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

Life at Sea

SS La Provence, 1905 || Charles Verne (active ca. 1890-1910) || paper, ink

Family life at sea: it was not uncommon for the ship’s Master to bring his family aboard. With many voyages lasting months or years, the only way to keep the family together was to bring them on the journey. The captain’s family lived aft, in the cabins off the saloon, and dined with the captain. Children were occasionally born at sea and, in these cases, often spent their formative years away from land.

While captains’ wives typically had on official duties, there are a number of examples of women aboard ships learning navigation, and in one case even taking command of the ship when the captain fell ill.

The ship’s wheel is located here so as to be mechanically close to the rudder, which is directly underneath the gear box. The gear box contains the worm gear and mechanisms that connect the wheel to the rudder. This wheel, which is original to Wavertree, is unusual for its odd number of spokes.

The poop deck, also called the quarterdeck, is the raised deck in the stern of the ship. The term ”poop deck” has its roots in the French word for the stern, la poupe – and not in what you thought (I did too)…

Touring the 1885 tall ship Wavertree, flagship of the Seaport Museum fleet.

South Street Seaport Museum

June 15th, 2019

Let there be light

This is it friends – 2017 is almost over! It has been adequately bumpy and all kinds of weird and felt, at times, like going two steps back for every step forward but, on a personal level, it’s been a rather good year. So it is only fitting that we bid it adieu with a splash of colour from one of New York City’s most beautifully restored neighbourhoods, the South Sea Port historic district.

Fulton Street is glowing in a ”Sea of Light”, an installation that will run through March 2018.

Wavertree, the great sailing ship, is decorated with its own Christmas tree, as is tradition in maritime countries around the world.   Tonight, even the New York Central No. 31 railroad barge pilothouse is bathed in light. 

And so is the Titanic Memorial, the lighthouse erected in honour of the lives lost in the sinking of the Titanic.

From the iconic South Sea Port, my warmest wishes for a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful New Year!

May the light be with you always!

December 26th, 2017