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Godspeed replica

Square-rig replica to tour Northeast.

Godspeed will make stops in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and Newport

Square-rig replica to tour Northeast

Godspeed will make stops in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and Newport

A replica of Godspeed, one of three vessels that sailed from England in 1607 to found what became the Jamestown colony in Virginia, was launched this spring at Maine’s Rockport Marine Park. The ship will be part of a tour this summer celebrating what its owners call “America’s 400th anniversary.”

“I was really struck when I saw her in the water for the first time. She looks very similar to some of the historic [renderings] we looked at that are from the same time period,” says Eric Speth, maritime program manager for the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation in Virginia, the state agency that administers the Jamestown Settlement and owns the replica of Godspeed. “Our visitors will be interested in seeing this boat as we sail her to various ports this summer.”

In April Speth and other members of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation sailed Godspeed from Maine to the foundation in Williamsburg, Va. Beginning in early May they will tour Godspeed north along the coast, making stops at Alexandria, Va.; Baltimore; Philadelphia; New York; Boston; and Newport, R.I. At each port foundation members will host a “Landing Party” that will include shoreside cultural displays, historical exhibits, live performances and hands-on tours of the ship. Visitors can help raise the sails, handle navigational equipment and learn about life aboard a 17th-century vessel.

“We will share with our visitors the history of the founding of Virginia,” Speth says. “This is where the foundation of what became the United States was laid.”

Godspeed was designed by Tri-Coastal Marine, of Richmond, Calif., and was built by custom-boat builders Rockport Marine of Rockport, Maine. The vessel’s design is based on research of ships of that era and the documented tonnage of the original Godspeed.

“We examined some boatbuilding methods from the 17th century, most notably [Isaac] Newton’s method,” explains Andrew Davis, president of Tri-Coastal Marine. “We used the geometric rules to design this carvel-planked vessel. Although the method is really for larger vessels like galleons, we tweaked it a little to come up with a design we thought was historically accurate.”

It took the folks at Rockport Marine about 18 months to construct the 88-foot square-rigged Godspeed. The boat was made using mostly angelique, silverballi and wana woods. “It’s warm in Jamestown and some wooden boats don’t hold up in the hot, humid conditions and brackish waters,” explains Rockport Marine’s John England, project manager for the Godspeed project. “We picked these woods because they are rot resistant and will hold up well in those conditions.”

There are also some modern amenities aboard Godspeed. “She has a pair of 115-hp diesel inboards, a generator, GPS, VHF, radar, navigation lights, has running water, a shower and a head,” England says. “She also has more standing headroom below.”

Once the tour wraps up in late July, Speth and his crew will return Godspeed to the Jamestown Settlement, where she will be on display. The Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation also owns replicas of Discovery and the Susan Constant, the other two boats that joined Godspeed in 1607. A new replica of Discovery is being built at Boothbay Harbor (Maine) Shipyard.

Speth says he is hopeful that people up and down the coast will turn out for Godspeed’s summer tour.

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