After being laid up for 19 months because of the Covid-19 crisis, the Sultana Education Foundation’s flagship schooner SULTANA is preparing for a triumphant return to the Chesapeake Bay for her 20th anniversary season. “Operating a school-ship like SULTANA was simply impossible in 2020,” said SEF President Drew McMullen, “but with the Covid situation improving, vaccines available for our crew, and schools reaching out to sail this fall, the time has come to get SULTANA back out on the water.”
Getting the 1768 reproduction SULTANA sailing again will take the better part of this coming summer. SULTANA’s volunteer corps will start the process in early June by removing the long term protective cover that has been on the schooner since last summer. The schooner’s crew will arrive in Chestertown a few weeks later and immediately depart for the Georgetown Yacht Basin where SULTANA will be hauled, cleaned and repainted. The schooner will return to Chestertown by August where the schooner’s crew and volunteer corps will re-rig the vessel and train in preparation for resuming under-sail operations by the second half of August.
“This will be the first time we have rigged SULTANA during the summer,” said Sultana Vice President Chris Cerino. “It’s a complex and amazing process and we are going to make a big effort to make it accessible to the public.”
New Captain no stranger to SULTANA
Newly appointed Captain Forrest Richards will oversee the process of rerigging SULTANA. A long-time resident of Chestertown, Richards is no stranger to the Sultana Education Foundation, where he previously worked as both crew and Mate on SULTANA, as well as a member of the 12-person expedition that reenacted Captain John Smith’s 121-day, 2,100-mile 1608 Chesapeake expedition in 2007.
“I’m excited to be back on Sultana,” said Richards, “and honored to be captaining her 20th anniversary sailing season.”
Most of SULTANA’s crew has been hired for the 2021 season, but two available deckhand positions remain. Interested candidates should visit the foundation’s website, www.sultanaeducation.org, for details.
Downrigging Returns to Celebrate Anniversary
SULTANA’S 2021 sailing season will be the 20th since the vessel’s launch on March 24, 2001. The anniversary celebration of SULTANA’s launch originally planned for March will now take place as part of the Foundation’s annual Downrigging Weekend, scheduled for October 29-31 in Chestertown. The Foundation recently received preliminary approval from the Town of Chestertown to host this event and details for the three day Tall-Ship and bluegrass festival will be announced in June.