The Art of Sailing Diplomacy


Captain Will Gates of the Maryland Dove at Historic St. Mary’s City invited all of us from Ocean Passages aboard for a history lesson and tour of the ship.  Captain Gates is also a former deckhand, mate, and captain of the Harvey Gamage.

On November 22, 1633, the Ark and the Dove set sail from the Isle of Wight to settle the Maryland Colony.  After three months asea, the ships entered the Chesapeake Bay, sailed into the Potomac River, and anchored at St. Clements Island.  Rather than resort to violence, Governor Leonard Calvert negotiated the purchase of 30 acres with the Piscataway Indians.  The new Marylanders settled at St. Mary’s City, stayed in Piscataway longhouses as they built their own houses, and learned how to cultivate corn from the Piscataway.  Because of the goodwill of the Piscataway and the exchange between the two peoples and cultures, the Maryland Colony was the only colony to have a surplus of corn in its first year.

This tale of diplomacy and cultural exchange serves as a lesson to us as we sail south to Cuba.  It shows how people of different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences can come together through offers of friendship and understanding.