Archive for 'Tall Ships'

The Irving Johnson To Be Re-commissioned Today

Posted by John Callender on May 20th, 2006 at 4:01 am

More than a year after the brig Irving Johnson went aground just south of the entrance to Channel Islands Harbor, the ship is set to be officially re-commissioned today at Berth 78 in Ports O’ Call Village, San Pedro. The ceremony, which is open to the public, is scheduled to begin at 11:00 a.m.

A good article about the ongoing restoration work appeared last month in San Diego’s The Log: Irving Johnson repairs continue. And a nice piece about the re-commissioning was in yesterday’s Daily Breeze newspaper: Wounded ship ready for sea.

Photo: The Irving Johnson before the grounding, from BusinessWire.

Repairs Continue on the Irving Johnson

Posted by John Callender on November 30th, 2005 at 9:22 pm

The Irving Johnson aground off Channel Islands Harbor

I’ve talked before about how a grounding is the sort of thing that’s guaranteed to get a boater’s attention, and if the grounded vessel is a tall ship, even a smallish one, the interest level is going to be that much higher. That was certainly the case back in March of this year, when the Irving Johnson, a 90-foot replica brigantine launched in 2003, went aground just south of the entrance to Channel Islands Harbor. The boat remained hard aground for a couple of days before she could be refloated. Here’s an article on the event from Ocean Navigator Online: Sail training vessel runs aground off California coast. And here’s another, somewhat more breathless, account from the CBS News web site: ‘Horrifying’ spring break at sea.

Now The Log’s Coty Dolores Miranda has written an article detailing some of the ongoing repair work being done on the boat in Ventura Harbor: Irving Johnson reemerging, slowly but surely. There’s a fair amount of detail about the volunteers helping the Los Angeles Maritime Institute (LAMI) to bring the boat back to tip-top condition.

The photo above was taken by amateur photographer and Coast Guard Auxiliary member Michael Brodey, and is used here with his permission. In response to my request, he wrote back, “It just so happens that that particular photo won first place in the Coast Guard Auxiliary’s Public Affairs Photo Contest this year.” Congratulations, Mike; it’s a great photo.

The Dismasting of the Pride of Baltimore II

Posted by John Callender on November 8th, 2005 at 9:04 pm

Pride of Baltimore II before

The Pride of Baltimore II, a reproduction of an 1812-era tall ship, was dismasted on September 5 while competing in a race from England to Spain. The Captain’s log on the ship’s official site describes the event this way:

While sailing in a localized squall, the bowsprit cracked and broke at about half its length. Since there are wire rope stays from the bowsprit that secure the foremast, after five minutes in the rough seas the foremast cracked off three feet above the deck The wire rope stays that secure the foremast are also fixed to the mainmast, so it too broke off under the strain of the sea swells about 25 feet above the deck.

Thankfully, no one was injured in the dismasting. Writing on the web site she shares with photographer T.C. “Bhodi” Sheridan, Erin Doak gave the following description of what happened: Tragedy on the Pride.

On Monday at 3:45 pm, the second of two similiar squalls hit Pride II. The first had heavy rains and wind up to 45 knots that made the boat heel till the water was up to the tops of the bulwarks. We quickly struck the jib topsail, but before the sail was completely down, the squall was over. In mild conditions, we reset the sail and continued on. 10 minutes later, the second squall hit and the boat heeled again. I was standing on the starboard side of the quarter deck when I heard a loud crunch of wood and saw the bowsprit, jibboom, and all its sails go tearing off to port. I have never seen the crew rush onto deck so quickly and we all looked to the captain for orders. He called for the striking of the main and we rushed to comply, but it had just barely hit the deck before we heard the noise that sailors never wish to hear, the slow, loud crunching of a wooden mast. Looking forward and up, the foremast twisted to port and fell. Bhodi and I, along with most of the crew were still on the starboard side, and we pushed back against the rail and aft, watching as it fell along the port side of the ship. It collided with the main and the mast broke 30 feet off the deck, and came down with a crash little more than 6 feet from us.

Pride of Baltimore II after

There are lots of great photos on Bhodi and Erin’s Our Pride Adventures weblog, and information about the ongoing repairs to the ship, which is currently docked in Saint Nazaire, France.

Anyone who’s been dismasted remembers the experience vividly. I was aboard my father’s Columbia 52 Victoria when we were dismasted during the 1978 Santa Barbara Island Race. We were approaching the island on the evening of April 1, beating into a 25-knot wind just after dark, when a fitting at the base of the starboard shrouds failed. I was below at the chart table when it happened, and what I heard was not a slow crunch, but a tremendous bang, as Victoria’s aluminum mast snapped about nine feet off the deck. The bang was accompanied by a lurch that threw me onto the cabin sole, and I jumped up and ran up the companionway steps just in time to see the mast and sails settling into the water on the boat’s port side.

There’s a real sense of shock to losing a mast; a sudden, abrupt transition to a new reality. I’ve often thought that a sailor’s education is largely a matter of learning to cope with forces beyond human control, and a dismasting represents an extreme example of that. It’s the sort of lesson that no one would choose to experience willingly, but that certainly sticks with you afterward.

Dismasting-aftermath photo by T.C. “Bhodi” Sheridan, courtesy of

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