Hail the Tall Ships … this weekend!

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Members of the Vigilant Crew re-enactors will be on hand for the Schooner Rendezvous this weekend.

CAMBRIDGE — You might have seen one of the stately tall ships and schooners sailing into Long Wharf this week. The schooners have just finished the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race from Baltimore to Portsmouth, Va., a distance of 127 nautical miles. The event raises thousands of dollars for educational programs to save the bay. Now some of those tall ships and schooners are arriving in Cambridge to mark the 10th Annual Schooner Rendezvous, a get-together of crews and majestic boats to celebrate the maritime heritage and history of Dorchester County.

The educational program begins today with a hundred Dorchester County school children climbing aboard the Mystic Whaler. Out of New London, Conn., this 110 feet long schooner, with a mast that rises 90 feet, and has 3,000 square feet of sail, traditionally carries passengers, scouts, and trainees in educational programs. Capt. John Eginton will welcome our young students to experience the adventure of a schooner sail and learn about its workings. On Saturday and Sunday, the public is invited to board the schooners, starting at 10 a.m. You might even take a trip on a schooner.

You might also take a trip into the past. The Vigilant Crew returns to Cambridge to set up its encampment at Long Wharf and teach about naval history: what trades did a sailor have to know, be he merchant or pirate, what weapons and tactics did they have to learn, what is seamanship and navigation on the high seas, and how did they preserve and prepare “a square meal” on board. The origin of the term “square meal” according to some comes from the use of a square platter in the Royal Navy, but other sources debunk that and claim the term is American from the nineteenth century. (Just thought you’d like to know. Maybe not.)

Duncan Robbins, who heads the Vigilant Crew, says. “I’m involved because I love history the life skills in historic times, and I also love teaching.” He’s chosen a vivid way to do both … in costume and with old and historic props. The Vigilant Crew, a dozen men and women, invite you to their encampment to learn about naval history and heritage.

Another participating group celebrates those creatures that have been in the Chesapeake Bay area longer than people, the oysters, crabs, and other wildlife. From the Philips Wharf Environmental Center in Tilghman Island comes “The Fishmobile” with its 13 aquariums with turtles, fish, crabs , and oysters, all from Chesapeake’s waters. General Manager Kayla Fairfield says, “Young children can visit the “ touch” exhibits and hold a diamondback terrapin or horseshoe crab. “What kind of feet do they have? What do their skins and shells feel like?”

Adults also wanting a hands-on experience can grab a crabcake from a vendor and find out “ “what does this crabcake taste like?” Many vendors provide food and shopping experiences. So much to see and do, but if this weekend all you experience is the close up magic of a majestic tall ship under sail, you get an unforgettable taste of history and heritage.

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