Photo courtesy of Ralph Smith

Schooner American Eagle Newsletter

February 2014 


In This Issue
Crews News
Old Photos
Cruise News
Postcards from shipmates
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          It's still winter here and most days it's hard to believe that in a month the winter cover will be coming off the schooner and spring outfitting will start.  May 23rd is when some of you arrive, bags in hand, for our 28th season windjamming aboard the American Eagle.  Brad and Johnny as winter crew have about exhausted the supply of indoor projects for the off season.  Boats are ready, anything that could be varnished ashore has been varnished a lot, new mast hoops made, and even some shipyard tasks completed.  You can tell we're well ahead when you see the vessel's anchors in the paint shop for tarset epoxy and rustlok.  





         Another thirty sash and all the shipyard windows will have been repaired, reglazed, repainted, and back in place; those are my projects weekday mornings.  Capt. Doug and I have already done fifty.


          We start hauling schooners April 3rd and expect to have the American Eagle's masts laid out on the dock by then as well.  Taking care of a landmark vessel is satisfying, but never as much fun as sailing one with you all.


Cruise News


decorative arts of the sailor, June 2013
Photo courtesy of Ralph Smith


          Not all your time aboard is taken up by scenery, raising sail, or polishing off another piece of pie.  With all kinds of line aboard there's an opportunity for knot tying, splicing, and telling stories.  There's something about one of our windjammer cruises that makes for good company and shared experiences;  it's hard to explain what being a shipmate is until you've been on a sailing adventure on the coast of Maine.


          This season we expect to cruise from within sight of Canada downeast to Stellwagen Bank in Massachusetts Bay up to the westward and a hundred little harbors in between.  And again about the pie.


Photo courtesy of Tony Messana





Old News 



          As much as I love old pictures I know I have to make them relevant to your readership; Capt. Ben Pine managed the American Eagle from 1938 - 1945.   This striking image is of the schooner Arthur D. Story, participating in one Gloucester Fishermen's Race in 1929, with Ben Pine at the wheel.  She was built in 1912 as the Mary for Capt. Maurice Whalen.  With the schooner Harry Belden, Capt. Whalen won the most celebrated race, in 1892, written up by James B. Connolly.  The wind blew 54 miles an hour that day and a lot of canvas was lost.  The Mary was in the rum traffic during prohibition, blew up in 1928, and was repaired, renamed after Essex's famous shipbuilder.

"Fishermen's Race, Labor Day, 1929"



          On Labor Day 1929 the race was between four craft, finishing in the following order:  the Progress, the Arthur D. Story, the Elsie, and the Thomas S. Gorton.  Both the Story and the Elsie were lost in March, 1935, freighting herring back from Newfoundland.



Capt. Murphy who had the American Eagle built in 1930, made the news now and then, most notably for a big trip made in 1908 when he skippered the schooner Emily Cooney.



          There's a nice model of the Emily Cooney in the Peabody Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.




Crew's News


          What can I say?  This was the crew in June, 2013.  You're apt to see most of them again this season.

photo courtesy of Ralph Smith



Postcards from shipmates 


           With a salute to the recent Olympics



         I sent this five years ago when I was Tasmania.  It must have been photoshopped as the Tasmanian devil would have made quick work of the little wombat.  Wombats are supposed to make good pets, but you do have to trim their nails.


I didn't find a postcard of the companionway off the Otago, the barque captained by Joseph Conrad, but that piece of deck furniture  is in the Maritime Museum in Hobart.



          And here's the sidewheeler Bay State, drawing away from the steamboat pier, probably in Rockland. Despite her name, she was built in Bath, Maine, in 1894, equipped with engines and boilers at the Portland Company in 1895.  Her last passengers arrived in Portland in September, 1916, although she lingered behind on Cape Elizabeth, grounded due to heavy fog and the lack of the Cape Elizabeth lightship which was off station for maintenance.






           There's lot's to do here this time of year: the Fishermen's Forum this weekend, and later in March, the  Maine Boatbuilders' Show at the Portland Company, where by coincidence the sidewheeler Bay State had her boilers and engines installed.  

Here in Maine, some people even go skiing!

Photo courtesy of Barbara J. Holt
Until spring,
          John and the crew

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Schooner American Eagle
P O Box 482 
Rockland, ME  04841
(800) 648-4544