"Of all national assets, archives are the most precious:
they are the gift of one generation to another,
and the extent of our care of them marks the
extent of our civilization." Arthur Doughty.

About Us

My photo
San Juan Islands, Washington State, United States
A society formed in 2009 for the purpose of collecting, preserving, celebrating, and disseminating the maritime history of the San Juan Islands and northern Puget Sound area. Check this log for tales from out-of-print publications as well as from members and friends. There are circa 500, often long entries, on a broad range of maritime topics; there are search aids at the bottom of the log. Please ask for permission to use any photo posted on this site. Thank you.

19 November 2014

❖ STAR OF INDIA ❖ (ex-EUTERPE) Museum Ship

San Diego, CA.
Photo  from the archives of  S.P.H.S.
Click to enlarge.
"The STAR OF INDIA is the world's second oldest active sailing ship. She began her life on the stocks at Ramsey Shipyard in the Isle of Man in 1863, built by Gibson, McDonald and Arnold. Iron ships were experiments of sorts then, with most vessels still being built of wood. Within five months of laying her keel, the ship was launched into her element, 14 November. She bore the name EUTERPE, after the Greek muse of music and poetry.
      EUTERPE was a full-rigged ship and would remain so until 1901, when the Alaska Packers Association rigged her down to a barque, her present rig. She began her sailing life with two near-disastrous voyages to India. On her first trip she suffered a collision and a mutiny. On her second trip, a cyclone caught EUTERPE in the Bay of Bengal, and with her topmasts cut away, she barely made port. Shortly afterward, her first captain, William John Storry, died on board and was buried at sea.
      After such a hard luck beginning, EUTERPE settled down and made four more voyages to India as a cargo ship. In 1871 she was purchased by the Shaw Savill line of London and embarked on a quarter century of hauling emigrants to New Zealand, sometimes also touching Australia, California and Chile. She made 21 circumnavigations in this service, some of them lasting up to a year. A baby was born on one of those trips en route to New Zealand and was given the middle name Euterpe. It was rugged voyaging, with the little iron ship battling through terrific gales, 'laboring and rolling in a most distressing manner,' according to her log.
      The life aboard was especially hard on the emigrants cooped up in her 'tween deck, fed a diet of hardtack and salt junk, subject to mal-de-mer and a host of other ills. It is astonishing that their death rate was so low. They were a tough lot, however, drawn from the working classes of England, Ireland and Scotland, and most went on to prosper in New Zealand."
Above text from the San Diego Maritime Museum.
Original photo from
Clara Abrahamsen, daughter of Hans Abrahamsen.
The family late of Doe Bay, Orcas Island, WA.
From the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

Tonnage: 1,318  g. tons, 1,247 Net tons 
 205' LWL, 278' sparred L x 35' x 22' (fully loaded)
Sail plan: full-rigged ship 1863-1901
                Barque (1901- )
Registered in the US: 1900.
Name change: 1906.
Last sail from San Francisco to Bristol Bay, AK: 1923.
1926: STAR OF INDIA was sold to the Zoological Society of San Diego, CA, to be the centerpiece of a planned museum and aquarium. It was not until 1957 that restoration began, leaving off the idea of an aquarium. Alan Villiers, a windjammer captain and well-known author came from Europe to San Diego on a lecture tour.
Captain Alan Villiers (1903-1982)
One of the most famous modern day historians,
seen here commanding the MAYFLOWER II,
a replica, sailing from London to the USA in 1957.

He made at least three trips to Seattle and was 
awarded Honorary Membership in the 
Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society.
More on this blue water sailor another day.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

      Seeing STAR OF INDIA decaying in the harbor, he publicized the situation and inspired a group of citizens to form the 'Star of India Auxiliary' in 1959, to buy the vessel for $9,000 and support a restoration. Progress was still slow, but in 1976, STAR finally put to sea again. She houses exhibits for the Maritime Museum of San Diego, is kept fully seaworthy, and sails at least once a year. With the many other ships now in the Museum, she hosts frequent docent-led school tours for over 6,000 children a year, as well as a Living History Program in which students 'step back in time' and are immersed in history and teamwork activities during overnight visits.
      The 1863 STAR OF INDIA is the fourth oldest ship afloat in the US, after the 1797 USS CONSTITUTION, the 1841 CHARLES W. MORGAN, and the 1854 USS CONSTELLATION. 
Unlike many preserved or restored vessels, her hull, cabins and equipment are nearly 100% original.

1961:  "I graduated from high school and my father a State Park Ranger at Half Moon Bay, and an associate of Harry Dring got me a job at the "Old Ships Museum". I drove up in my 52 Chevy 4-door with my sea bag and was shown to bunk in the fo'c's'le of the C A THAYER. The THAYER, the WAMAPA and the EUREKA were in the Oakland Estuary. A couple of working tugs and the mouldering Ferryboat San Leandro on one side and a yacht harbor on the other. The memory is still vivid of rising from my historic bunk, and making coffee alone on the hotplate in the galley, before using the sea suction in the foggy sunrise to hose off all the freshwater dew from overnight to protect her old hull from rot. I met Dickerhoff and a number of other riggers, and 'gophered' for them as they were building the new lower rigging for the STAR OF INDIA which was being restored in San Diego. They strung up the cables on the main car deck of the Ferryboat EUREKA and tensioned them between posts. Those guys could make a pot of coffee! The smell of Stockholm Tar and oakum, and the spin of the mallet was constant for weeks as they wormed and served all that rigging. 20 years later, after the Marines, and college and a little life, I found Harry the king of his realm in the southern wheelhouse of the EUREKA in the new State Park at the foot of Hyde St. in SF. I rapped on the door. Harry, looking surprisingly fit, his pipe still firmly between his teeth, bid me enter. "Remember me?", I said. "Never knew a kid to have more tire trouble." was his immediate response, and I was mortified that all he could remember of me was my teen-aged lies to explain tardiness for work. Now, 56 year later, and in kidney failure, I try not dwell on the old "skipper" hospitalizing me by ordering me into the hold of the WAMAPA with a Hudson Sprayer full of pentachlorophenol until the dioxin got me. Or, the weeks I spend burning and bubbling a 1/4' of lead paint and scraping it off the bulkheads of that delightful little saloon on the same ship. Or, stripping the 1915 insulation off the steam pipes in the engine room and wrapping the dusty pipes in strips of burlap, then painted muslin to look like the original. Asbestos? You bet. Masks? You jest. I'm not too upset. I've got some great stories. P. L. Sims 

1966: She became a California Historical Landmark and a United States National Historic Landmark.
Location: San Diego Maritime Museum, San Diego, CA., within the Port of San Diego tide lands. This location is slightly west of downtown San Diego, CA.
Captain Ken Reynard
One of the main helpers on the restoration project.
Seen here on deck of the restored 205' 
5 February 1973, 
San Diego, CA.

Original photo by Bruce Cox, from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
Click image to enlarge.


      STAR OF INDIA has become one of the landmark ships in San Diego's Harbor. 
For some behind the scenes talk and history of this great San Diego preservation team click here
A Link to San Juan County:
Rigger Hans Abrahamsen (1876-1956)
Moved to Doe Bay in 1907.

      Hans Martin Abrahamsen (1876-1956) was born in Larvik, Norway. He started out as a cabin boy at age 9 when he began his sailing ventures and worked his way up to the working role of an expert rigger. The fourth vessel on which he served was the EUTERPE in 1899, from Australia for Honolulu and from there to Port Townsend. He sailed on the west coast of the US for several years. and sailed on another well-known vessel, the KAIULANI. Hans came ashore to Ballard for a short time before he married and settled at Doe Bay, Orcas Island, WA. Hans and his Swedish wife farmed, raised their four children, and lived out their lives on Orcas. 
      Sons Al and Harry both worked on the water; some of Al Abrahamsen's work was connected to hardhat diving for salvage from the much publicized wreck of the DIAMOND KNOT, posted here.
Copy of a document from the Hans Abrahamsen family.
Note signature of the highly regarded author/ WA. historian,
 serving as the Hawaiian Consul.
Copy in the archives of the S.P.H.S.

Click to enlarge.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Archived Log Entries