Susie Collamore christens the bow of the Virginia sloop Luna at the ship at Deltaville Boatyard as volunteer Mark Kinsel and Madeline Booz, 9, look on. Photo: Larry Chowning

1768 Replica Sloop Luna Christened in Deltaville

A 17th- and 18th-century style ship christening ceremony was held Saturday, May 14 for the replica of the Virginia sloop Luna.

Several hundred people attended the christening at Deltaville Boatyard as the skies and rain cleared as if to honor such an event. Luna is a replica of a 1768 Virginia two-masted sailing sloop and and is owned by the Colonial Seaport Foundation (CSF). 

The vessel will be home-based on the lower Chesapeake Bay and the organization plans to use it to display and demonstrate the operation of the vessel, and display vintage equipment, tools, procedures, skills and lifestyle used or experienced within 17th and 18th century maritime history.

The group’s other areas of interest and expertise depicted in its reenactments and addressed in its educational programs include life in coastal and maritime communities; life aboard a vessel of the period; common trades within the maritime community; and coastal transportation along the Atlantic Seaboard.

Colonial Seaport Foundation (CSF) president John (Jock) Collamore
addresses the several hundred people at Luna’s christening. CSF has
worked tirelessly to bring Luna to reality. Photo: Larry Chowning

CSF also plans to use Luna as a commercial sailing freighter to carry freight to East Coast ports to promote eco-friendly (low-carbon) transportation.

Luna’s wooden hull was built in 1972 by Rosborough Boats in Nova Scotia as a 45’ 8” ketch. The line of vessel was part of what the company named its Privateer Class and the original name was Luna. The name Luna is Latin for Dianna, which means Goddess of the Hunt. The hull was lengthened and redesigned into a sloop by Charles Neville of Centreville, Md.

Luna was launched Friday at J & M Marina on Broad Creek where engine and rigging were installed. The boat was motored to Jackson Creek without “a hitch”, said CSF president Jock Collamore.

The christening program took onlookers through a traditional ship-christening with the log book passing to Luna’s Captain Tom Ivey, the ship bell presented by Laura Noel, ships blessing by Rev. Guy Holloway, a flag ceremony and a cannon salute. CSF founding fathers and Board of Directors were all introduced.

The christening was performed by nine year old Madeline Booz and Susie Collamore, Jock’s mother. Madeline poured water over the side of the boat and, as a 17th-century custom, yelled out the name of the boat, “Luna!”. Then Susie poured a silver pitcher full of water over the bow to complete the christening.

Jock thanked the hundreds of dedicated volunteers and donors who embraced the project and have supported it along the way. The idea for Luna was conceived nearly 20 years ago. “Everyone of you who has played a role in this, we owe you so very, very much and we thank you,” he said. “I would be remiss if I did not mention those who supported us and are now looking down from heaven at us on this day.

“The Luna will fit exactly into our program,” he said. “We are a nonprofit organization and our focus is preserving 17th- and 18th-century maritime history in Virginia, North Carolina and Maryland.”

     Historian, author and keynote speaker Kevin Duffus spoke to the significants of the role the Virginia sloop played in Tidewater’s 17th and 18th century maritime economy.

Duffus said 1730 shipping records show that a freight trip load from York, Rappahannock and James rivers to the West Indies included 5,000 bushels of corn, 5,000 bushels of peas, 4,000 roof shingles, and there was one account of a sloop loaded down with freight which included a horse and wagon bound for New York.

Sloops were not just used between the East Coast and West Indies but there were numerous reports of Virginia sloops trading in Europe and one report of a sloop trading in China, said Duffus.

He noted that the sloop was also small enough and had a shallow enough draft to “tuck into small coves” and was a favorite vessel of Chesapeake Bay and North Carolina pirates.

    Capt. Ivey spoke on the facts surrounding Luna and her future and the significance of the educational role she will play for generations to come. “I think she is going to be a fine vessel,” he said.

-Larry Chowning