.M.S. Sultana.











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