Maritime Day returning to Lewes

Delaware State News
Posted 5/12/22

LEWES — The public is welcome to celebrate maritime history and its impact on the region at the annual Lewes Maritime Day at the Lightship Overfalls and in Canalfront Park on May 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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Maritime Day returning to Lewes

Posted

LEWES — The public is welcome to celebrate maritime history and its impact on the region at the annual Lewes Maritime Day at the Lightship Overfalls and in Canalfront Park on May 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Co-organized by the Cape May–Lewes Ferry and the Overfalls Foundation and supported by the Zwaanendael Museum, the Lewes Historical Society, the Lewes Chamber of Commerce and the city of Lewes, this event — with displays, boat rides, vessel tours and activities — is free to the public.

A brief ceremony at 10 will kick off the event and reopen the Overfalls for the season. It will include the laying of wreaths to honor local mariners and Overfalls Foundation members who have “passed over the bar.”

“Lewes has a unique place in the annals of American maritime history, of which the ferry is a part,” said Heath Gehrke, director of ferry operations. “The festival is a fun and interactive way to learn more about our maritime history, industry and its many vocations.”

The Overfalls and its museum property will be open for free tours throughout the day.
Various maritime participants will have displays at Canalfront Park, adjacent to the Overfalls, and other vessels will be open for tours and rides.

Additional Maritime Day activities will include a life raft demonstration by the ferry and a water cannon display by the Lewes Fire Department boat.

The finale will be a program about “The Wreck of the DeBraak,” presented by and hosted at the Zwaanendael Museum, starting at 2:30. The British warship, which sank off the coast of Lewes in May 1798, was recovered by treasure hunters nearly 200 years later.

“Our objective for this Maritime Day is to inform and educate the public about the contribution of maritime resources in the local community and to share the community’s rich maritime history, including that of the U.S. Lighthouse Service and U.S. Lifesaving Service, precursors to the U.S. Coast Guard,” said Michael Safina, president of the Overfalls Foundation.

“Lightships played a major role in the safe navigation of ships and their mariners throughout this nation’s history, and our guides are excited to help in bringing that story to light. We look forward to having the community help us reopen the ship for the 2022 season.”

The Lewes Historical Society will be displaying two unique Delaware vessels: the Delaware Oyster Sharpie and the Delaware Ducker.

In addition, society interpreters will be portraying historic figures from the DeBraak at Canalfront Park and the Lewes Maritime Museum at the Cannonball House.

In 1933, Congress declared May 22 as National Maritime Day. The designation honors the contributions of the American merchant marine — civilians who have defended the freedom of the United States since 1775 and who executed the largest sealift the world has ever known during World War II.

Observance of National Maritime Day also honors the maritime industry and the benefits it brings in terms of transportation, jobs, goods and recreational opportunities.