COMMERCIAL TOWNSHIP – She has been a fixture of the summer season for more than 30 years, and this year is no different as the historic Schooner AJ Meerwald sails along the Maurice River in Bivalve.

“We are grateful to have the opportunity to sail and see so many of our faithful patrons coming back for another season,” said Brian Keenan, executive director.

While the ship, a 1928 Delaware Bay Oyster Schooner, is sailing again this year, things are a bit different from past seasons. All passengers and crew members are required to wear masks and occupancy on the ship has been reduced to facilitate social distancing, but the crew still sings sea shanties and the sails still billow in the wind.

“Because of COVID, the crew is not able to sleep aboard the ship, preventing us from traveling the state, so the ship is sailing exclusively from its home port in Bivalve,” Keenan said.

While off the beaten path, Bivalve is worth the visit. In addition to a two-hour sail on the historic AJ Meerwald, visitors can stroll through the Delaware Bay Museum and working waterfront and enjoy fresh oysters on the museum’s docks while watching eagles soar above and fishing boats return to port with their daily hauls.

“We were custom made for social distancing,” Keenan said. “Nearly every aspect of our museum and café are outdoors and, of course, the sail on the AJ Meerwald is as well.”

People interested in sailing aboard the AJ Meerwald, visiting the Delaware Bay Museum or eating at the Oyster Cracker Café can get more information at njsails.com or by calling 856-785-2060.

The Schooner AJ Meerwald is owned and operated by the nonprofit Bayshore Center at Bivalve. The organization’s mission is to advance the understanding of the human impact on the environment.

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