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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Peking

Peking name stern

With Peking set to return to Hamburg later this year, I thought it would be a good time to see her while she was still in New York and open to the public.

I went on the South Street Seaport Museum’s guided tour of the ship.

While Peking is a much larger ship than Falls of Clyde and there are some obvious differences, I still felt quite at home.

I was interested to see a side port open and in use:

Peking side port

Spars (from one of the museum’s schooners), that were stored on board, were being removed through the side port:

spars removed from storage through port

Hatch aft of midships deck:

hatch

Part of the crew accommodations:

crew area

skylight

Main mast:

main mast

Beams and deckhead:

beams deckhead

Some details were all too familiar:

rust missing rivets

View forward looking at fo’c’sle area:

view forward at fo'c'sle

Foremast and buildings beyond:

foremast

Plywood covering deck:

plywood covering deck

View forward from the poop deck:

forward from the poop deck

Double wheel and “coffin” covering the steering gear:

poop deck double wheel

Interesting to see this Port Glasgow manufacturer’s plate on a winch:

manufacturer plate

Seems out of place on a German-built ship, but dates from her days as the British training ship Arethusa.

Peking name starboard

At the bow:

view from pier

Peking bow waterline

Billethead:

billethead

Peking