Schooner Sultana

Schooner Sultana

This traditional 18th century ship, based out of Chestertown, Maryland, sails the Bay providing hands-on education in the history and natural environment of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed.

The modern Sultana represents one of the earliest examples of schooner building in North America. The original ship was the smallest schooner ever registered on the British Royal Navy Lists. As a vessel of mixed American and British heritage, Sultana has roots on both sides of the Atlantic and was on the scene when the American colonists took their first steps toward independence.

Today, the Sultana is a floating classroom for learning about colonial maritime history, as well as the rich ecosystems of the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays.

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There are no fees to view the vessel when it is berthed.

Contact the shipyard for fees for the educational programs.


The Sultana Education Foundation traces its origins to a community effort to build a replica of the 1768 schooner SULTANA in Chestertown, Maryland, between 1997-2001.  The construction of SULTANA established the framework for what would become a broader effort by the Sultana Education Foundation to provide opportunities for students of all ages to learn about and experience the Chesapeake Bay.   While the Foundation’s horizons have expanded beyond the decks of SULTANA, the schooner remains one of the organization’s most productive educational platforms and the flagship for all that the Sultana Education Foundation accomplishes.

SULTANA is a reproduction of a Boston-built merchant vessel that served for four years as the smallest schooner ever in the British Royal Navy.    Manned by a 25-person crew, the original SULTANA patrolled the coastline of colonial North America from 1768 to 1772 enforcing the hated Townsend Acts or “Tea Taxes.”  From this vantage point SULTANA and her crew had a unique perspective on the conflict that would ultimately become the American Revolution.

A key factor that led to SULTANA’s selection for replication was the wealth of primary documentation from the original vessel that was preserved by the British Navy.  SULTANA’s reproduction is based directly on a 1768 Royal Navy survey of the original schooner, making it one of the most accurate 18th century replicas in the world today.  In addition to these drawings, the Royal Navy also preserved more than 2,000 pages of the vessel’s log books, correspondence, and crew lists.  These documents have proved to be an incredible resource for the schooner’s educational programs.

The construction of SULTANA would not have been possible without the inspiration of Master Shipwright John Swain and the 200,000+ hours of labor provided by the scores of volunteer shipwrights who aided with her construction.


With more than 11,000 miles of shoreline, the Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in North America and home to some of the most historic and environmentally significant waterways in the United States.   The Sultana Education Foundation offers a variety of programs for individuals, friends, and families to get out and experience this national treasure in our midst.    Whether you spend a morning sailing the Chester River on the schooner SULTANA, a day kayaking through acres of American Lotus flowers on the Sassafras River, or a week exploring the cypress swamps and barrier islands of the lower Delmarva Peninsula, a Sultana Public Program gives you an opportunity to have a truly unique experience on the Chesapeake Bay.


The vessel itself does not enable wheelchairs to board, but the dock is handicapped accessible for visitors to approach and view the schooner.

Main image: Schooner Sultana
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