Schooners: ‘Come up the bay and hang a right’

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Dorchester Banner/David Harp
Famous schooners like the Mystic Whaler (above), Pride of Baltimore, the Lady Maryland, and a dozen others will be sailing into Cambridge’s deep water harbor at Long Wharf for the Rendezvous.

CAMBRIDGE — The 10th Schooner Rendezvous is less than six weeks of anticipation away, but the detailed preparations for the arrival of the tall ships began a year ago and is now moving full sail ahead. It is no small feat for the staff and volunteers of the Richardson Museum to host more than a dozen of the world’s most famous schooners for three days.

On Arrival Day, Oct. 23, the tall ships will have just completed the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race and have followed the directions “come up the bay and hang a right.” That brings famous schooners like the Pride of Baltimore, the Mystic Whaler, the Lady Maryland, and a dozen others into Cambridge’s deep water harbor at Long Wharf. It’s a privilege for the City of Cambridge to host these stately, beautiful boats, but it’s a massive responsibility too.

The City of Cambridge, the Richardson Museum, and the American Schooner Association are the sponsors who make the yearly visit possible, and a host of volunteers are the minions who get the job done. Crews totaling a 100 people must be fed, feted, and kept safe; and the visiting public, which adds hundreds more, must also be cared for and entertained.

The main educational entertainment is on Friday, when 200 schoolchildren will board the schooners and learn some basic information about them. Weather permitting, they will also enjoy a day sail. Some Cambridge children, who have never been on any boat, will get this unique opportunity. But on the other two days, you, the public, are invited to board and get a feel for what was the normal activity in the historic harbor when Cambridge was a busy maritime stop. Docking here will be the Jolly Dolphin, designed and built by Captain Jim Richardson of Cambridge. The famous boatbuilder lends his name to the Richardson Museum with its masssive and fascinating maritime collection

The volunteers and staff must coordinate the children’s visit with both public and private schools. In other years, children reportedly have been transfixed, and in one case, transformed by the experience. Staff and volunteers are working out arrangements for the cocktail party for the captains and crews hosted by the Board of the Richardson. The there’s the behind-the-scenes work of signing up local musicians for the planned entertainment, they have to sign and assign the vendors, they have to work out security for the hundred crewmen and captains. And raising money for all of it. (Our job is easy — we just have to go and visit.)

The Schooner Rendezvous is the brainchild of Roger Worthington, captain of the schooner Prom Queen, who participates in the Great Chesapeake Bay Race and invited his fellow boatmen to enjoy a stop in Cambridge. The 10-year tradition is now something for all Cambridge to enjoy.

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