On Thursday morning, June 4, the Museum’s eastern-rig dragger Roann departed Mystic Seaport for Cape May, N.J. where she will participate in the Cape May Port Commercial Fishing Festival Saturday and Sunday, June 6-7. Captain Al Burnett and staff members Joe Zaraschi and Walter Ansel, along with volunteers Dick Burke, Jim Fox, George Hinteregger, and Rod Cook, are crew aboard the vessel and plan to arrive in Cape May Friday afternoon.
Hosted by the Cape May Maritime Museum and Education Center and the Cold Spring Fish & Supply Company, the inaugural festival highlights the area’s commercial fishing industry and rich maritime heritage. The festival will be based in the Schellenger’s Landing area and participating exhibitors include the Coast Guard, NOAA, Rutgers University, Garden State Seafood Association, Cold Spring Fish & Supply, Lund’s FIsheries, Atlantic Cape Fisheries, and Snow’s Bumble Bee. Demonstrations, talks, and special activities will be hosted throughout the weekend and visitors are invited to board Roann. The vessel will be open to the public from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday and from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is free.
Roann is scheduled to depart Cape May for Mystic Seaport Sunday evening.
Built in 1947, Roann is one of the last surviving examples of the fishing vessels that replaced sailing schooners like the Museum’s L.A. Dunton. The eastern-rig draggers originated in the 1920s; indeed, Thomas McManus, who designed the Dunton, was influential in their development. Draggers completed the revolutionary advance from sail to engine, and from hooks to nets, in New England fishing technology. Powered by a diesel engine, and dragging a large conical fishnet called an otter trawl along the seabed, Roann and her crew of three could catch cod and haddock twice as fast as dorymen from a vessel like the Dunton could with their baited hooks. Draggers were also the first to catch large quantities of flounder.
Roann has been a Museum exhibit at Mystic Seaport since her arrival in 1997. Most recently she played an instrumental role as a support vessel during the Charles W. Morgan‘s historic 38th Voyage in 2014.