Sail tanker Falls of Clyde sold and moved; to be saved?
- Historic Ship Stays Afloat, for Now
The Falls of Clyde, an 1878 cargo ship, at its slip in Honolulu. It has been a National Historic Landmark since 1989, but was nearly sunk offshore by the museum that owned it.
Photo: <img src= http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/10/19/us/ship650.jpg >
New York Times
By CHRISTOPHER PALA
The New York Times
October 19, 2008
HONOLULU While Hawaii's surf-loving chiefs ruled from Waikiki because they liked its steady waves and idyllic weather, European and American ships turned nearby Honolulu Harbor into a forest of masts, spawning a mariner's village that eventually became the Pacific archipelago's capital.
The ship carrying the last of those masts four to be exact was sold recently for a symbolic dollar to a group of cash-strapped enthusiasts who hope to save that 266-foot square-rigger, the Falls of Clyde.
Next month, the ship, built in Scotland in 1878, is to leave the slip it has occupied for 25 years near the landmark Aloha Tower and Honolulu's cruise ship terminal. Its destination, and whether the group, the Friends of the Falls of Clyde, which is starting out with just $35,000, will find the millions needed to repair her, remains in doubt.
It is the second time the Falls of Clyde has been saved, at least temporarily, from an abyssal grave.
For more than a year, its owner, the Bishop Museum, had planned to sink the ship offshore. The museum, Hawaii's largest, said that more than $30 million was needed to restore the ship "to her former glory."
But the museum itself has been accused of incompetence and dishonesty in its stewardship of the vessel, a National Historic Landmark since 1989.
"Bishop has utterly failed in its mission as a museum, which is to preserve what's been entrusted to it," said Jeanie Ainlay, 73, who took school groups on tours of the Falls of Clyde for 20 years and is one of the museum's most vocal critics. "I am convinced they have seriously violated the guidelines of the American Association of Museums by simply allowing her to rot."
From 1899 to 1922, the Falls of Clyde, named after an upstream waterfall in the river that runs through Glasgow, where the ship was built, was based in Honolulu for the Matson shipping line. It hauled molasses to California and returned with kerosene to fire, among other things, the islands' sugar mills.
"She was a handy ship," Fred Klebingat, a former chief mate was quoted as saying in "The Indestructible Square Rigger," published in 2004 by Bishop Museum Press. "In the two years I was in the vessel, I never saw a ship which could keep up with her."
But steam ships were cheaper and more reliable, and so in 1922 she was dismasted and sent to Alaska, where she became a floating fuel dock. In 1963, as she was about to be sunk to serve as a breakwater, another group of enthusiasts in Hawaii had her towed back to Honolulu and, over the next two decades, almost fully restored.
In 1984, a new maritime museum, the Hawaii Maritime center, acquired the Falls, which was docked next door, but the center foundered financially. In 1994, the Bishop Museum reluctantly took over the center and the ship. One of the Falls's chief supporters, Robert Pfeiffer, then the chief executive of the company that owns today's Matson Navigation Company, set up a half-million-dollar endowment for the care of the Falls.
But over the next 14 years, the Bishop Museum spent little more than the endowment's annual income of about $50,000 on the ship, according to a former museum official who would not be identified because he did not want to appear critical of the Bishop's present management.
Though it is customary to place a ship in dry dock every five years to inspect and repair the hull, the museum did not do so with the Falls of Clyde, which was last in dry dock in 1987. Nor did it install zinc anodes, at a cost of a few thousand dollars a year, which would have prevented the hull from decaying.
In 2001, Senator Daniel Inouye, a Democrat, announced a Congressional earmark of $300,000 to preserve the Falls, and Mr. Pfeiffer, who died in 2003, contributed a personal matching grant of $300,000.
Without dry-docking the ship, the museum commissioned a preservation plan that called for some $618,000 in repairs, including sandblasting the inside of the hull and fixing the rigging, the deck and the mooring system.
Lynn Cullivan, management analyst for the San Francisco Maritime Historic Park, which cares for half a dozen National Historic Landmark vessels, criticized that process.
"If you get a ship that hasn't been dry-docked in a long time, it would be standard maritime museum practice to dry-dock it first and identify the problems that need to be addressed," Mr. Cullivan said. "Then you can start looking for the funding to take care of them."
The preservation plan's author, Dorian Travers, said he did not think dry-docking was necessary. Although the museum said in a press release that the $600,000 was used for "a massive renovation and repair project" to "stabilize, restore and maintain the Falls of Clyde," Mr. Travers said only the sandblasting, budgeted at $346,604, was performed.
An examination of the Maritime Center tax returns shows that $345,732 was paid to the sandblasting company, Consolidated Painting, over three years ending in June 2007.
That year, the Bishop Museum hired Joseph Lombardi, a Massachusetts-based marine surveyor experienced in historic ships, to examine the Falls of Clyde. In a series of interviews on and off the ship this month, Mr. Lombardi said that there was no evidence that any of the work detailed in the preservation plan was performed, beyond the sandblasting, which he called "an abomination" that "did more harm than good," leaving holes in the weakened hull that had to be patched.
He also noted that the museum bought but did not install anticorrosion equipment that would have preserved the hull; that was budgeted at $4,070. The rigging, for which $144,100 in repairs was budgeted, was left to deteriorate, creating a hazard that led to the abrupt closure of the ship to visitors in February 2007, Mr. Lombardi said.
In an interview, the museum's chief operating officer, Blair Collis, at first denied that $600,000 had been allotted for the ship's preservation, then he insisted that all of it had been spent. Mr. Collis said that the owner of Consolidated Painting, Joseph Ferrara, "told me he spent close to $1 million on that project, but we only paid him around $600,000."
But in a telephone interview from Arizona, where he was vacationing, Mr. Ferrara recalled he was paid about $350,000 for the job. He also strongly denied that his workers had damaged the 130-year-old hull.
Representative Corinne Ching was the only member of the Hawaii legislature to attend the ceremony in which the Falls of Clyde was handed over to the group now entrusted with its care.
"If the museum didn't spend all the money on the ship," said Ms. Ching, founder of the legislature's Heritage Caucus, "then they should give it to the new owners."For the Scottish waterfalls and wildlife reserve, see Falls of Clyde (waterfalls) ... a b "FALLS OF CLYDE (Sailing Oil Tanker)". National Historic Landmark ...en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falls_of_Clyde - CachedThe Falls of Clyde is the collective name of four linn (Scots: waterfalls) on ... Corra Linn is the highest, with a fall of 90 feet. ...en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falls_of_Clyde_ (waterfalls) - CachedThe 1878 four-masted ship Falls of Clyde is a floating exhibit moored in Honolulu harbor. ... FALLS OF CLYDE AS BUILT AND MODIFIED ...www.nps.gov/history/maritime/nhl/falls.htm - CachedSave The Falls Of Clyde ... The Falls of Clyde will be sunk unless rescue arrives soon! ... Falls of Clyde is the only surviving iron-hulled, four-masted full ...www.savethefallsofclyde.com/page2.htm - 88k - CachedThe Falls of Clyde is the only surviving fully-rigged, four-masted sailing ship ... The Falls of Clyde is currently located in the Honolulu Harbor and is part of ...www.hawaiiweb.com/oahu/sites_to_see/falls_of_clyde.htm - Cached... dollars a year to care for it, but The Falls of Clyde has fallen into ... The Falls of Clyde is falling apart, and Collis sees only one way to save it. ...kgmb9.com/main/content/view/4297/40 - 62k - CachedHONOLULU -- Crews will begin dismantling the Falls of Clyde to make repairs. ... Billy Graham Hospitalized After Fall At Home. PhotoVote ...www.kitv.com/news/16701626/ detail.html?rss=hon&psp=news - 60k - CachedFalling into place. After nearly a year on the brink, Falls of Clyde appears saved ... How the elegant Falls of Clyde schooner was rescued in extremis last week from ...honoluluweekly.com/feature/2008/09/ falling-into-place - CachedThe Falls of Clyde has been saved again. ... The Falls of Clyde was saved ... The Falls of Clyde will remain at Honolulu Harbor for at least 90 more days, ...honoluluadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/ article?AID=/20080930/.../RSS02 - 57k - Cached
- Phelps,My good friend, the late Jack Dickerhoff ,re rigged the Falls Of Clyde years ago. I helped him re rig the Balclutha back around 1957. I knew Mr Pfeiffer(Matson Navigation Company Chairman of the Board Emeritus), and sailed in the Matson ship RJ Pfeiffer named for him. As a Mate in a Matson ship Mr. Pfeiffer would call us on the radio and chat as he flew over us in his airplane..The Falls of Clyde is not a ship, but a four masted Bark(barque).Captain KC O'Brien, Master sail, steam and motor vessels upon oceansMasters,Mates & Pilots, ILA, AFL-CIO (ret)
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From: "Pacific Merchant Marine Council, NLUS" <pmmc@...>Historic Ship Stays Afloat, for Now