Whitecaps whip the Schooner Rendezvous

Dorchester Banner/Bob Zimberoff A member of schooner Sultana’s crew, Shannon Denno, helps, from left, Cailyn Stahl, almost 6, Finley Stahl, 3, and Charlotte Weeks, 6, fold a reproduction of a historic U.S. flag during the Schooner Rendezvous hosted by Richardson Maritime Museum at Long Wharf Park. The Stahls were visiting from La Plata and Charlotte was visiting with her grandmother, Jane Weeks, of Cambridge and Baltimore.

Dorchester Banner/Bob Zimberoff
A member of schooner Sultana’s crew, Shannon Denno, helps, from left, Cailyn Stahl, almost 6, Finley Stahl, 3, and Charlotte Weeks, 6, fold a reproduction of a historic U.S. flag during the Schooner Rendezvous hosted by Richardson Maritime Museum at Long Wharf Park. The Stahls were visiting from La Plata and Charlotte was visiting with her grandmother, Jane Weeks, of Cambridge and Baltimore.

CAMBRIDGE — The wind-driven whitecaps could not drive away the boats and the folks who chose to be part of the Schooner Rendezvous this weekend. The Sultana, a replica of a British tax-enforcing schooner in colonial days, showed up in its modern role of floating classroom. Besides looking stately and adding charm, its main function is to engage young people in maritime history and ecology. Today a few children learned why the Chesapeake Crab is blue on top and white on the bottom. Adults can look it up. This reporter learned about a small fish in the bay called a “puffer,” which can inflate its belly like some people can inflate their sense of importance. It’s cute and curious in a fish.

Also riding the waves in the harbor was the jolly boat Vigilant, the smallest type of service launch for bigger ships. She belongs to the Vigilant Crew, a group of re-enactors in full and authentic costumes. Joe Abernethy also belongs to the Vigilant Crew and says the Vigilant Crew does more than add “olden-day atmosphere.” For members of the Vigilant Crew, it’s a modern hobby that appeals to their love of history and sharing it with children. Joe says, “We pitch our encampment and invite the interest of children in our colonial skills and trades, even pirates. “The Vigilant Crew battles no armies, but the group did lose an encounter with a tornado in Hampton, Virginia,” Joe explains, “All our tents were destroyed, except for one.” They depend on their tents for displays and demonstrations, and very importantly, to sleep in the encampment.

Roger Worthington is the commodore responsible for starting the tradition that is now the eleventh Schooner Rendezvous. His goal, then as now, is to preserve and protect the maritime skills and history of the Chesapeake Bay. Children of course are the focus of a lot of the rendezvous activities, visiting the boats, asking questions, learning, and learning to care.

Roger’s skills are many. He fixes cars, he fixes roofs, he fixes attitudes. “Children are inquisitive and we have to guide them. Take swimming,” he continues, “I took a poll of the children who sailed on the schooner and asked how many knew how to swim. Most did not. Perhaps parents are afraid of the risk, and want to protect them. The result is that parental guidance can keep a child from learning.” One fearful boy on Roger’s boat admitted he was afraid. But Roger Worthington says after the boy’s experience on the boat, his attitude had changed and he left no longer afraid to become acquainted with the waters that surround his home.

A generous buffet was spread at an evening reception on Friday night at the Richardson Maritime Museum for captains, commodores and crews. In the rooms that are chock full of mariners’ tools and boatbuilding equipment, the tables were laden with donations from our local restaurants for the visitors. Even non-sailors could get lost in the historic artifacts of Jim Richardson, Cambridge’s master boat builder—and the fried oysters too.

The party included not “The Flying Dutchman,” the doomed ship of sea legend, but “A Sailing Dutchman,” by the name of Paul Bosch. He and his wife, Herma, left the Netherlands two and a half years ago aboard the Lena, and sailed past England, France, Spain, and Portugal, then in and out of the Mediterranean and its colorful islands, and down the coast of Africa. Then they sailed due west, across the Atlantic, into the Chesapeake. They never hit rough weather till they happened by a lucky accident to enter the harbor of Cambridge. Totally unplanned, totally wonderful; still, here’s where they finally hit rough weather.

The schooner sailors say they “Shanghaied” the couple, that term referring to kidnapping sailors to join them to complete a crew. “It was actually a very lucky accident,” laughs Paul Bosch. “They have included us in parties, and helped us find docking and made us feel at home.” Herma adds,”We have been to so many places in the world but no place has been as friendly as Cambridge.”

Imagine, the Bosches left the Netherlands, sailed around two continents and crossed an ocean to find the warm welcome here in Cambridge. I think we can puff up with pride like that small fish in the Bay.

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