- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 21, 2002

NORFOLK The downtown waterfront will fill this fall with the sights and sounds of workers using traditional boat-building techniques to create a replica of a 1917 schooner that will represent Virginia in ports worldwide.
The keel of the schooner Virginia will be laid on Oct. 21.
The wooden tall ship will be built at a pier on the Elizabeth River, next to the Harbor Park baseball stadium, said Robert C. Glover III, executive director of the Virginia Maritime Heritage Foundation. Construction of the ship will take about two years.
"I'm proud today to advise the sails are full, the project is on course," Stephen A. Johnsen, chairman of the foundation, said at a news conference.
The foundation's goal is to build a replica of the 118-foot Virginia, the last sailing pilot schooner, in use on the Chesapeake Bay from 1917 until 1926. The new ship will be based in southeastern Virginia but will cruise around the world as a goodwill ambassador for the state.
The ship also will help Virginia schoolchildren learn about the state's maritime history and other subjects through interdisciplinary programs on deck, on the Internet and in the classroom, said John O. Simpson, superintendent of the Norfolk public schools. The curriculum will align with the state's Standards of Learning, he said.
The foundation is trying to raise $5.5 million to cover the $3.2 million cost of building the ship and the first two years of operation.
The effort so far has brought in $1.75 million, including private donations, $810,000 from the state and a $250,000 federal transportation enhancement grant administered through the Virginia Department of Transportation, Mr. Glover said.
Mr. Glover acknowledged that Virginia is in a budget crisis but said that for a relatively small investment by the state "the payback can be profound."
Similar tall ship projects in other states, such as Maryland, draw tourists and encourage economic development, said Mr. Glover, a former skipper of the Pride of Baltimore II, a replica of an 1812-era topsail schooner that represents Maryland in ports worldwide.
Mr. Glover said that during a typical tour of Europe, the Pride of Baltimore II generated news coverage equivalent to an average of $8.5 million to $9 million in advertising for Maryland.
About 500,000 people are expected to visit Norfolk's waterfront during the construction of the Schooner Virginia, and 53,000 people are expected to visit the ship annually after that, Mr. Glover said.
The Schooner Virginia will be the first tall ship built on the shore of the Elizabeth River in more than 100 years, Mr. Glover said. The keel-laying is scheduled just after the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race on Oct. 19-20, and many of the vessels in the race are expected to be there for the keel-laying ceremony, he said.
Master boat builder Peter Boudreau and his firm, Tri-Coastal Marine, have been selected to build the Virginia, using the original blueprints as a guide. Mr. Boudreau also created the Pride of Baltimore II.

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