400 years later, replica of John Smith's boat to voyage on the Chesapeake

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NORFOLK, Va. -- It didn't take long yesterday for the handsome wooden boat to fill with dirty brown water...But swamp was exactly what the shallop -- a replica of explorer John Smith's vessel -- was supposed to do, and it came through with flying colors.

"It's great to be on a sinking boat," joked Capt. Ian Bystrom to bystanders along the city waterfront. "We're just washing her out."

Made of sturdy timber from Maryland's Elk Neck State Forest, the boat will set out May 12 from Jamestown, Va., for a three-month [1,200-mile] voyage around the Chesapeake Bay to commemorate Smith's exploration 400 years ago. It will tie up in Baltimore and Annapolis in mid- and late July before ending its journey Sept. 8 back where it started.

The launch capped years of planning by history buffs and recreation advocates...

In the stern is a plank from Maryland's Wye Oak, recognized as the largest white oak in the country when it fell during a storm in June 2002. The Eastern Shore tree, which grew to nearly 100 feet tall and 32 feet around, was at least 65 years old when Smith began his voyage of discovery...

In addition to bringing attention to the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, the voyage will highlight the new Chesapeake National Historic Water Trail, the first all-water trail in the National Park system. The law authorizing the trail was approved by Congress and signed by President Bush last year.

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