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Newest tall ship to visit NYC and Newport

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Despite a steady rain, 100 friends, family and staffmembers at the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation in Williamsburg, Va., greeted the recently launched replica of Godspeed on May 7 as it cruised into its new homeport at the Jamestown Settlement.

Despite a steady rain, 100 friends, family and staffmembers at the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation in Williamsburg, Va., greeted the recently launched replica of Godspeed on May 7 as it cruised into its new homeport at the Jamestown Settlement.

The 88-foot square-rigged vessel, a replica of one of three vessels that sailed from England in 1607 to found what became the Jamestown colony, won’t spend much time this summer in Virginia, though. The ship will be part of a tour celebrating what foundation members call “America’s 400th Anniversary.”

Foundation members will use Godspeed to “share with our visitors the history of the founding of Virginia,” says Eric Speth, maritime program manager for the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, the state agency that administers the Jamestown Settlement and owns the replica of Godspeed. “This is where the foundation of what became the United States was laid.”

Beginning May 27 Speth and his crew will tour Godspeed north along the East Coast, making stops at Alexandria, Va. (until June 3); Baltimore (June 9 to 12); Philadelphia (June 16 to 19); New York (June 27 to July 6); Boston (July 14 to 19); and Newport, R.I. (July 25 to 30).

At each port foundation members will host a “Landing Party” that will include shore-based cultural displays, historical exhibits, live performances and tours of the ship. Visitors will be able to help raise the sails, handle navigational equipment and learn about life aboard a centuries-old vessel.

Godspeed was designed by Tri-Coastal Marine of Richmond, Calif., and was built by custom boatbuilders Rockport Marine of Rockport, Maine. The vessel’s design is based on research of 17th-century ships and the documented tonnage of the original Godspeed. “We examined some boatbuilding methods from the 17th century,” 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 vessel. 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 for when visitors are on board.”

Once the America’s 400th Anniversary tour wraps up, 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 and is expected to be delivered in early 2007.

Speth is hopeful that people up and down the coast will turn out for Godspeed’s summer tour. “People can visit us in their own backyards and learn more about Virginia,” he says.

For information visit www.jamestown2007.org