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Eric Bernes had been 49 years at sea when this picture was taken in 1970 aboard the Statsraad Lehmkuhl. He has since retired.

tion now in their la te teens a nd twenti es throu gh eve ry effort which we can bend to do so. Sadly, how sadly, Joseph Conrad remark ed: "W hateve r craft he handles with sk ill th e sea ma n of the future sha ll be not our desce nd a nt but on ly our successo r. " It may be th at Conrad is irreversibly ri ght. But should we abet thi s declin e of capabi lit y a fter how many decades of Jean years in th e entire field of maritime prese rvation by now earmarking th e fir st significant sum of federal maritime fundin g for the prese rvation o f th e pieces rather than the processes which may con tinu e building, repairin g and operat in g those pieces? To do so see ms a blind or savage joke at the ex pense of th e men and women who will hav e to run the ma ritim e wor ld in thirty yea rs time. In mid nineteenth ce ntury Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote an eloquent, tim ely a nd success ful plea , overnight to beco me a famous poem, to save and preserve " Old Ironsides." The need of commun it y symbols, of a patriotic to uchstone to the past and a mea ns of

30

ga lvan izing public spmt, governed and shou ld have governed. Today t he difference lies in the fact that we have no such co nstant pool of well-trained men as existed in the 1860s. None dreamed then that America's edu cat iona l sys tem would shift from tra ining automatica ll y for skill s and competence (thus ass urin g co ntinuity) to knowledge-gain as a hi gher calling th an sk illed workmans hip. We too need comm unit y symbols but they do not meet our far more pressing need . One such symbol, a magnificent one, is Pommern. She li es in the Baltic harbor of Marieham, excellently maintained in cons iderabl e m eas ur e thr o u gh the generosi ty of th e E rik so n S hippin g Co mpany which th e big, handso me, four-masted bark served for ma ny years . Does she serve th e essential needs of th e yo uth of th e Aland Isla nd s? Cap t. Kahre, one-time mate in one o f Er ik son's barks and a man of sc rupulou s ca re for the vesse l a nd th e museum of whi ch he is now director, a nd a man of grea t compassion and co ncern for the yo uth of those islands, has ass ured the author that Aland boys tod ay, rather than go to sea or lea rn a

trade, find hi ghl y lucrative jobs car ryin g cases of Johnny Walker up th e ga ngways of th e touri st steamers se rvin g th e Balti c. There are o lder sea men still a li ve in Mar iehamn whose sk ill and co mpetence are priceless. That fund of ab ili ty is swiftl y passing . For the moment, in the U.S., ski lled performance co ntinu es. Such men as J oe Dawso n 's "gree ni es," in their teens in th e 1940s, a re now ex tremely capable "mechan ics" in wood, metal or fibre, in th eir fifties a nd possessed of thirty years of experience over and above th e crisisJearn ed work hab it s a nd skill s of World War II. Bu t in fifteen more years th ey wi ll be in retirement or go ne and we wi ll lack experienced journeymen let a lo ne master craftsmen . It see ms relatively certa in that we will have ap prenti ces, th ose who crave capabilit y, as distinct from knowledge a lo ne, as a way of life and a way of providing cont inuit y. But who will train 'em? It has often appeared that restoring th e o ld vesse ls, imbued as th ey a re with a n und e niabl y moving hi sto ri ca l sig nifi ca nce a nd prec iou s construct ion details, is th e very chance to place th e new and th e passing ge neration s toget her to th e end of sk ills tra nsfer. Two flaw s ex ist in thi s reaso nin g. First li es fundin g. By law (a so und one) a ll fund s dispersed by th e new $5,000,000 Maritime H eritage Fund as b y man y addition a l federal, sta te a nd pri vate conduits, mu st be matched. Funding is more easil y sec ured fo r th e monument th a n its restoration, howeve r a nd is hardest of all to sec ure fo r process. Consider a n instit ut ion devoted to th e preservation of the skill s or practices throu gh yo uth trainin g-sai l or sho re. I f seekin g a gra nt of $50,000 it must raise th e matchin g sum. Ex peri ence warns that when the cause is th e trainin g of you th for capab ilit y as di stin ct from knowledge attainm ent (which ca n be reass urin gly measured by th e acade mic degrees earned) then $ IOO is very often considered an ample gift. SEA HI STO RY, WINTER I979

Sea History 013 - Winter 1978-1979  

9 EAST RIVER: OF TIME AND TIDE, Peter Stanford • 12 A DREAM OF TALL SHIPS IN SOUTH STREET • 13 THE SCHOONER BERTA PUTS TO SEA, Francis Bowke...

Sea History 013 - Winter 1978-1979  

9 EAST RIVER: OF TIME AND TIDE, Peter Stanford • 12 A DREAM OF TALL SHIPS IN SOUTH STREET • 13 THE SCHOONER BERTA PUTS TO SEA, Francis Bowke...

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