Gloucester Gears Up for Labor Day Weekend Schooner Festival

With 24 ships slated to sail into Gloucester Harbor for this weekend’s Gloucester Schooner Festival, the 30th annual event is poised to break the festival’s record for participating ships. The two most anticipated schooners, by far, are the Coast Guard Barque Eagle and the Adventure.

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(Photo by Carl Gustain via gloucesterschnooerfestival.com)

The 295-foot tall ship, the Barque Eagle  the largest of its kind flying the stars and stripes and the only active square-rigger in the U.S. government service — will sail into Gloucester Harbor at approximately 1 p.m. on Friday to kick off a long weekend of honoring the city’s maritime history. Free tours of the training vessel will be offered from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday.

Maritime enthusiasts will have the opportunity to ride aboard some of the schooners participating in the race and festival.  To book a sail and purchase tickets go to www.gloucesterschoonerfestival.net.  Some free spaces are also available for youth (12 to 18 years) on participating schooners during Sunday’s races. To reserve a free slot for children, email info@maritimegloucester.org or call 978-281-0470.  At least six vessels vying for the Esperanto Cup on Sunday (including Roseway, American Eagle, Amistad and Liberty Clipper) will be open.

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(Photo by Cheryl Briscoe)

This week, Schooner Adventure received permission from the U.S. Coast Guard to sail with passengers for the first time since 1988. That ends a 25-year quest for Gloucester’s boating community to retrofit Adventure. Christened in 1926, Adventure is a registered National Historic Landmark and one of the last remaining wooden fishing schooners that sailed from Gloucester, Massachusetts and one of two surviving “knockabout” schooners (which do not have bowsprits). Adventure was donated to Gloucester in 1988 for preservation as a historic tall ship. Since then, the nonprofit organization Gloucester Adventure, Inc. has toiled to get her back to sea.

Other weekend highlights include a special tour of the Amistad (a replica slave trade schooner) at 11 a.m. on Monday. Entitled “Refuse to do Nothing,” the tour will discuss contemporary world slavery issues.

The festival’s popular Lobsta Bake will return to Maritime Gloucester and Fitz Henry Lane Park from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. The $15 meal — along with the Schooner Festival raffle, raises money for youth sailing programs and to bring the Tall Ship Eagle to Gloucester — includes lobster, corn on the cob, a Virgilio’s roll and live music by Old Cold Tater.

The Labor Day festivities will also include a free, vibrant fireworks display over Gloucester harbor at 9:15 p.m.

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Lead sponsors for the festival include Building Center of Cape Ann, City of Gloucester, First Ipswich Bank, Market Basket, Americold and Institution for Savings.

To reserve one of the free spots (spaces limited) for youth during Sunday’s race, email Maritime Gloucester at info@maritimegloucester.org. Passengers interested in participating can visit http://www.gloucesterschoonerfestival.net. Advanced tickets for the Lobsta Bake may be purchased at Maritime Gloucester at 23 Harbor Loop.

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