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Paul Strand, 53, of Portsmouth, boisterously portrays Capt. John Smith during a ceremony unveiling the monument to honor Smith’s discovery of the nearby Isles of Shoals — which he named Smith’s Isles — in 1614. The granite obelisk at Rye Harbor State Park in Rye includes a rendition of Smith’s map of New England. (John Quinn/Union Leader Correspondent)

Isles of Shoals commemorated in weekend ceremony

RYE — For some, Capt. John Smith was a self-promoting braggart. For others, he was a fearless explorer, always looking to the next horizon.

This month, Paul Strand of Portsmouth is portraying the 17th-century explorer as New Hampshire marks the 400th anniversary of Smith’s finding the Isles of Shoals.

Strand, 53, recently portrayed Smith at the dedication of a granite marker at Ragged Neck Point at Rye Harbor State Park. Strand recited a speech that the boisterous captain gave in London following his journeys to the New World, proclaiming: “Make haste in deciding whether to throw your lot in with me.”

RYE detail As waves crash nearby, area residents and officials admire the new monument commemorating the 400th anniversary of Capt. John Smith’s journey to coastal New England in 1614. This granite obelisk at Rye Harbor Beach Park in Rye includes a bronze replica of Smith’s map of the journey. John Quinn/Union Leader 

After helping found and lead the Jamestown colony in Virginia, Smith returned to America to explore “Northern Virginia” and map the coastline between Cape Cod and Penobscot Bay during a six-month voyage in 1614.

As a result, he discovered the Isles of Shoals, which he named Smith’s Isles, and coined a name for the region in his book, “A Description of New England.” The 1614 monument is made of four pieces of New Hampshire granite. More than 17 feet tall, it weighs 18 tons. It also includes a bronze replica of Smith’s map and historical summaries of him and his book on New England and the Isles of Shoals.

Strand said he looks forward to portraying Smith again during the upcoming John Smith Day, Aug. 27, on Star Island. It will feature the rededication of the original monument to the 1614 voyage, installed in 1864 to mark the 250th anniversary. A second monument was erected on Star Island to honor Rev. John Tucke in 1914 for the 300th anniversary of the exploration.

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