New Dove replica ship to be constructed
No plan for the current vessel at this time
Two ships, the Ark and Dove, brought the first English settlers to the shores of the Potomac River more than 380 years ago to start the Maryland colony. Both ships were lost to history, but a replica of the Dove was built ahead of the 350th anniversary of the founding of Maryland, and has served as the ambassador of Historic St. Mary’s City ever since.
But even that replica ship is nearing the end of its life, and plans are underway to build another version of the Dove.
Historic St. Mary’s City and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum
are partnering to build the new replica ship.
Work began on the current Maryland Dove replica ship in 1977 in Cambridge on the Eastern Shore by 77-year-old James B. Richardson. It took 15 months to finish the work and the Dove was then sailed across the Chesapeake Bay and brought to St. Mary’s City in October 1978.
At 39 years old, the Dove “is still safe but is nearing the end of her serviceable life,” Regina Faden, executive director of Historic St. Mary’s City, said.
The Dove “has been hauled and repaired every year, but the consensus of informed ship builders is that a new vessel could be built more efficiently and less expensively than the old [ship] could be rebuilt,” she said.
Historic St. Mary’s City and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum will partner on the design and the construction of the new Dove. That work should start late this year or in the first half of 2018, Faden said. Once construction starts, work is expected to take two years.
What then becomes of the existing Dove?
“We do not have a plan for the current Dove yet,” Faden said.
It is estimated to cost $4.5 million to build a new Dove ship. The Maryland General Assembly passed a $500,000 bond bill this year toward the project and Historic St. Mary’s City is still working to secure the rest of the funding, Faden said.
Sen. Adelaide Eckardt (R-Caroline, Dorchester, Talbot, Wicomico) said in a statement, “this is a unique, a very historic opportunity as we bring together two of our wonderful highlights, both from the Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland. We work together with a lot of initiatives, but this is a new pioneering ground where we bring together our deep, rich history, our cultural background and our trades and crafts.”
“This is a true Maryland project and one we’re thrilled to be involved with,” Kristen Greenaway, president of Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, said in a statement.
The 76-foot long, 42ton
Dove was built for $200,000 in 1978. “She has traveled up and down the bay and Potomac River over her lifetime and as far as Delaware,” Faden said.
Starting in November 1633, the Ark and Dove sailed across the Atlantic Ocean carrying about 140 colonists from England to Maryland. The original Dove was then used as a cargo ship by the settlers once the Ark sailed back for England.
“At the end of May , the Ark returns to England, leaving the Dove behind to provide transportation for goods to be traded up and down the Atlantic seacoast. In the fall of 1634 the Dove is sent north to Boston to trade corn for salt cod and other commodities. In August of 1635 the Dove is sent back to England with furs and timber to trade and is never seen again, probably lost at sea,” according information from Historic St. Mary’s City.
The replica of the Dove sits docked at the Chesapeake Bay Marine Museum in St. Michaels. Historic St. Mary’s City, the ship’s home port, and the marine museum are partnering to design and build a new Dove.