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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Help Put the Wind Back in the Sails of the Schooner Virginia

By David Cartier
Author "A New Day in Olde Towne"

The time has come for us to help the Schooner Virginia. We need to put some wind back in her sails to keep the Hampton Roads icon afloat.

Since its inception, the Schooner Virginia provides an invaluable contribution to Hampton Roads and the Commonwealth of Virginia. As with many organizations, corporate donations and grants have been severely impacted by the economy. The Schooner Virginia is no exception. Private contributions have slowed as a result of the poor economy and a state grant was discontinued two years ago. The Foundation ran out of operating capital to support the mission of the vessel beyond January 1, 2010.

As a result, the Schooner Virginia returned to Norfolk in December 2009. The Virginia Maritime Heritage Foundation, owners and operators of Schooner Virginia returned the vessel and crew to her homeport of Norfolk, Virginia and have winterized her until further notice.

The return to Norfolk does two things. First, it reduces the overall expenses of Schooner Virginia. Second, it gives The Foundation the time needed to intensify efforts for additional funding and the development of a sustainable operating model. Both are keys to the long term success of Virgina's Tall Ship.

It is hopeful that a modified 2010 schedule can be released at a future date to include the Schooner Virginia's signature Youth Sail Training program this summer. In order for that to become reality, the volunteers have organized an event to help raise some money.

The Schooner Virginia Spring Fling Fundraiser will be held Saturday, April 24, 2010 from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. It will be held at Rebel Marina, 1553 Bayville Street, Norfolk.

Tickets are $45 per person. At the gate, it's $50. The ticket includes pig picking with all the trimmings, soft drinks, two beer tickets. Additional beer tickets available for purchase.

Musical entertainmet will be provided by Joe Maniscalco, Bob Zentz, Tanner's Creek Whalers and Elton Williams.

Joe Maniscalco, well-known throughout Hampton Roads, has opened for a long list of acts including Jimmy Buffett, Faith Hill, Chicago, Hall & Oates, Daryl Worley, B52 and Lee Greenwood.

The Tanner's Creek Whalers have been a folk music and sea chanty tradition in Hampton Roads since the early 1970's. The Whaler's sea songs and chanties come from all over the world: England, Scotland, South America, New England and Virginia.

Bob Zentz has been performing for more than thirty years. He is a guitarist and also plays the autoharp, lute, melodeon, mouth harp, banjo, concertina and mandolin. He specializes in historical and maritime music.

Elton Williams is a professional musician that has travelled and worked throughout the Caribbean, France, Germany and North America. He is a recording artist and Solo Performer specializing in steel drum music.

Advance tickets are available at Skipjack Nautical Wares & Marine Gallery at One High Street (on the riverfront), Olde Towne Portsmouth. For more information on the event, call 757.339.8738 or at Skipjack at 757.399.5012. Skipjack store hours are currently Tuesday-Saturday 10am -5pm.

Skipjack Nautical Wares & Marine Gallery is the official ship's store for the Schooner Virginia for merchandise and apparel. You can buy direct in their store or online. Buy, Wear and Support the Schooner Virginia. Remember, the majority of the proceeds from the sales of this merchandise goes to the Schooner Virginia!

The Schooner Virginia had a a very successful year in 2009. It had the most successful youth sail training season in her history during the summer months. Appearances at multiple tall ship festivals up and down the east coast (including The Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race and Portsmouth's Schooner Days) continued to solidify the Schooner Virginia's as the Commonwealth’s goodwill ambassador. Last year an estimated 40,000 persons crossed her decks), and more.

Most recently, the announcement of an exciting new partnership venture in adult education with Ocean Navigator Magazine proved the schooner was on the right course. The Ocean Navigator School of Seamanship Aboard Schooner Virginia and also a new program with Exploritas continue the important adult education mission. After completing two weeks of adult education programs on Celestial Navigation in conjunction with Ocean Navigator Magazine, it is unfortuante the program was cut short and the Schooner Virginia had to return home.

For more information on how to get involved or to make a contribution, contact the Virginia Maritime Heritage Foundation, 500 E. Main Street, Norfolk, Virginia 2351 or call 757.627.7400 or email Their website is

The Schooner Virginia has sent out a distress call – an S.O.S. to ‘Save Our Schooner!’ Presently, the Schooner Virginia (shown right) is stored away with an uncertain future. However, the future of the Schooner Virginia is now. You can help. Be a part of it.

Let’s help keep the Schooner Virginia on its course and put the wind back in her sails. She deserves to be put back where she belongs - in the water.

Courtesy photo of the Schooner Virginia (above). Photo of the Schooner Virginia under cover by Mike Goodwin, Schooner Virginia volunteer and local boat builder. Mike helped build the Schooner Virginia and also helped put her in storage.

A note about the auther: Throughout his hospitality career, David Cartier has been responsible for marketing destinations from Maine to Virginia. He will share the latest on the people, events and what’s happening in historic Olde Towne, Portsmouth. David, along with his wife Betsy own and operate Starboards Coffee Kiosk at High Street Landing, where they provide area information to locals, visitors and boaters alike. David regularly contributes articles to Mile Marker "0" and other Skipjack blogs.

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