Taking the Falls of Clyde Home?

Those of you who are interested in large historic sailing ships have no doubt been following what has been going on at South Street Seaport Museum. Wavertree is back from dry dock and looking splendid. (Congratulations to all involved!) Peking is being prepared for her journey back to Germany and a brighter future.

It is quite a different situation here in Hawai‘i. Time is running out for the National Historic Landmark ship, Falls of Clyde.

Lately, I have been quiet regarding the Falls of Clyde. It is not because I do not care. I have been watching and waiting to see what became of the discussions between DOT Harbors and the Friends of Falls of Clyde (FFOC). Frankly, I didn’t have much hope for the future of the ship.

I have been spending my time trying not to be angry and depressed by the whole situation and mentally preparing myself to hear bad news.

Will she be:

• Towed out and scuttled in international waters?
• Sold and broken up for scrap?
• Sunk as an artificial reef or dive site?

Nothing but sad thoughts. Until today. Today brought a glimmer of hope.

Is it possible that there is enough interest in Scotland to bring the Falls back home to the Clyde, should the FFOC’s efforts fail?

A campaign has been started to explore the possibilities, while still supporting the mission of the FFOC. The following is a Facebook post from David O’Neill, who is spearheading the effort:

This is a Glasgow and Clyde Heritage related post, I am looking for volunteers who have an interest in the Clyde Shipbuilding History, who may have skills in P.R., Media and fund raising or crowdfunding. This is a campaign to bring back and restore a Port Glasgow built ship Falls of Clyde. Built at Russell shipyard, now Ferguson Marine.

The ship is currently in Hawaii and was a museum ship up until about 8 years ago, now under threat of being sunk as an artificial reef.

Hollywood actor and Scot, Mr Brian Cox of Bourne Identity, Troy and Planet of the Apes has agreed to be our patron so hopefully this will boost the campaign.

Glasgow Nautical College are also on board and can play a part in her restoration.

Clyde Maritime Trust are also offering help to save this 138 year old ship

We will shortly be launching a crowd funding campaign, so please consider playing a part in this effort, if we succeed the plan is to rebuild her and put her back to work, as a Fairtrade Transport Vessel, Sail powered, carbon free.

Another aim is to include Community Groups and Secondary Schools across Scotland, who can send kids aboard on trips for life changing journeys to fly the flag for Scotland and Glasgows Shipbuilding Heritage.

Please share to all groups and friends you know, this will be a tough challenge, but will be worth it.

I am happy to share David’s message. I spoke with him at length on the phone this afternoon. He is walking into this with eyes wide open. He knows it will be a hard road. I fully support his efforts. I like his energy, enthusiasm, and willingness to explore all channels necessary.

While I would be sad to see the Falls leave Hawai‘i, to have her return to Scotland would be pono, since the state does not seem to care about supporting her as an important part of local maritime history.

There is hope.

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Change is Needed – Comments on the Latest from the Friends of Falls of Clyde

The following is a message that was recently posted on Facebook by Bruce McEwan, the president of the Friends of Falls of Clyde (FFOC):

“Friends of Falls of Clyde met with the Deputy Director of Harbors Division today. He wants a commitment as to when we will complete our fundraiser for the drydock cost of $1.5 million. We have asked for the year 2016 to complete our fundraiser and get the ship into drydock. He is taking our request ‘under advisement,’ but we will not know the exact timing until we hear from him. The message is clear, we MUST meet our goal as soon as possible. While we have grant applications pending and some to submit, we need to show that we have grassroot support from individual donors. Supporters need to donate now to show that this is an achievable and worthwhile goal. Go to Indiegogo or directly to our website ate [sic] http://www.friendsoffallsofclyde.org.”

Those of you who follow my blog, know of my past involvement with the FFOC and understand how much I love the ship and want to see her restored to her former glory. It’s been about a year since I resigned from the FFOC board and it has been an interesting (and distressing/depressing) time as an outsider looking in.

Mr. McEwan says the “message is clear.” Indeed, it is. The FFOC board has not learned from past missteps and continues to tread the same path.

A project on the scale of preserving and ultimately restoring the Falls of Clyde takes time, commitment, and passion. Has the FFOC board been doing all it can?

Supporters are being called on to step up. What are the board members doing to step up their game? Where is their presence in the sailing ship/historic ship communities? What are they doing to network and to learn what it takes to dry dock a ship like Falls of Clyde, given the fact that NONE of them have the practical experience needed?* What is the board doing to gain more local waterfront support?

There appears to be no PR or marketing plan. What effort is there to really win grassroots support? How is the new Indiegogo campaign going to be different from the last one? What is the compelling message that will inspire people to reach into their pockets, AGAIN, to give hard earned money to the organization? How is the call for action being spread outside of Facebook and the organization website? Social media can be a powerful tool if used correctly.

The FFOC needs to do a better job of reaching out and informing people. Don’t assume that the general public knows what is happening. I run into people on the waterfront who ask me what is going on and get emails and other forms of e-messages from folks looking for more information.

Why is there no steady/weekly presence on the ship? People have commented to me that they never see anyone doing any work on board the ship. I have to agree. I am at the harbor on a weekly basis, and rarely see anyone. Basic maintenance is important. More effort should be made to do it. After I left the organization, a board member bragged to me that they had a number of volunteers lined up? Where are they? If the board members can’t be bothered to spare time for the ship, how can they ask others to do the same? Board members, how much of a priority is the ship in your lives?

There are technical issues that still haven’t been addressed. Also, it would be a good idea to learn how to do the basic technical stuff and not rely on others. Just saying.

There are two words that come to mind that describe the current board. I won’t say them at this point. However, I will say that it is painfully obvious that it is time for fresh blood, new ideas, and people who are willing and able to sacrifice time and put in the effort to save the ship.

Time is running out.

(I feel like a broken record.)

*They should be reaching out to the folks at South Street Seaport and scheduling a visit to observe the work being done on Wavertree.

Falls of Clyde Status

Well. August has come and gone.

I have received messages and emails asking what is going on with the Falls of Clyde.

Is no news good news? Are the (serious) concerns of DOT Harbors being addressed by the Friends of Falls of Clyde?

There is no cohesive marketing strategy, no serious fundraising effort…

The future looks bleak.