Wavertree — Stepping the Final Mast Before Returning to South Street Seaport


Photo : John Wisniewski

Forty six years ago yesterday, the  full-rigged iron sailing ship Wavertree, arrived in South Street Seaport after being towed from Argentina. The 1889 built windjammer had languished as a sand barge in Argentina for decades, before being purchased and partially restored by the South Street Seaport Museum.  In May of last year, the ship was moved to Caddell’s Drydock in Staten Island to undergoing a major $13 million restoration and refurbishment.

Next Tuesday, the Wavertree‘s third and final mast will be stepped. From the Seaport Press release: The event begins at Noon on Tuesday, August 16th, 2016 and culminates in a coin-placing ceremony at 1pm. Following maritime tradition, a coin is placed at the base of the mast for good luck. The mast is then “stepped” or installed. In attendance at the August 16th ceremony will be Seaport Museum co-founder Norma Stanford, Peter and Norma Stanford’s three grandchildren, and Joan Davidson, a former Seaport Museum trustee. Before the mast is stepped, an 1885 Maundy Fourpence coin will be placed at the base of the mizzenmast by Joan Davidson and Peter and Norma Stanford’s grandchildren.

The Wavertree will return to Pier 16 at the South Street Seaport Museum on Saturday, September 24th.  A celebration of her return will be held from 3-5 pm.

Once she has returned to her berth, restoration of the rigging and deck houses will continue.  The mutli-year goal is to restore the ship to sailing condition.

Wavertree was built at Southampton, England in 1885 for R.W. Leyland & Company of Liverpool, one of the last large sailing ships built of wrought iron. Today, she is the largest afloat. Wavertree was first employed to carry jute, used in making rope and burlap bags, between eastern India (now Bangladesh) and Scotland. When less than two years old she entered the tramp trades, taking cargoes anywhere in the world she could find them.

After sailing for a quarter century, she limped into the Falkland Islands in December 1910, having been dismasted off Cape Horn. Rather then re-rigging her, her owners sold her for use as a floating warehouse at Punta Arenas, Chile. She was converted into a sand barge at Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1947, and was acquired by South Street Seaport Museum in 1968.

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