A few raindrops can’t sink Lewes Maritime Day

Event serves as official opening of historic Lightship Overfalls for another busy season
May 25, 2024

A little bit of rain didn’t dampen the annual Lewes Maritime Day held May 18 in Canalfront Park.

The event opened with a solemn ceremony to honor Lightship Overfalls volunteers who died the past year, including William Reader, Robert Cote, John Page Holt III, Beverly Kennedy, J. “Faye” McDaniel and Helen Schnoebelen. Tribute was also paid to the seven sailors on the Lightship Nantucket who lost their lives 90 years ago. In heavy fog, the ship was struck by the RMS Olympic May 15, 1934.

The event included a variety of sea-related activities, including tours of the Lightship Overalls and newly restored Lifesaving Station, a memorial service, a History Happens Here tour by Cape Water Taxi, Freedom Boat Club rides, exhibits, demonstrations and Grandpa Mac’s food truck. Also, the Lewes Historical Society hosted a living history event and highlighted its new The Wireless exhibit at the Cannonball House. 

New Jersey’s official tall ship A.J. Meerwald, at the Lewes public dock, offered tours May 18 and a public sailing May 19.

Maritime Day is the official opening for the historic Lightship Overfalls as it begins another busy season of tours and events. Although the lightship docked at Canalfront Park was never stationed off Lewes, it’s a restored ship that served at three New England stations from 1938 to 1972. The Boston, its last assignment, arrived in Lewes in 1973 and was named in honor of the lightship sailors stationed at the mouth of Delaware Bay at Overfalls Shoals. Restoration efforts were led by a dedicated group of volunteers known as the Dirty Hands Gang.

Major sponsors included Beach Flooring Designs, Freedom Boat Club, Groome Church, Henlopen Bait & Tackle and Lewes Historical Society. Involved in the planning were Heath Gehrke, Cape May-Lewes Ferry director of operations; Betsy Reamer and Ted Becker, Lewes Chamber of Commerce; Michael Safina, Overfalls Foundation; Eleisa Weber, Coast TV; and Janet Reeves and Giulia Kirsch, City of Lewes.

Sen. Russ Huxtable, D-Lewes, and Sussex County Councilman Mark Schaeffer of Lewes presented proclamations to the Overfalls Foundation.


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