I’m offering to give away a Benjamin Franklin, or a half dozen.  And I’ll do it before May Day!!   See the end of the post.

The foto below–never posted here before–comes from 2005 and shows “the schooners,”  a handsome Pioneer (1885) and elegant Lettie G. Howard (1893), 244 years of sailing between them.    On a personal note, I logged in over 600 hours as a volunteer on these two boats as well as on W. O. Decker between 2004–2006.  That means winter maintenance as well as summer sailing.

Such nautical treasures are these vessels (left to right:  Marion M, Wavertree, W. O. Decker, and Peking) and so many fine folks, volunteers as well as professional crew, did I meet during this time . .  that

current developments at that place created as South Street Seaport break my heart and then make me angry.

When word on the street says Museum administration is looking to  “send its working ships to ports elsewhere for long-term storage” and otherwise declining comment on the crumbling state of affairs, I hope to hear that these same administrators abdicate their positions.  These vessels are no white elephants.  These are no “floating paperweights.”

During my years as an active volunteer, I knew this place could be much more than a red barn with seven masts sticking up above it.

Conditions of giving away my Benjamins:  current Museum president Mary Pelzer resign effective immediately and  a committee focused on the vessels be installed forthwith.  And, I’d like 1000 people (former volunteers, boat fans, former professional crew members, just plain fans of these vessels, or friends and friends of friends of any of the above)  to pledge at least a Benjamin each to be deposited with a trustworthy  and maricentric steward by May 1, 2011.   This could be the “seaport spring.”  Let’s not let this go to May Day.

See the selection below from yesterday’s New York Post.   Here’s info on a “Save our Ships” meeting for April 28.   All fotos above by Will Van Dorp.

“Abandoning ships: City’s old vessels lost in fog of debt, neglect,” New York Post, April 25. “Rotting wood covers their decks, their masts are flaked with rust, and their hulls are corroding.
New York’s last tall ships — once-proud symbols of the Big Apple’s rise to greatness — are in a shameful state of disrepair as the museum that’s supposed to care for them sinks in a Bermuda Triangle of debt and bad management. Seaport Museum New York has closed its landside galleries and is looking to send its working ships to ports elsewhere for long-term storage.
The museum’s stationary ships — Peking, one of the biggest sailing ships ever built, Wavertree, a three-masted cargo ship, and Ambrose, a lightship that a century ago guided sailors into New York harbor — face an unknown fate. ‘Those ships, which are emblematic of our heritage on the waterfront, are almost being left to rot,’ said Roland Lewis, president of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, a coalition of nonprofit groups. . . . The museum declined comment, except to say it is ‘exploring various options’ to maintain its vessels.”
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