From the moment I stepped aboard, I knew I was home.
I have been aboard plenty of ships before, but never have I felt like this before. Walking towards her down the pier she was a sight to behold. Her white hull shone bright in the morning sun and her masts stretched to the blue sky above. As I walked down the gangplank and set foot on her deck I knew I had arrived. That first day we didn’t leave the dock, but I spent a total of 10 hours aboard. I painted wood, polished brass, hauled sail, and heaved a few lines. It was a fine summer’s day on the river working on an over century old sailing vessel.
Although, at first, while impressive, she at the same time didn’t look like much. I had kind of a similar reaction as when Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia first see the Millennium Falcon. I had seen the ship prior to my first day aboard. My initial reaction was “cool, a tall ship” and then as I got closer, “wow, she really needs some work”. That 100+ year old sailing vessel sure had been through a lot. She had an active fishing career from her launch in 1901 to right up until the mid-1960s. Every year she would voyage from Portugal to fish for cod on the Grand Banks off of Newfoundland. In retirement she moved to Philadelphia as a museum and sail training vessel. Like the weathered face of an old salt, all of this prior life experience showed. Perhaps her condition is what drew me to her. Here was something that I could get involved with and help to restore and maintain. Here was something that went beyond myself.
The ship had history. The ship was history. Men lived and worked aboard her for over 60 years. Oh, the stories she could tell! To lend a hand myself and help preserve that legacy is something special.
And, for as long as I can recall I have been drawn to water and have held an interest in the sea and maritime culture. Here was an opportunity for me to finally become part of it.