Ship Moot – 17 February

What could be better than a combination of friends and ships?

My friend and I arrived at the SFMNHP visitor center via a shuttle from the airport. We were going to take public transport, but the shuttle turned out to be a good idea.

We were a bit early, so we wandered off down the street toward Fishermans Wharf.

The famous sign:

Fishermans Wharf sign

Friendly Western gull (Larus occidentalis):

Western gull

We met up with a friend who drove into town to meet us and Brush. While waiting for Brush, we decided to have a look at the USS Pampanito at Pier 45. Submarines aren’t really my thing, but it was interesting as a new experience.

We were just about done looking at Pampanito, when I got a call from Brush. It was about time for lunch, so we all decided to have something to eat before going to see the ships at Hyde Street Pier.

Hyde St Pier sign

I was eager to go aboard Balclutha. I had seen her 10 years ago during a previous visit to San Francisco, but had not gone aboard her or any of the other ships. Along with FOC, she is one of the five Clyde-built sailing ships left in the world (the other three being Glenlee, Moshulu and Pommern). She is similar in size to FOC, but with three masts and a steel hull. Like FOC and Star of India, Balclutha also sailed under the Hawaiian flag at one point in her career.


Having Brush there to show us around the ship was awesome. The tour started at the fo’c’sle and moved on from there.

View aft from the fo’c’sle head:

Balclutha view aft

We were standing on the poop deck, when a peregrine falcon (Falco peregrines) appeared. The falcon flew around, hovered over the weather deck, and eventually landed on the rigging.

peregrine falcon

A young boy asked where the ship’s guns were. Brush told him that Balclutha was a merchant vessel and didn’t carry guns. I was amused by the boy’s reply. He pointed out that the ship should have guns to protect the cargo.

While we were examining the chart house, one of the other visitors popped in and let Brush know that there was a dead pigeon on the weather deck.

decapitated pigeon

Yeah, it was gross. Our friend, the falcon, had decapitated it.

A small crowd gathered around the pigeon before Brush picked it up and put it in a bag:

Brush with dead pigeon

It was interesting to note the similarities and differences between FOC, Star of India, and Balclutha.

Salon detail:

Balclutha salon panel detail

Stern loading ports:

Balclutha loading ports

Frames with rust stains:

Balclutha rust stains

Side port:

Balclutha side port

Manufacturer’s mark on beam:

Balclutha mark

COATS = Coats Iron Works in Coatbridge, Scotland?

Alaska Packers’ Association (APA) house flag on porthole cover:

Alaska Packers house flag

The Star of India also had APA porthole covers, but the ones I saw were covered over with white paint:

Alaska Packers house flag SOI

Perhaps the most interesting part of the tour was getting to see the hold. On Balclutha, it’s a working space. It’s something we don’t have on FOC due to her tanker configuration—the only readily accessible area, being the pump room.

Balclutha working hold

Balclutha hold

Of special interest was the ballast system:

Balclutha ballast

FOC has fresh water ballast (in her tanks). This is a problem, which we have to solve. Unfortunately, we can’t put in large blocks like those on Balclutha because we are limited by what can fit down the hatches to the tanks.

Balclutha’s rudder:

Balclutha rudder

I could have lingered all day on board Balclutha, but it was getting late and we had to leave.


2 comments on “Ship Moot – 17 February

  1. Buck says:

    What a great documentary of Balclutha!

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