After spending six days on the road doing the Newport International Boat Show in Newport, Rhode Island, then coming back to put together the October issue, it was then time to climb back in the GMC and spend another weekend at a boat show. This was the Classic Small Craft Celebration held at Portland Yacht Services in Portland, which is a show aimed at getting more people involved in boating. One wonders if the younger generation is interested and this should be a great way to introduce them to boating. It only runs Saturday and Sunday, which is nice and that allowed me to leave early Saturday morning to set up. The weather was great and there were some interesting exhibitors and events. Unfortunately the turn-out was a little light, and some thought because it competes with the Common Ground Fair. With a little more marketing, additional boats and events this could be a fun couple of days for anyone. Sunday morning saw a number of people come down to watch a high school sailing match right off the waterfront. People brought chairs and when they got hungry turned to one of the venders for a snack. One thing that I want to see more of is ‘how to’ discussions. There was someone there that was teaching people about knots and fancy rope work. There are all sorts of things some may want to learn that could be part of the show. How about some basic classes in boat construction, especially related to kit boats? How about trying out different boats, maybe for boat handling instruction or to see if that is the boat for you. There is already talk about next year’s show and ways to make it better. Make sure you put this one on your calendar.
While at this show I was doing well until I spied a wooden peapod, which looked interesting. When I walked by her on Saturday I did not notice that she was for sale, but did Sunday morning when I got to really look her over. Ever since I picked up CINDY JEN (a wooden 34-foot Beals Island lobster boat from 1964) I have been looking for a classic tender and since I have always loved the peapod this looked like the perfect one. What is more interesting is she was built by George “Pat” Patten back in 1977. He built her from John Gardner’s book, but modified the ends by tipping them off a little. Unfortunately time has yet to allow me to put her in the water to try her out, but since she is holding water in one question has been answered and her former owner says she is great to row. Hopefully I can get her in soon to see that for myself.
How about three boat shows in four weeks? Back in the spring Maine Marine Trade Association announced that they were going to host a boat show at Thompson’s Point in Portland the first weekend in October. Rachel and I, mostly Rachel, put the show program together so we knew who was coming and it was a number of the major players. However, going into the show I did not know what to expect. I had never been to Thompson’s Point, but was impressed when I stepped through the door and saw how the displays were set up. Stacey Keefer, the head of MMTA, did an incredible job getting people signed up as exhibitors and marketing the event. Many said the place reminded them of the old site of the Maine Boatbuilder’s Show, an old brick building. Over the three days there was a constant flow of people and some of them were serious buyers. I know one purchased a Padebco model, another a Proline and when we were closing down on Sunday afternoon someone purchased the center console boat at the exhibitor’s entrance. What was more interesting was that she was then heading to New Mexico. Every exhibitor I talked to was more than pleased with the weekend and was sure they would return next year.
Portland is getting more and more ridiculous as when I looked for a hotel room they wanted $200 or more per night. Since after the show I was going to do my runs on the North Shore of Massachusetts and then lose myself in the Sawyer Library in Gloucester for two days I opted to stay in Portsmouth. How can Portland get more than a hotel in Manhattan? For the most part real Mainers no longer stay in Portland. Hopefully when the economy crashes those people from away keep coming.
I need to get the website live with the Vessel Database and that should happen in a month or two. I am already adding more vessels to this list, which comes from American Lloyds for 1862. This will add some vessels that were not in existence when the “List of Merchant Vessels” began being published in 1867. They also had a lot of different information, but in some cases they used abbreviations, which I am spelling out. One problem is that their list of abbreviations does not include all the abbreviations they used.
Still working with newspapers copying out marine related articles and as it has happened before recently proved that this is of great value to some. Someone contacted me about the loss of the ISABELLA, which went down in November 1837. I had fortunately transcribed that year in the Bangor Whig and Courier and was able to call it up. Here is that article:
“The following account of the melancholy shipwreck of one of the vessels belonging in our bay, and the loss of lives on board, we take from the New York Courier & Enquirer. If the barque described by Mr. Henderson should be discovered in one of our ports, it would be difficult for the authorities on board to escape the operations of Lynch law.
Our news boat ECLIPSE came up last night, having boarded at 2 PM 25 miles east southeast of the Hook, the schooner FOREST DAVIS, of Friendship (Maine), 25 days from Eastport for New York, from which the following report was obtained. On the 21st of October, Nantucket South Shoals West by north 15 miles distant, in a very heavy sea, rolled away 20 feet of the foremast, also broke it off by the deck. Has since had strong northwest gales, and was driven off to the Gulf Stream. The 4th instant, Lat. 35 40, Long. 74 20, fell in with the wreck of the schooner ISABELLA, full of water, both masts and bowsprit gone. Took from her Mr. James Henderson of the Isle au Haut. Mr. Henderson informs us that he sailed from New York about 25th of October, for Wilmington, NC in the schooner ISABELLA, Captain Samuel Turner, of the Isle au Haut, Maine, having on board Mr. Snow, of Bucksport, and Charles Lewis of Nealer, of Camden, cook a lad 15 years old. On the 4th day out, hove to under a close reefed foresail, blowing a gale from northwest, with snow, hail and rain; on the third night after they hove to, the sixth day out, then in the Gulf Stream, shipped two tremendous seas, which capsize the schooner; at the time all on board were in the cabin. About an hour after, both masts broke off by the deck, when she righted, and Captain Turner, Mr. Snow and himself succeeded in gaining and lashing themselves to the quarter deck. The cook was drowned in the cabin, Mr. Snow was washed off fifteen minute after and was drowned; half an hour after, the captain was washed off and also drowned. The gale continued twenty-four hours after they were capsized, and Mr. Henderson expected every minute to be washed off; the sea ran mountains high, and he could only catch his breath between the waves as they rolled over him. There was only ten feet of the quarter deck out of water. He had nothing to eat or drink the seven days he was on the wreck but a handful of hay. On the first morning after he was capsized, he saw a brig pass about eight miles from the wreck. On the second day he saw a foretopsail schooner four miles off. On the third day, nothing. On the fourth, saw two fore and aft schooners four miles distant. On the fifth, about 2 PM, he saw a barque with painted ports, a small white streak below, black yards; the round house short and high, painted green; billet head painted white; foretopsail old, with several patches on it; her bowsprit steaved more than common. She ran down upon the wreck before the wind. The sea smooth, about a four knot’s breeze; unlashed himself, and expected that she intended to run so near that he could get on board; but when she came within three or four hundred yards, she hauled upon the wind and left him. There were ten men aft looking at him. He had a handkerchief tied to a board, which he waved to them, he also hailed her, but to no purpose. She was so near that he could see the hoops on the buckets that a man was painting on the round house. He took her to be a British barque, with little or no cargo in. Saw nothing on the 6th; that day he found a little hay which he ate, it being the first food since he was on the wreck. On the 7th day, at 2 PM was taken off by Captain Davis, who treated him with the greatest kindness, and gave him his own bed to sleep on, for which he returns him his sincere thanks. Mr. Henderson has lost all his money and clothes, and has nothing but what he has on. He came up last night in our news boat, and is in a very feeble state.
Then in one of my recent emails from the History Channel was a reference to “The Disappearance of Theodosia Burr.” This sounded familiar as I remember an article in the New Hampshire Gazette for 1820 that told a similar story. Again I was fortunate as it had been transcribed and yes it was Theodosia, but the last name should have been Allston, which was her married name. Theodosia was the daughter of Aaron Burr, the person who killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel on 11 July 1804. Several years later he was accused of being a traitor and leaves the country. The disappearance of Theodosia occurred when she boarded the brig PATRIOT at Charleston, SC and departed for New Orleans in 1812. Unfortunately that is the last they heard of her or anyone else on board the brig and speculation as to what happened has continued to be theorized over the years. Some thought she may have been captured by the British, but that was proven to be untrue. Others have claimed they were victims of pirates. The article may answer the question, but some still feel that the actual truth will never be known.
Fate of the Pilot Boat PATRIOT. – It will be recollected by many of our readers that during the late war with England, the above-named pilot boat was dispatched to Charleston for the purpose of bringing to this city Mrs. Allston, lady of the then governor of South Carolina, and daughter of Colonel Burr, formerly vice president of the U. S. Mrs. Allston was in a delicate state of health at the time, and unable to travel by land. Timothy Greene, Esq. of this city, an intimate friend of governor Allston’s family, proceeded to Charleston in the pilot boat, for the purpose of accompanying Mrs. Allston on the voyage.
From the time they embarked and sailed from Charleston no tidings whatever had ever been heard of the vessel or anyone on board. It was at first supposed that the vessel must have been captured by a British cruiser, but after a lapse of time that hope was abandoned. Notwithstanding the weather was mild and favorable for several days after the vessel left Charleston, and such as to render her loss mysterious, up to the present time, no other idea of the melancholy circumstance had prevailed than that the vessel must have foundered at sea, or run under during a chase.
But the mystery is at length developed – for the honor of human nature, were to be wished that the facts had never been revealed, and that the following horrible tale had been buried with the wretches who told it.
A gentleman recently from New Orleans, has communicated to a friend of the family of the late Mr. Green, that two of the pirates, lately sentenced to suffer death at New Orleans, confessed that they composed part of the crew of the above pilot boat PATRIOT! that after being at sea two or three days, and near the shore, they rose upon the captain and passengers, and confined them below – when they stood close in shore and after plundering the passengers of a considerable sum of money and plate, belonging mostly to Mrs. Allston, they launched the boat and scuttled the vessel, which soon filled and went down with the unfortunate inmates confined below! The dreadful tragedy was performed in the dead of night. These wretches succeeded in reaching the shore with the boat, and had thus far escaped detection and punishment for this horrible crime. – Mercantile Adv.