Downrigging Weekend

Downrigging Weekend
Chestertown Historic District, MD

Chestertown Historic District, MD

October 30, 2009

It was a fairly short drive from Wilmington to Chestertown where my cousin Virginia, her husband Steve and father Alfred live and where we will lay our heads for the next few days. Our visit coincides with “Downrigging Weekend” and festivities that include tall ship sails on the Chester River, artist studio tours in and around Chestertown, boat building demonstrations and of course, fireworks.

It is wonderful to see Virginia and Alfred again. We have not seen my uncle Alfred for about six years and at 95 years old he looks fantastic due in no small part to Virginia and Steve’s tender care. We settle in while Alfred and Virginia have lunch, Steve is still in Boston. After lunch Virginia gives takes us a short distance from town along a possible bicycle route for Sunday morning, time and weather permitting. The countryside is a patchwork of soybean, corn and winter wheat fields, muted colors of fall and the Chester River, a pastoral landscape dotted with farm houses and stately old homes.

Virginia leaves us in town and we wander down to the docks where some of the tall ships are moored and others already sailing. We are booked to sail on the Lady Maryland Sunday morning but cannot find her at her dock so we walk home.

After a delicious dinner, George and I walk back to the town docks to view the tall ships with their rigging highlighted by strings of lights and the sky lighted by fireworks.

We had hoped to get some photos but it was too crowded to set up a tripod and we discovered the crowding was caused by folks huddling on the boardwalk because the parking lot near the docks was underwater – high tide, very high tide.

October 31, 2009
After breakfast we walked to Chestertown’s Farmer’s Market for fresh baked goods and produce. The market continues through November and still has plenty of cold weather crops, broccoli, cauliflower, greens of all kinds, brussel sprouts and even tomatoes but the best table was filled with fresh baked pies and we succumbed to temptation bringing home ½ of a coconut cream, a black raspberry and a French Apple pie – YUM!

Steve and Virginia took us on a tour of artist studios participating in the weekend festivities. The first stop was at the home and workshop of an extraordinary furniture craftsman, Vicco vonVoss. We were greeted on arrival by a tom turkey who strutted about like he owned the place. Bob McBride his workshop would have you drooling as it is loaded with equipment and rare, exotic hardwood awaiting his skillful hands. His home is a work in progress, we were able to view the completed main section and it is a work of art. Some photos of the house can be seen in the link below. php/cl/home_garden_article/hg_tree_hous e_so07/

Onward through the afternoon we viewed paintings, photography, textiles and pottery by true craftsmen and craftswomen. A very impressive artistic community surrounds Chestertown.

November 1, 2009

Today is the day for our sailing experience on the tall ship Lady Maryland. We left for the docks early to make a stop at the home of Shirley Hampton Hunt a photographer. She is one of Steve and Virginia’s favorites and having seen some of her work we were excited to see more.

Ms. Hunt has spent the last few years working on “The Vanishing Landscape”, photographing houses, waterways and boats that make up the fabric of life in the Chesapeake Bay and represent an endangered way of life; it is a beautiful book and we found her quite delightful. After mentioning that we were visiting my cousin, whose name she recognized, she was kind enough to take us into her workshop and through her home to see some of her own art collection, a very modern collection that worked well in her very traditional Georgian home. We were sorry that we did not have more time to spend with her but our boat was waiting, or so we thought.

When we arrived at the dock, the good Lady Maryland was sitting on the bottom because of low tide, a very low tide. Luck was with us and we were placed on the Sultana. The Sultana is a recreation of schooner built in Boston in the 1700’s and sold to the British who used it for customs enforcement in the pre-revolutionary days. A near exact replica of the original Sultana was constructed in Chestertown by a handful of master boat builders and hundreds of volunteers including Steve. She is the pride of the community and is used primarily for ecological teaching programs for children. Our short voyage in the rain with a small squadron of handmade ships and boats of all descriptions was grand and we loved every moment aboard this beautiful sailing vessel.

While we were out playing Steve and Virginia were hard at work making preparations for a fabulous Wild Goose dinner, a new taste treat.


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