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1992-Year of the Ship

ThebarkentineReginaMaris, veteran of the transatlantic trade from Europe to the Americas,

and of Cape Horn sailing and, latterly, under the late Dr. George Nichols,

the peaceful pursuit of the whale from Greenland to the Windward Islands fringing the Caribbean,

 and from Mexico’s Sea of Cortez to Alaska’s Bering Strait, is newly settled, as 1992 opens,

in the old whaling town of Greenport, at theend of Long Island, 100-odd miles east of New YorkCity.

Shecomes from thefarreachesoftheocean world and from another age.

During long anxious weeks this summer, and on into early autumn, it seemed theRegina’s old wooden hull with its antique,

tattered rig-a rig derived from the rig of Portuguese caravels of 500 years ago–would not make it.

Then Hajo Knuttle of Windsor, Connecticut, bought the vessel and saved her from scuttling.

Merion Wiggin ofGreenport’s East End Seaport and Bill Claudio of Claudio’s Restaurant weighed in,

with the backing of Karl Kortum across the country in San Francisco. Chairman Emeritus of the NMHS and stalwart of its American Ship Trust,

Karl had last seen Regina in the Canaries in 1969,

when he wasservingas mate in the paddlewheel tug Eppleton Hall in her famous voyage from England’s River Tyne to San Francisco.

The barkentine had been dismasted in a traumatic incident of her varied career,

but the ship’s people were in good heart and kept the tug crew up singing sea songs into the night.

Her Merry Hearts

A century and a half ago the British mariner John Nicol (a spiritual relation, surely, of Regina’s Dr. Nichols)

told the literary person who transcribed his life those sailors singing aboard the dismasted Regina, who make the tight ship.

It was in this sailorly spirit that Cape Horn was first rounded

and the ocean world opened to mankind in the decades following Christopher Columbus’s voyage of 1492.

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