Tall Ships and More


The tall ships crowding the Chestertown landing included in addition to the Sultana, the Kalmar Nyckel, Lady Maryland, Pride of Baltimore and A.J. Meerwald

Saturday, Downrigging 2017 was as near a perfect day as you could order up – clear skies, a nice breeze, and happy crowds in Chestertown to view the tall ships. In addition to the host, schooner Sultana, they had the opportunity to board – and if they were among those canny enough to get tickets in advance, to sail on – Kalmar Nykel, Lady Maryland, the Pride of Baltimore, and the A.J. Meerwald. The Chester River Packet was also doing a brisk business taking festival-goers out to see the river and the tall ships.

Smaller ships representing all kinds of craft were also on display at the docks.

But there was much more to be seen and enjoyed at Downrigging. A fine selection of smaller boats was available for inspection along the docks, including shipwright John Swain’s E.E. Moore, a Chesapeake Bay sharpie, and Pathfinder, a 1926 Elco cruiser that once belonged to a member of the Dupont family. Along the foot of High Street, a small flotilla of wooden speedboats vied for attention with an array of classic cars, including several vintage Ferraris. And just for variety’s sake, a group of cyclists came to the festival on their old-style “penny-farthing” two-wheelers.

Wooden boats were on display on their trailers – brought by their proud owners from all corners of the East Coast.

A couple dozen or more classic cars were parked on High Street by the town dock.

Downrigging is multidimensional – if you wanted to step into the Sultana Educational Center, you could enjoy a display of boat models, a booth by Tales and Scales with two live owls and a kestrel hawk, an art exhibit by Marc Castelli showing the building of Sultana, and kids’ activities. The Massoni Art gallery on High Street had another Castelli exhibit, “Swinging the Lantern,” with striking images of watermen at work.

There was music, too – a tent behind the Fish Whistle restaurant had a variety of local bands in rotation all day long, with food and drink available for audience members. Among the attractions were the High and Wides, Dovetail, the Lions of Bluegrass and the Chestertown Ukulele Club. At the High Street pier, WCTR had a booth set up with recorded music – and prizes for one and all.

The Lions of Bluegrass

Saturday night, the Pam Ortiz Band took the stage at Garfield Center, offering a selection of songs with nautical themes. Elsewhere in town, there were plenty of private parties for those inclined to stretch the celebration into the evening hours.

Sunday, the rains came – but Saturday was more than enough to make Sultana’s annual celebration a resounding success. If you missed it for some reason, don’t worry – there’s always next year!

Penny-farthings. big-wheel bicycles from the era of tall ships, were also at Downrigging.

Pirates and the Jolly Roger entertained all.

Boat models on display

The Downrigging Fleet at Dawn, previous year – photo by Chris Cerino

Stern of Sultana

Schooner Sultana under sail

Kalmar Nyckel figurehead

























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