Victory Chimes

America's Windjammer  

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For Immediate Release

Sailing on the Fringes of History to an Historic Landmark

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 in America.

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 out.

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 doom.

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 history.

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 designation"

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.

Read more about the Victory Chimes:

National Historic Landmark Tall Ship Celebrates 100th Year
Historic Chesapeake Bay Ram Schooner Returns to Bay
A Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection - is it Important?
Shipboard Romance by Lisa Matte
Victory Chimes Begins Her Second Century of Working Sail
Sailing on the Fringes of History to an Historic Landmark
June Knowles Celebrates her 50th Cruise
Tall Ships Festival an Everyday Occurrence
Victory Chimes and the Maine Windjammer Fleet
Victory Chimes makes the "Top 200 Yachts" List
Victory Chimes
is a proud member of the
Windjammer Association

Victory Chimes
PO Box 1401, Rockland, ME 04841

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