Sail Jacksonville Downtown this Weekend

May 28, 2009 14 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

This maritime festival will highlight the essential roles the St. Johns River and maritime community have played in the history of Jacksonville and will be anchored by the visit of ASTA Tall Ships


Jacksonville - Mayor John Peyton and the City of Jacksonville are proud to present Sail Jacksonville, May 29-31, on the Northbank of the downtown riverfront. This maritime festival will highlight the essential roles the St. Johns River and maritime community have played in the history of Jacksonville and will be anchored by the visit of ASTA Tall Ships® - the Spirit of Massachusetts, the HMS Bounty, the Pride of Baltimore II, the Roseway, the Schooner Alliance, the Schooner Voyager, and the Schooner Mistress.

In preparation for the event, the Tall Ships® will arrive to the downtown riverfront on Thursday, May 28 and Friday May 29. The ships will be welcomed by ceremonial cannon fire courtesy of Fort Caroline on Friday, May 29.  The event is free and will feature ship tours, river cruises, St. Johns Riverkeeper information and activities, fireworks, a pirate battle, nautical education booths and activities including the Lil’ Mates Play Dock children’s area, live entertainment at The Jacksonville Landing featuring Nik and the Nice Guys, Flashback and more.

“Sail Jacksonville is another opportunity to ‘Make A Scene Downtown’ and celebrate the St. Johns River, a treasured natural resource for our city,” said Mayor Peyton. “Activities along the riverfront will offer educational programs, fun and entertainment for all ages.”

The hours and activities are as follows:

Friday, May 29, 4 – 10 p.m.

Dockside Ship tours (self-guided) - 4 -7 p.m.
Live entertainment at The Jacksonville Landing              
   Lisa & The Mad Hatters - 6 – 9 p.m.
   Nik & The Nice Guys - 10 p.m. – 1 a.m.
   Heart of Sailing Sail-a-thon Special Needs Sailing, Two-hour sails - 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Saturday, May 30, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Dockside Ship tours (self-guided) - 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Live entertainment at the Jacksonville Landing                
   Nik & The Nice Guys - 7 – 9:45 p.m.
   Flashback - 10 p.m. – 1 a.m.
Lil’ Mates Play Dock  (Nautical fun for children) - All Day
Nautical educational booths and activities - All Day
FREE forty-five minute river cruise aboard the Lady St. Johns - 10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Heart of Sailing Sail-a-thon  Special Needs Sailing, One-hour sails - All Day

Rock the Boat Fireworks Spectacular - 9:45 p.m.

Sunday, May 31, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Dockside Ship tours (self-guided) - 11 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Live Entertainment at The Jacksonville Landing              
   Lil’ Mates Play Dock  (Nautical fun for children) - All Day
   Nautical educational booths and activities -  All Day
FREE forty-five minute river cruise aboard the Lady St. Johns    Noon – 4:15 p.m.
St. Johns River Pirate Battle for treasure - 3 p.m.
(Located on the St. Johns River, east of the Main Street Bridge)

Heart of Sailing Sail-a-thon Special Needs Sailing, One-hour sails - 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Seven Tall Ships® will add a dazzling touch to the already beautiful St. Johns River during the 2009 Sail Jacksonville Festival held on the downtown riverfront.

The Spirit of Massachusetts was launched on April 28, 1984 at the Charleston Navy Yard in Boston, Massachusetts. She was built by her original owners for service as a sail training vessel for young people. She also served as a good-will ambassador for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from 1984 until 1987. Ocean Classroom Foundation began chartering Spirit for educational programs in 1997, and subsequently purchased her in 2000.

The H.M.S. Bounty was built in 1960 as a replica of the original ship for an MGM film. The original was commissioned in 1787 and was destroyed after a mutiny. The new ship has been used in several feature-length films, documentaries, T.V. shows, as a tourist attraction, and is now an educational venture.

The Pride of Baltimore II, built in 1977, is the only existing replica of an 1812 Baltimore Clipper topsail schooner. She has sailed over 200,000 miles and visited over 200 ports across the world. Pride II was commissioned in 1988 as a sailing memorial to her predecessor, Pride of Baltimore, which was sunk by a white squall off Puerto Rico in 1986.
Built in 1925, Roseway has led a long and distinguished career, serving as a racing yacht, a fishing vessel, and a pilot boat guiding allied vessels during World War II. When she was retired in 1972, Roseway was the last sailing pilot boat in the United States. She then began serving passengers as a charter vessel off the Maine coast before falling into disrepair. In 2002, the World Ocean School began a two-year restoration. Today, after almost 85 years of service, Roseway is again sailing the Atlantic providing educational programs to underserved youth worldwide. She is one of only a handful of authentic, historic vessels in the Tall Ships® fleet.

The Schooner Alliance was built in 1995 by Treworgy Yachts in Palm Coast, Fla.  She was built as the Kathryn B. and worked as a charter vessel in the Maine Windjammer fleet. In 2005 Yorktown Sailing Charters purchased her and brought her to Yorktown, Virginia to start the day sail cruises from Riverwalk Landing Pier as the Alliance. She gets her new name from the French and American Alliance that was instrumental in winning the war of Independence in 1781.

The Schooner Voyager is an authentic 100-foot replica of a 19th century gaff rigged packet schooner that combines modern conveniences with the charm of yesteryear. She is a secure and stable vessel with watertight bulkheads, emergency equipment and meets the stringent requirements of the U.S. Coast Guard. Voyager is certified to carry up to 49 passengers and 10 crew members for a business or pleasure cruise.

The Schooner Mistress is a 1930 Eldridge McInnis designed Eastward Schooner that spent 70 years on the Great Lakes before Master Shipwright, F. W. “Skip” Joest and his wife Kathleen purchased her and had her shipped to St. Augustine, Fla. Skip restored the hull and redesigned and rebuilt everything else.  After a six-year rebuild, MISTRESS was re-launched in July 2006.  Since then she has participated in several tall ship and wooden boat festivals on the east coast.

The City of Jacksonville will provide free tours of the St. Johns River aboard the Lady St. Johns. Tours will depart from the Northbank Riverfront and travel down the St. Johns River. Port tours will last approximately 45 minutes. Tours will be conducted on Saturday, May 30 from 10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. (last departure) and on Sunday from noon – 4:15 p.m. (last departure).

A variety of on-the-water activities and demonstrations will highlight the beautiful downtown riverfront throughout the weekend. The First Coast community will welcome visiting Tall Ships® to the downtown riverfront on Friday, May 29 with the Parade of Sail. The parade will feature most of the participating ships and will be escorted by private vessels from the boating community. The ships will venture along the St. Johns River to their respective areas along the Northbank Riverfront. Sunday events will close with a rousing Pirate Battle at 3 p.m. as the ships battle for the Treasure of the St. Johns. The Pirate Battle will feature the participating ships and the Brothers of the Coast ( a band of pirates whose home port is in North Florida.  The Brothers of the Coast travel up and down the Atlantic Coast from North Carolina to Key West sharing their mission of preserving history, teaching about the founding of our country and entertaining.  The Brothers have promised to share the Treasure of the St. Johns with everyone attending Sail Jacksonville.

A street festival, live entertainment, and children’s activities at the Lil’ Mates Play Dock will line the Northbank Riverfront from the CSX building to Newnan Street.  Live entertainment at The Jacksonville Landing will highlight local and regional talent for all ages. In addition, strolling entertainment, including pirates, will roam the festival throughout the weekend.

The skies of the St. Johns River will light up on Saturday night at 9:45 p.m. for the Rock the Boat Fireworks Spectacular choreographed to nautical music and shot from two river barges located near the Hyatt Regency Hotel and The Jacksonville Landing.

Other Activities

Heart of Sailing Sail-A-Thon (Special Needs Sailing)

Heart of Sailing offers educational, recreational and therapeutic sailing adventures to special needs children and their families. Local yacht clubs will show support by volunteering their boats and time to take part in the sail-a-thon. This sail is FREE and special sailors will receive a commemorative souvenir. To register for a sail, visit

The St. Johns Riverkeeper is an organization that serves as a full-time advocate and “watchdog” for the St. Johns River, its watershed and the public to whom it belongs. The St. Johns Riverkeeper will have games and activities designed to educate the public on the river and how to protect it.

The North Florida Council of the Boy Scouts of America will be at Sail Jacksonville to educate attendees on how to be prepared when on the water. They will feature demonstrations on how to tie nautical knots and distribute information about scouting for families and summer camp programs.

The Sea Scouts are organized to promote better citizenship and to improve members’ boating skills and knowledge through instruction and practice in water safety, boating skills, outdoor, social, and service experience and knowledge of our maritime heritage. They will provide attendees with a fun and interactive experience while learning about maritime heritage.

Southbank Jacksonville Historical Center is a quiet spot on the Southbank Riverwalk to enjoy the St. Johns River and highlights of Jacksonville’s history.  See a dramatic diorama of the Jacksonville’s great fire of 1901, images of Jacksonville’s movie era, and a working scale model of Jacksonville Union Terminal and the trains that worked from the station. The Center is on the Southbank Riverwalk just east of the Main Street Bridge.  It is available by walking the Main Street Bridge or by the water taxi from The Jacksonville Landing. Sail Jacksonville Schedule/Activities for the Southbank Historical Center:

Friday, May 29 - 10:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Saturday, May 30  -1 – 5 p.m.
Sunday, May 31 - SOUTHBANK SUNRISE – sunrise plus two hours
Enjoy a beautiful morning at the river’s edge with complimentary coffee and muffins.

The Jacksonville Maritime Museum has extended their hours in support of the 2009 Sail Jacksonville Festival. Visit the gift shop and view model ships including carrier “Saratoga”, the USS Constitution, painting, artifacts and photographs related to maritime history. The museum is located on the Southbank at the foot of the Main Street Bridge. Sail Jacksonville Schedule/Activities for The Jacksonville Maritime Museum:

Friday, May 29 - 10:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Saturday, May 30 - 1 – 5 p.m.
Sunday, May 31 - 1 – 5 p.m.

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Sail Jacksonville is proudly presented by the City of Jacksonville Office of Special Events and sponsored in part by The Jacksonville Landing, Coca-Cola, Cox Radio’s WOKV AM 690 and 106.5 FM.  

For more information, call Special Events (904) 630-3690, or visit