ROANOKE ISLAND – The Elizabeth II, whose home port is Roanoke Island Festival Park, will set sail for Washington, N.C. on Tuesday, October 23, to join in the celebration of the annual event, Smoke on the Water. The 16th Century representative ship will arrive in Washington late Thursday morning, October 25, and will be at K Dock on the Washington waterfront. The first full day, October 26, will be devoted to pre- registered area 4th grade classes that include: Bath Elementary; Chocowinity Primary; John Small Elementary; Northeast Elementary and SW Snowden Elementary. This outreach opportunity supports the mission of the Park to involve groups of all ages in a creative and stimulating experience. There will be no admission charge to tour the ship. The public is invited to tour the ship on Saturday, October 27 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. “We are excited to be a part of Smoke on the Water. The Elizabeth II will be 30 years old next year, and it continues to serve as a fun and exciting classroom. We look forward to welcoming the students of Beaufort County and communities of the nearby areas”, Kim Sawyer, Executive Director of Roanoke Island Festival Park, adds.
The Museum Store from Roanoke Island Festival Park will be located nearby the Elizabeth II throughout Smoke on the Water. After touring the Elizabeth II, stop by the booth and pickup souvenirs and collectibles of the 16th Century vessel. Elizabeth II inspired items will include pins, magnets, ornaments and more. And for your little swashbuckler- pirate gear including patches, hooks, hats, telescopes, flags and pirate treasure! Smoke on the Water features a barbecue cook-off – eastern NC style, car show, artisans, vendors, and music. A 5K and 10K road race will be held during the event, as well as the Annual Fine Arts Show.
Founded in 1776, the town of Washington, North Carolina, was the first city in America to be named for General George Washington. Because of this, the city is still occasionally referred to as “Original Washington.” It is known for the stately homes and lovely gardens that make up its residential area, as well as the ornate brickwork featured on the vintage commercial buildings of Main Street. The town offers unique opportunities to the visitor, from world-class restaurants and intriguing antique stores to art galleries, performing centers, and more
The ship was constructed in the early 1980’s to commemorate the 400th Anniversary of the Roanoke Voyages. Shipbuilders used the designs of vessels from 1585 to build the Elizabeth II. It was constructed on the Manteo waterfront by a team of builders, lead by Mr. O. Lie-Nielson and was moved to what is now known as Roanoke Island Festival Park where it is the star attraction as visitors board the vessel and help set the sails, plot their course and swab the decks!
First Lady Carolyn Hunt, wife of North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt, christened the ship on November 22, 1983. Elizabeth II slid down the rails into Shallowbag Bay and hit the water for the first time. Eight thousand locals, visitors and dignitaries roared and shrieked with delight! Horns blared, whistles blew, cannons and guns were fired! Elizabeth II was launched successfully! The proud vessel floated for the world to see- an authentic representation of one of the ships that had brought the first English colonists to these shores four hundred years ago!
Measuring 69 feet long and 17 feet wide and drawing 8 feet of water, Elizabeth II was funded entirely through private donations. Her decks are hand-hewn from juniper timbers. Her frames, keel, planking and decks are secured with 7,000 locust wood pegs.
The first Elizabeth was one of seven vessels that were part of Sir Walter Raleigh’s Military Expedition to the New World in 1585. Thomas Cavendish, who mortgaged his estates in England to raise money for the venture, captained it. Looking at her today, quietly and serenely in the water, one can almost envision that earlier landing with the eager settlers coming ashore to start life anew in this strange and abundant land.
She will begin her journey back to her home port of Roanoke Island Festival Park on Sunday, October 28, and will be back at the attraction on Tuesday, October 30. For more information about Roanoke Island Festival Park call (252) 475-1500, visit us the park online or got to the website of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.