The shallop that re-enacted Capt. John Smith's 1608 travels on the Chesapeake Bay will enjoy a more restful summer this year without straying far from the public eye.

"The shallop will continue to travel the Bay with a new crew of volunteers, telling the story of the John Smith voyage and the Bay 400 years ago, and introducing the John Smith water trail," said Drew McMullen, president of Sultana Projects.

Sultana Projects built the recreated shallop and organized its 2007 tour of the Bay. A crew of 12 spent 120 days sailing the small open vessel to more than 20 ports of call to commemorate Smith's exploration of the Bay and draw attention to the region's human and environmental history.

The shallop will continue to appear at special events, but will also enjoy longer stays at exhibits and interpretive centers and help to promote the emerging Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Water Trail.

Two ways to learn more about the shallop are approaching fast.

On April 25, the shallop debuts in a documentary film that will air as part of Chesapeake Bay Week on Maryland Public Television. On May 3, a three-way race pits the Sultana shallop against two of its cousins in a competition for the Captain John Smith Cup, as part of the Maryland Maritime Heritage Festival in Annapolis.

The two other shallops in the race are also Smith replicas, built in Virginia. The Deltaville Maritime Museum, Holly Point Nature Park and the Deltaville Community Association joined forces to create the Explorer near the mouth of the Rappahannock River.

Volunteers at the Reedville Fishermen's Museum, on Virginia's Northern Neck, created The Spirit of 1608 using local trees that were toppled by Hurricane Isabel.

Spokesperson Michael Shultz said the race is a fun way to commemorate Smith's voyages. "It will also bring attention to the new water trail in his name, and to the recreation and tourism opportunities the trail creates," Shultz said.

"On the Trail of Captain John Smith: Rediscovering the Chesapeake Bay" is a one-hour documentary that captures the shallop's 2007 voyages and ponders the experience of the landscape that existed four centuries ago. Producer and director Susanne Stahley followed the crew as they maneuvered the boat through summer heat, dramatic scenery and "some gargantuan reminders of the modern world."

"We got some incredible aerial images that really evoke the Smith shallop on its historic, almost mythic journey," she said.

Despite spending personal time on the Bay, Stahley was moved by the perspectives she gained on the shallop.

"I was still surprised by things like the cliffs of the Rappahannock and the misty marshes of the Nanticoke. But those surprises await anyone who ventures out. And it reinforces what I've learned over the years-the Bay is a unique place in the world, with world class beauties that we need to remind people of."

2008 Shallop Appearances

  • Premiere of "On the Trail of Captain John Smith: Rediscovering the Chesapeake Bay": 7 p.m. April 17 at the Prince Theatre in Chestertown, MD. Fee: $5. To reserve a seat, call 410-778-5954.

  • Broadcast of "On the Trail of Captain John Smith: Rediscovering the Chesapeake Bay": 9 p.m. April 25 on Maryland Public Television.

  • Shallop Race at the Maryland Maritime Heritage Festival: 12:10 p.m. May 3 in Annapolis.

  • Kickoff Celebrations for the Delmarva Discovery Center: June 8 to July 8 (tentative dates) in Pocomoke City, MD. For updates, e-mail

  • Re-enactment at the Shrewsbury Institute: Aug. 9-10 at Turners Creek, MD.

  • Bay Jam Fleet Race: Aug. 16 at Turners Creek, MD.

Funding Approved for 2 more 'smart buoys'

Congress recently approved $440,000 for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Chesapeake Bay Office to deploy two new "smart buoys" along the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Water Trail.

The two buoys will join three that were placed last year to mark the trail, which is under development by the National Park Service. The initial three buoys were located near Jamestown in the James River in Virginia, and in the Potomac and Patapsco Rivers in Maryland.

The buoys transmit real-time monitoring and weather information, as well as cultural and historic information about each site. Information can be accessed via the Internet at or by calling 1-877-BUOYBAY.

The buoys are intended to aid boaters on the trail, as well as provide information to scientists, teachers, students and others interested in the Bay's health, and history.

Meanwhile, the Friends of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Water Trail, an organization devoted to promoting understanding and appreciation of the Bay through the trail, is calling on Congress to appropriate $1 million to further expand the buoy system in 2009.

For details, visit the organization's web-site at