Friday, December 04, 2009

Harvey Gamage

December 4, 2009
Will Tuthill, Newport, RI:

Sometimes bad weather leads to good things. The gnarly low pressure system that sucked warm wet air from the Gulf of Mexico all the way into the Continental Polar regions of Central Quebec made for some scary offshore conditions Thursday in R.I.

Sixty mph winds, triple overhead surf, and moon tides combined to over wash roads, down trees and flood streets. The 1974 coasting schooner Harvey Gamage sought shelter in Newport, and gave me a story for my weekly column in the Newport Daily News.

I spent nearly a year of my life on this boat and it was a sentimental reunion to go aboard and see the masts that I had "slushed" as a teenager at the Andros Island atoll in the Bahamas. The memories flooded back, and when I went home to my shop, I took extra special notice of the turning blocks left over from the coasting schooner owned by my great, great grandfather in the 1860s.

They are off on Friday - slow as ever - and awful to windward. No wonder they called it "Down East". Cool as they are, those things can't go to weather.

BOAT: Harvey Gamage
OWNER: Ocean Classroom Foundation
DESIGNER: Harvey Gamage
BUILDER: Harvey Gamage, South Bristol, ME
YEAR: 1974
LENGTH: 131 feet [40 meters]
HULL: Southern Yellow Pine over Oak
Based in South Bristol, Maine, Harvey Gamage was the last of the great builders of New England coasting schooners. Used as bulk transport vessels, these boats laid the very basis of civilization, as we know it today, from Maine to the Caribbean. Everything from Goddard & Townsend furniture made in Newport, to rum, grain, molasses, and slaves from up and down the coast moved on coasting schooners.

For over three decades, the last boat built by Harvey Gamage has been educating students and changing lives. Ocean Classrooms in collaboration with the University of Maine, offers a Seamester a semester of college credits taught at sea, aboard Harvey Gamage - inspiring and awakening students while providing real college credits.

Last week, en route to the Caribbean, the Gamage encountered a bad storm. Captain & crew radioed into Newport seeking shelter. The good folks at Sail Newport extended a warm welcome, free dockage and safety from the storm.

Securely tied to the Alofsin Pier, the sailors aboard Gamage had a chance to reflect upon the traditions of the sea, and the many coasting schooners that visited Newport in centuries past.

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At 12:12 PM, Anonymous Paul H. said...

Nice to learn the history of this vessel. It must have been a great expirence.

At 1:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Harvey Gamage has served students well over many years. A correction: I happen to know the designer was the firm of McCurdy and Rhodes.


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