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The Maryland Dove Sails Home

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After 5 years of planning and nearly three years of construction by the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland, the all-new Maryland Dove has sailed to its permanent home in historic St. Mary’s City, Maryland. Arriving on August 27, 2022, surrounded by a fleet of recreational and commercial vessels, it replaces the first reproduction of the 17th-century ship built in Cambridge, Maryland, in 1978 and which is being retired because of her age and condition.

The 40-ton ship—with an overall length of 84 feet, length-on-deck of 57 feet and a beam of 17 feet—more accurately represents the original Dove that sailed into the Chesapeake Bay from England in 1633 along with her larger companion ship, the Ark. The Dove was the ideal size for early colonists to explore the Atlantic Seacoast, serving as a coastal freighter sailing between the Chesapeake Bay and New England.

After reviewing proposals from shipyards along the East Coast, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum was awarded the contract to build the new Dove. “Historic St. Mary’s City and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum are natural partners in this project,” said Regina Faden, executive director at HSMC. “It fulfills both our missions of telling the story of early Maryland.”

Indeed, CBMM has a rich history of preserving our country’s maritime past. The museum’s boatyard proudly maintains one of the area’s largest collections of historic Chesapeake Bay watercraft including skipjacks, crab dredgers, buy-boats, log canoes and crabbing skiffs. To ensure the Dove’s historical accuracy, members of the museum’s shipbuilding crew traveled to the Vasa Museum in Stockholm to examine the well-preserved, 17th-century warship that shared many of the construction methods with British and Dutch ships of that period. And to better understand how to authentically rig the new Dove, the museum’s head rigger studied a number of 17th-century Dutch paintings that revealed many of the intricate details used in those days.

The museum’s boatyard staff consisted of a number of experienced shipwrights, as well as a rotating crew of young men and women enrolled in the museum’s 2-year apprentice program.

Owned by the state of Maryland and operated by the Historic St. Mary’s City Commission, Dove will serve as a floating ambassador and major tourist attraction for this historic city that was Maryland’s first capital.
—George Sass

This article was originally published in the November 2022 issue.

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