The Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race The Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race: Racing to Save the Bay

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of this event? The mission of the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race is to promote public awareness of the Chesapeake Bay's maritime heritage and encourage the preservation and improvement of the Chesapeake's natural resources.

Who benefits from this year's race? Proceeds from the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race will support children's education programs at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

How big is the event? In 2013, there were 35 entries. More than 150 schooners have participated over the last twenty-four years.

How did it start? The first annual race was in 1990, with seven entries. Every one has returned; Norfolk Rebel has raced every year. Forty schooners have raced five or more times.

Who can participate? Entry is open to all schooner-rigged vessels. The race committee reserves the right to reject entries for reasons of safety.

I may not race until next year; how can I check it out? Owners and captains of nonparticipating schooners are invited to contact us to arrange admission to land events.

What if I can't get away for the whole event? If your schedule will not permit participation in all events, we still want you to come. Contact us to make arrangements.

Can my friend's classic wooden ketch sail in company? Sorry, only schooners. No spectator fleet.

What's the deadline for entries? The cut-off for the 3,000-foot fleet limit will be determined on a first-paid, first-entered basis. Only complete entries will be considered. If your entry is incomplete, the race office will call you. Schooners planning to join only the Baltimore festivities do not count toward the 3,000-foot limit.

What happens if I miss the cut-off date? A waiting list will be maintained once the limit is reached. We will contact wait-listed vessels.

After I have entered, do I just show up at the start? Please refer to the events schedule for activities. There is a mandatory Captains' Meeting on Wednesday, then a mandatory Skippers' Meeting at 0730 on Thursday before lines are cast off to proceed to the start ? schooners not represented shall be disqualified. Captains unable to attend in person must arrange official representation and notify the race committee. Also, we request that you arrange for your Baltimore arrival with the Baltimore dockmaster.

Do I have to participate in the Parade of Sail? Parade participation is optional, but encouraged, as it helps develop public awareness of the event, is good for race publicity and helps generate future financial support. If you have room on board for a guest or two, please consider embarking some race sponsors or volunteers.

Can I invite my family and friends to the land events? Yes, the public is invited to view the Parade of Sail on Wednesday evening. Other events are open only to captains and crew.

Why do I pay extra for my paying passengers? Race expenses grow in direct proportion to the number of people on board participating schooners. We expect commercial vessels would pass this cost on to their customers.

Why do you request a donation from participants? The race is a grassroots event: the same volunteers who donate work, donate money. Where possible, we hope that schooners, as primary beneficiaries, would also be willing to share the cost. Many captains, even those not participating, enjoy making a contribution to assure the continued success of this event and support its mission. We want the event to be affordable for all schooners; donations are strictly voluntary. Net proceeds from the race are donated to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Donations to the race are tax-deductible under 501(c)3 and qualify for employer matches. We list each donation under the boat's name on our promotional materials unless you instruct otherwise.

When do I have to be in Baltimore? All schooners are expected to dock in Baltimore no later than 1200 Wednesday. You are welcome to arrive as early as you wish; docking will be arranged.

What if my plans change after I send the entry forms? Please let us know. Send a message to

Is my entry fee refundable? Your entry fee and donations are a major part of our contributions to our selected charities. The fee is not refundable.

How do I contact the race committee? Please see Contact Us.

Where do I dock in Baltimore? Arrange for docking by notifying Lee Klima, our Baltimore dockmaster, at 410.961.8777 of your ETA in Baltimore as far in advance as possible. (Alert us if your plans change.) We will help you arrange transportation, provisioning, ice, etc. Early arrivals are welcome and can receive free docking beginning on Friday. Hail "Schooner Race Dockmaster" on VHF 16 as you enter the harbor. You will then be asked to switch to VHF 68. You may contact Lee Klima at 410.961.8777 or


This is meant to be a fun race; however, the safety of the vessel and her crew is the sole and inescapable responsibility of the captain, who must ensure that the vessel is sound, seaworthy and manned by experienced crew who are physically fit. The captain must further ensure that all equipment is properly maintained and stowed, and that the crew knows its location and proper usage. It is also the sole and exclusive responsibility of the captain to decide whether or not to start or continue in any race. Vessels will be disqualified for unsafe operation or failure to have formal representation at the Skippers' Meeting on Thursday morning. The race involves sailing at night in an area busy with commercial traffic. All participating vessels must fly radar reflectors, maintain a radio watch and keep a good lookout at all times. Vessels unfamiliar with night sailing on the Chesapeake are encouraged to seek local knowledge before entering the event.

What do I do when I get to Baltimore? Please fuel your vessel and pump your holding tank before docking. We encourage all participants to take a turn around the Inner Harbor under sail before they tie up to promote the race to the public.

How can I receive mail, packages and faxes during race week? Contact us at regarding deliveries before and including October 15. Contact Susan Cocke at for deliveries after October 15. She will let you know where items should be sent.

May I open to the public for tours? Yes, in both ports. Send us a press kit. If you sell souvenirs, keep this activity aboard the vessel, please.

What do I put on my float plan? Expect to arrive in Portsmouth between Friday morning and Saturday morning, depending on the weather and your speed. Make sure your family knows how to communicate with us in event of personal emergencies.

Do I have to complete an entry form if everything is the same as last year? Yes, you are not registered for the current year's race until you complete an entry form in its entirety.

Do I have to complete the handicapping data form? Yes! Even if you have raced before and measurements, prop, sail inventory, etc. remain unchanged, you should submit the information. If rated under the 1974 Off Soundings Club Rating Rule for another event, please submit that rating along with your measurements. Please measure your vessel and enter the measurements online or mail this data to us when you register. We strongly advise you to measure your boat, not her plans.

Must I order race shirts? I don't need any more shirts. Yes, they admit you to all festivities.

Why do you want so much information about my schooner? We like to know about all of the schooners for publicity purposes. We'd like to know how long you've had her, where you have been sailing her, what you know about her history, and anything about her that makes you love her. Please email photos to

What should I tell the cook? We will assist with transportation for provisioning in both ports. Sixteen pound bags of ice will be available in Portsmouth at cost. We feed you and your crew on Wednesday night and Saturday afternoon. Other meals are on your own. There are great places to eat within an easy walk of our docks in both ports.

Who organizes this race? The Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race, Inc. is a Virginia nonprofit corporation under 501(c)(3). About 100 volunteers in each port, led by race chairs, make the race and activities run smoothly.

Parade of Sail


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