Skipjack Nathan Sails To Vienna’s Shad Festival

The skipjack Nathan of Dorchester will launch her 2009 sailing season by participating in Vienna’s Shad, Music & Heritage Festival on Saturday, April 25. This will be the first appearance for the skipjack at Vienna’s annual event.

The Nanticoke Watershed Alliance, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Town of Vienna and other partnering organizations sponsor the Shad Festival each year to coincide with the spring spawning runs of American Shad. Educational exhibits and fun activities bring awareness to the plight of the species and efforts to restore its populations.

The event is famous for the Chicone Ruritan Club’s planked shad. Shad fish are cooked over an open pit fire on white oak planks the day of the Festival. Once done, the fish go fast as Festival regulars line up for this unique delicacy.

Live music, local food and craft vendors and children’s activities contribute to the Festival’s attraction for residents and visitors from throughout the region.

For the Nathan, the Shad Festival involves a two-day trip by water around Dorchester County for what is a twenty-minute drive down Route 50 from her home port of Cambridge. During the event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the skipjack will offer short hourly sails on the Nanticoke River. Cambridge’s Gerry Horney and Bill Smith will be on shore to fire canon salutes.

Admission to the Festival is free. There is a charge for the skipjack rides of $10 for adults, $7 for children 6-12, and under 6 free. No advance reservations will be accepted.

Once back home in Cambridge after the Shad Festival, the skipjack will begin her regular season of public sails on Saturday, May 2, with a two-hour sail on the Choptank River from Long Wharf at 1:00 p.m. Reduced-rate one-hour Sunday sails will be offered once a month beginning May 24. Her public sailing schedule continues through October. Charters are also available for group functions or special events.

For more information, to charter the boat or to volunteer, contact the Dorchester Skipjack Committee at 410-228-7141 or visit its website,