For Immediate Release
Sailing on the Fringes of History to an Historic
by Capt Paul DeGaeta
The 208 gross ton sailing schooner slid down the
ways at Bethel, Delaware in April of 1900. She was
christened the "Edwin and Maud" after her
first owner, Captain, R.E. Riggen's, two children.
The vessel was built to haul cargo up and down the
Eastern seaboard and Capt. Riggen hoped she could
survive the sea for 15 years. If so he would be able
to make an adequate living for his family and keep
the vessel's shareholders happy as well.
The 170 foot long schooner was built of Georgia pine and Delaware oak. Her
three Douglas Fir spars reaching eight stories towards the heavens carried
7,500 square feet of canvas. Four stout sailors provided the muscle required
to make her dance in a stiff breeze. Her gaff rig, a uniquely American contribution
to the development of sail, was typical of the thousands of coastal cargo schooners
plying the American coastline in her day.
A young country experiencing the growing pains of the industrial revolution
would soon thoughtlessly discard wind driven vessels by the droves as the Golden
Age of Sail was replaced by the era of steam and steel. Many once proud American
sailing ships were driven up on a desolate mud bank to suffer an inglorious
end. As Edwin and Maud was approaching such a fate, Europe exploded into the
First World War and a curious thing happened; cargo freight rates skyrocketed
Capt. Riggen suggested to the schooner's shareholders that it might be wise
to refurbish the vessel and take advantage of the inflated cargo hauling bonanza.
When they agreed, the Edwin and Maud had a new lease on life which allowed
her to continue sailing with cargo right into the Great Depression. She became
an unusual sight on waterfronts fast filling with steam powered vessels. The
gallant old sailing vessel eventually reached the point where her owners could
no longer justify the repairs on such an antiquated cargo ship.
Once again, the impending winds of a World War would intervene to effect her
course in history. World War II had the same impact on freight rates that the
previous war had. Her owners saw another opportunity, acted upon it and the
schooner received the work she so desperately needed to keep sailing and hauling
cargo. Sailing ships, like the Edwin and Maud, were also used for Coastal U-Boat
patrol. As World War II ended many of the old ships like the 5-masted Gardner
Deering, abandoned and aground across from Castine, Maine, were set ablaze
in celebration at the news of VJ Day.
World War II was the last hurrah for cargo carrying sailing ships. A country
which could produce a Liberty Ship in a months time had little need for old
sailing vessels after the early desperate days of the war. Things looked very
bleak for the Edwin and Maud. She was down, but as fate would have it, not
Capt. H.E.Knust was a visionary who thought he might be able to make money
by hauling vacationers around the Chesapeake Bay on an old sailing ship. He
purchased the schooner in 1945 and converted her cargo hold to cabins, transforming
Edwin and Maud into a "Dude Cruiser" and rescuing her from certain
In 1954, Knust sold her to a group from Maine headed by Captain Frederick "Boyd" Guild
who eventually purchased her outright from the group and renamed her "Victory
Chimes" after a Canadian Coastal schooner that was christened on Armistice
day in 1918. The name originated from the popular theme "Victory Chimes
throughout the land!" trumpeting the news that "The Great War of
Civilization" was over. Ironically, it was WW I that gave the schooner
her first chance at longevity. Guild would provide his part in the chain by
refurbishing and sailing the Victory Chimes for the next 30 years as the "Queen
of the American Windjammers".
Today the 98 year old schooner remains the last 3-masted American built representative
from the Golden Age of Sail still sailing. Her cargo is now passengers, rather
than lumber or war time freight. She is back sailing the Windjammer trade on
the pristine waters of Penobscot Bay, Maine.
On September 26th, 1997, as is customary aboard the vessel, several passengers
who were veterans were asked to assist in raising the American ensign during "colors" at
0800 hours. Frank DuBeau, an Air Force Korean War Veteran, Ken Hardagree, who
served in the Marine Corps and fellow Leatherneck, Ed Riggen, who is a descendant
of the schooners first owner/captain participated in the ceremony. On that
day the National Parks Service notified the State of Maine that the schooner
Victory Chimes had been bestowed with the official designation of National
Historic Landmark. Victory Chimes now becomes only the 127th American vessel
so designated because of the role in which they played in our Coastal and Maritime
Senator Olympia Snow (R-Maine) said "Kip Files and Paul DeGaeta, of the
Victory Chimes, can take tremendous pride in this designation. These Schooners,
and other Windjammers plying the Maine coast, are constant reminders of Maine's
proud seafaring tradition, and we can celebrate that tradition with today's
Editors note: As the caretakers of this vessel, we are indeed proud of the
schooners history, the men who saw fit to save her (Capt. R.E.Riggen, Capt."Boyd" Guild, "Giffy" Full
and Thomas Monaghan), and those who's support have allowed her to keep sailing.
Being designated as a National Historic Landmark while under our watch as caretakers
is especially gratifying. The Victory Chimes has served her owners well. She
continues to serve her country by remaining one of the last working examples
of her breed. The large wind driven sailing vessels from a once mighty merchant
fleet that helped build a young nation and deliver American goods throughout
the world. We would like to thank Senator Olympia Snowe and Bill Cohen for
bringing our decade long ordeal with the National Parks Service to a close.
Snowe and her staff were the driving force behind the vessel finally receiving
the honor of National Historic Landmark that she so deserved.