Wavertree was built in Southampton, England in 1885

In 1910, on a second attempt to round Cape Horn in extremely violent conditions, Wavertree was dismasted. The mainmast broke above the deck, carrying with it the bulk of the upper fore and mizzen rigging. Tons and tons of iron, steel, cable, and canvas came crashing to the deck, crushing the compass platform destroying deck machinery, and rendering the ship unable to sail. Remarkably, no one was killed or even badly injured. But it was the end of her career as a sailing ship.

Interestingly, this tragedy is what allowed Wavertree’s survival to today. Instead of being sailed aggressively by her owners and ending up as a hulk on a reef, broken up for scrap, or being lost at sea, she was converted, first to a floating warehouse and then to a sand barge. When she was no longer useful to her owners in those capacities and was doomed to become scrap, she was discovered and bought for the Seaport Museum. In 1970 she was towed into New York Harbor and has been cared for by the museum’s staff and volunteers ever since.

South Street Seaport Museum

June 15th, 2019


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