Mary­land Dove and its pier get­ting facelifts

As replica ages, plans for new ves­sel get un­der­way

The Enterprise - - Front Page - By TAY­LOR DEVILLE tdev­[email protected]­news.com

Those who visit His­toric St. Mary’s City in the com­ing weeks hop­ing to catch a glimpse of the Mary­land Dove will not find it there. Nor will they find the pier where the re-cre­ated Dove is usu­ally docked, of which only the pil­ings cur­rently re­main.

Mu­seum staff and con­trac­tors are re­plac­ing the worn-out pier this fall and win­ter, while main­te­nance work is be­ing done on the 41-year-old ship.

The replica is loosely mod­eled af­ter one of the two ships, the Ark and Dove,

that brought the first English set­tlers to the Po­tomac River shores in 1634 to start the Mary­land colony. Although the orig­i­nal trad­ing ships were lost to his­tory, the re-cre­ated Dove has served as the am­bas­sador of His­toric St. Mary’s City since its con­struc­tion in 1977.

The ship is cur­rently ashore at Den­nis Point Ma­rina in Dray­den, un­der­go­ing rou­tine work in­clud­ing bot­tom paint­ing, re-caulk­ing, chang­ing zincs to pre­vent ero­sion un­der the boat, and ser­vic­ing the pro­pel­lers.

This year, the ship­wrights are also “re­plac­ing a plank on the star­board side which had a split end,” Will Gates, cap­tain of the Mary­land Dove, said in an email.

But four decades on the water has caused some wear and tear to the ves­sel.

“It’s get­ting to the point where we’re hav­ing to make large re­pairs to it,” Regina Faden, His­toric St. Mary’s City’s di­rec­tor, said. “We have staff who take very, very good care of the ship now, but it is get­ting older.”

Over the years, Gates and a team of vol­un­teers and ship­wrights have had to re­place a por­tion of the ship’s stem, or large tim­ber at the for­ward most part of the bow, as well as “sig­nif­i­cant por­tions of the un­der­wa­ter plank­ing and even some of the top­side plank­ing,” Gates said.

The stern post, too, has seen some “sig­nif­i­cant rot to the core,” Gates said.

“Those parts are not de­graded to the point where they’re dan­ger­ous yet, but they’e de­graded suf­fi­ciently enough that if we were keep­ing the ship for three or four more years, we would be con­cerned that they might be­come dan­ger­ous in that time frame,” he said.

A part­ner­ship be­tween His­toric St. Mary’s City and Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Mar­itime Mu­seum to con­struct a re­place­ment replica was an­nounced last year. The state has al­lo­cated $2.5 mil­lion in the 2021 bud­get for the es­ti­mated $5 mil­lion project, but Faden ex­pects that money to be moved up in the bud­get cy­cle af­ter the con­tract is pre­sented to the state’s Board of Pub­lic Works on Dec. 5. The new ship could be fin­ished by Au­gust 2021, Faden said.

As one of the re­searchers on the new replica, Gates said the chal­lenge lies in align­ing a his­tor­i­cally ac­cu­rate ship de­sign with U.S. Coast Guard stan­dards.

The ex­ist­ing replica is not a true re-cre­ation of the orig­i­nal Dove. For one, no pic­tures of the 380-year-old ship ex­ist, leav­ing re­searchers to in­fer how the ship might have looked from 17th cen­tury de­pic­tions of sim­i­lar ves­sels.

“The orig­i­nal con­cept was to build a [1680s] to­bacco ship to go with the town cen­ter,” which de­picts a late 17th cen­tury St. Mary’s City, the first cap­i­tal of Mary­land, Gates said.

“In the process of talk­ing to a de­signer, Wil­liam A. Baker, a naval ar­chi­tect and his­to­rian, it was de­ter­mined to build a small, 40-ton [replica] the same size of the Dove of 1634. It be­came ob­vi­ous that nam­ing it the Dove would help with fundrais­ing,” Gates said.

He added, “In the years that fol­lowed, it be­came ap­par­ent that the main story peo­ple wanted to hear about was the voy­age of the Ark and the Dove to found the colony. Our pro­gram [will be] bet­ter served by a ves­sel that clearly rep­re­sents the Dove of 1634, rather than a 1680s mer­chant ves­sel that hap­pens to be the [same size as] and named to com­mem­o­rate the Dove.”

Although the de­sign has yet to be fleshed out, Gates said the big­gest dif­fer­ences be­tween the two ships will be in the num­ber of masts — it’s be­lieved that the orig­i­nal Dove had the three masts typ­i­cal for a coastal ves­sel, rather than the dual masts on the cur­rent replica — and the type of rig on the ship, which was thought to be a com­bi­na­tion rig.

The ex­ist­ing replica was not in­tended to rou­tinely carry pas­sen­gers, but the re­mod­eled ves­sel will be de­signed “with U.S. Coast Guard re­quire­ments in mind” that will al­low the ship to tra­verse the wa­ters with pas­sen­gers on­board, Gates said.

There has been in­ter­est in fundrais­ing ac­tiv­i­ties in­volv­ing auc­tion­ing off rides on the Dove, Gates said, but “the cur­rent ves­sel isn’t au­tho­rized to do that.”

With the new ship, the hope is that it will be opened up to those fundrais­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. Still, the ship won’t be used to ferry vis­i­tors on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. “Our mis­sion isn’t to take peo­ple for rides. Our mis­sion is to teach,” Gates said.

Main­te­nance on the cur­rent Mary­land Dove should be com­pleted by mid-De­cem­ber, Gates said, and it will prob­a­bly re­main at Den­nis Point Ma­rina as work on re­plac­ing the Dove’s pier con­tin­ues. That con­struc­tion is ex­pected to be com­pleted early next year, weather per­mit­ting, ahead of when the out­door mu­seum’s liv­ing his­tory ex­hibits open again in March.

The new pier, funded by the state and Na­tional Parks Ser­vice at $850,000, will sit slightly higher than the last dock, built in the 1980s, to ac­count for the ris­ing water lev­els, Faden said. Mu­seum staff will also have ac­cess to a new boat shed when that is com­plete.

As for the cur­rent replica, vis­i­tors can still ex­pect to find it at His­toric St. Mary’s City for the next few years. The ship’s fate af­ter the new re-cre­ation is fin­ished is still to be de­ter­mined, but Gates doesn’t ex­pect the mu­seum to con­tinue main­tain­ing it.

“It would not be an ef­fi­cient use of the tax­pay­ers’ money to main­tain two ves­sels,” he said. The mu­seum com­mis­sion­ers have been “mulling over a num­ber of op­tions,” in­clud­ing strip­ping the ship down to the bones to keep at the mu­seum, or for use at an­other mu­seum.

“We don’t want to sell it to some­one who’s gonna have a pi­rate ride op­tion in Bal­ti­more or Annapolis. The mu­seum has to pro­tect its brand,” Gates said. “My fer­vent hope is that ship will [con­tinue to func­tion in an] ed­u­ca­tional role.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Vis­it­ing ship­wright David Jones in­spects the un­der­side of the Mary­land Dove at Den­nis Point Ma­rina on Nov. 21.

STAFF PHOTO BY TAY­LOR DEVILLE

The Mary­land Dove sits on dry ground at Den­nis Point Ma­rina as work to re­pair parts of the ship gets un­der­way ahead of a planned U.S. Coast Guard in­spec­tion.

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