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TideWriters Tales
Schooner Virginia Visit’s the York River
By Richard Moylan Jr.

     It never fails! Every time I drive over the Coleman Bridge something out in the York River catches my eye. Today it was of course, another boat. A ship to be more exact, a tall ship. The two-masted gaff topsail schooner Virginia, a replica of the 1917 pilot schooner Virginia was moored at the new Yorktown Waterfront dock. Recently launched from her home port of Norfolk Virginia The Virginia was up in The York training high school students from Texas. Her mission is just that. She is a training and teaching vessel extending hands on sail training for students, sailors and anyone interested in marine science and maritime history. 

     Virginia is the first all wooden sailing schooner to be constructed since the early teens. She is 121 feet long, draws 12 foot of water and has 6538 square feet of sail. Sparred she is 126 feet long and has a beam of 23 feet. The all wooden boat weighs in at 97 tons and is powered by two twin diesels. The schooner was replicated as exact as the U.S. Coast Guard would allow her to be with a few updated regulations, some modern plumbing and of course the diesels. Her masts stand 112 feet above water level and she is quite a sight under sail. 

     Virginia carries a crew of eight but can accommodate a crew of twelve plus twelve passengers. To my surprise the crew is all volunteer according to First Mate Dana Mancinelli a former HASMAT tech. who heard of the Virginia project a few years back. She aggressively pursued a position on board the majestic vessel. Her Captain, Nicholas Alley also a volunteer has been sailing tall ships and tugs for several years now and enjoys his new commission. 

     Although the Virginia has only been in the water since June 2005 she is already cloaked in mystery. Her name sake, the original Virginia has disappeared without a trace. She can be traced back to the late forties when she was sold to Mr. William H. Hoeffer of New York. He owned her until 1947. No one has been able to find any records of her where a bouts. The original Virginia was originally owned by The Virginia Pilot Association. 

     Although Virginia is a in the process of training at this time and not available for the public she will be available for charters and functions all around the Chesapeake Bay soon and she can and will sail the waters of the world. Over night trips are on her schedule but they are selling out quickly. I believe Virginia will be back in Yorktown on Friday the 12th. She is a wonderful sight moored at the new dock of Yorktown and I do recommend visiting her while she’s there. She is a one of a kind vessel. 

     Anyone interested in Virginia or has information about the original Virginia can contact her office at (757)627-7400 or you ca visit her web site at www.schoonervirginia.org.

Photos by Richard Moylan, Jr.

© 2005 Richard Moylan Jr. All Rights Reserved 

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