The trip to NYC technically began well over a year ago, when planning started in earnest. Eventually, through lots of meetings and lots of contacts, we found that getting a pier in NYC was going to be difficult. Most piers have not been maintained and are silted in. Many piers that already contain historic ships are actually silted in also, leaving ships sitting in mud. Finally we were able to settle on Pier 36 (even though there was a fee involved, and the location was certainly NOT the best) as our choices were limited. As much as the location was 'not the best', it actually was a really cool location. Let us explain: Pier 36, the banana pier is behind basketball city, just a few blocks from Chinatown. But even taxi and uber drivers were challenged to get to 'pier 36', as it seems that its not a big location for anyone. Ever. But at the same time... take a look at this view.
Now that we've given you a teaser of some NYC pictures, let's back up a bit. The adventure started on September 8th, when crew members making the trip were required to be on the ship. A lot of work needed to be done which included the handing out of the 'gumby suits', fire drills and abandon ship drills. Last minute large scale securing of equipment was also handled and cleaning of the ship for our time in NYC also occurred when there was down time, especially for those not sitting watches.
At around 1930 the ship left Clinton Street in Baltimore, headed to the East River in Manhattan. We had lots of crew members and families seeing us off.
Our first overnight was a bit uneventful with the watches going smoothly, and we made good time. Friday the 9th of September was a long day at sea. There was plenty of work that needed to be done, including putting masts into cradles and a scheduled burial at sea. And we had a great sunrise and sunset in the same day though half of it was cloudy and drab, and very hot.
We had a burial at sea for 11 past members of Project Liberty Ship. It's been a while since we had been off shore and met the federal requirements for burials at sea, so we took advantage of this day. Planned by the ships Chaplain and organized by the naval armed guard reenactors, it was a wonderful ceremony and was also videotaped so that copies could be sent to families.
We ended up making really good speed with the wind at our back for the first part of our trip and had to slow down at times. Friday was horribly hot (in the 90's) and though we'd been making good time in the morning, by the afternoon we needed to slow down, and the sun that had been absent, came out. We were overcome with what was termed 'The Desperate Houseflies of New Jersey". Somewhere, off the coast of Jersey, we were found by flies looking for land, perhaps. Either way, they were bitey, and relentless and the lack of wind made them worse. There is not much in the way of comfort on a 74 year old Liberty Ship, so crew members were doing what they could to stay cool, like eating lots of ice cream and bringing hammocks out on the hatches to sleep.
Clearly, this trip was way too long to be explained in one weekly blog. More to come next week.
On a side note, now that we are back home in Baltimore and things have relaxed a bit, things had to go and get hectic again. Our landlords (the owners of Pier One on Clinton Street) have begun demolition of the pier. This is at least a 6 month endeavor and we were moved over to another pier on Clinton Street. Though this is extremely generous, it is also a secured pier, and we must abide by the security plan, which does not make visitation an easy operation. Currently, the ship is closed to the public and this may be for as little as a couple of months or for the duration of our stay here. Stay tuned for more info. Until our blog next week where we continue with our NYC trip, have a great week.
Project Liberty Ship, Inc is a 501(c)3 non-profit, all volunteer organization engaged in the preservation and operation of the historic ship JOHN W. BROWN as a living memorial museum. Gifts to Project Liberty Ship are tax deductible.