Victory Chimes

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Historic Chesapeake Bay Ram Schooner Returns to Bay
Reprinted from TheChesapeakeBay.com

The American Tall Ship, Victory Chimes, disproves the adage that "You can't go home". Gone for most of the second half of this century, the storied National Historic Landmark is coming home to the Chesapeake Bay. Victory Chimes, the last American built 3-masted or larger sailing vessel still sailing from America's "Golden Age of Sail," is returning to celebrate her 100th Anniversary.

Nautical historians refer to Victory Chimes as a Chesapeake Bay Ram. When launched in 1900 at Bethel, Delaware, she was christened the Edwin and Maud after her first Captain's two children. About 30 Rams were built at yards along the Nanticoke River from 1870 to around 1920. The Chesapeake Bay Rams are considered to be some of America's most successful cargo sailing vessels earning that reputation when steam powered vessels were beginning to take over the trade.

Arriving in Baltimore in October, the Victory Chimes participated in the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race, which brings awareness to the environmental concerns of the Bay. She then sailed to St Michaels, Maryland, where she will winter at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and be opened to the public. The museum is planning a 100th anniversary celebration for the last Chesapeake Bay built schooner on April 15, 2000.

The vessel carried mainly lumber along the Eastern Seaboard from 1900 through both World Wars. Her last owner in the cargo business was the C.C. Paul Co. of Baltimore. She was then purchased, along with another Ram, by Capt. H.E. Knust, who converted her into a passenger carrying "Dude Cruiser" in 1945. She sailed out of Annapolis, under Knust's Chesapeake Bay Vacation Cruises, Inc. until she left the Bay in 1954 after being acquired by Capt. Frederick Boyd Guild of Maine. Guild sailed her "Downeast" to a 30 year career in the passenger trade that left her with the title, "Queen of the American Windjammers." In 1985, the schooner was sold to a business interest from Duluth, Minnesota and was towed into the Great Lakes. Domino's Pizza, purchased the vessel in 1987 and began a reported $1.5 million restoration on the old ship. As the economy tightened in the later 80's, Domino's put the vessel up for sale. In 1990, the vessel came very close to leaving the country as a Japanese syndicate bid on her. The Japanese had planned on shipping her to Japan and converting her to a restaurant. Paul DeGaeta, Fleet Captain for Domino's and Captain Kip Files, the vessels Master, stepped into prevent the sale. "Working for Domino's, we were given the task of selling the vessel," recalls DeGaeta. "Neither Kip or I could bear to see an American nautical treasure leave this country. We did everything we could to find an American buyer-contacted everyone we knew in the industry-but no one seemed interested; we were running out of time, so we decided to try and buy her ourselves." Files adds, "It was a risky thing, we were Captains, not businessmen. But, I knew that we had a chance if we could bring her back to Maine and start sailing her as a Windjammer again." That's just what the pair did, after first changing her name from Domino Effect back to Victory Chimes.

Capt Files"She is a unique vessel," said Files. "Aside from her historic significance, she has benefited from good ownership and some luck. She has always been a privatley owned, well maintained working vessel-her cargo has simply changed from lumber to passengers." In 1997, Victory Chimes was designated an American National Historic Landmark-one of only 127 vessels to hold such a designation. During her first open house at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, the vessel was visited by a dozen descendants from the old sailing ship's past. "We had the granddaughter of JMC Moore, the man who designed the Rams and helped build many of them," DeGaeta said. "There were relatives of George K. Phillips who was Moore's partner at the Bethel Marine Railway where the vessel was launched, as well as descendants of R.E. Riggin, the vessels first Captain and share owner. They just kept showing up to see her."

A special guest also arrived with the assistance of several generations of his family. Capt. William Seaford Stevens Jr., now 87 years old, is believed to be the last surviving Captain of a Chesapeake Bay Ram. He served aboard the Edwin and Maud during WWII and into her first two years of her passenger days. Capt. Files welcomed the old skipper back aboard the vessel he ran almost half a century ago. "It was magical," said Files. "His eyes just sparkled when I brought him back to the wheel. I asked him what was the biggest difference from then until now. He said, 'It's sure a lot cleaner now, then when we were hauling lumber and fertilizer."

Victory Chimes will be docked at Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St Michaels, Maryland, on the Eastern Shore, through the winter and available for viewing. The Museum is open seven days a week from 9am to 4pm. The Victory Chimes will be available to host dockside functions while at the museum and will be doing a short sailing season in May before returning to Maine. For further information call (800) 745-5651.

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
 
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Victory Chimes
PO Box 1401, Rockland, ME 04841
800-745-5651

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