Sea History 093 - Summer 2000

Page 23

A century of evolution: the hundredyear-old Victory Chimes meets the modern cargo carrier Fighring Lady ofLimassol in the Chesapeake in 1999. (Photo: Naomi Kaminsky) ar Camden and Rockland in Penobscor Bay. Thanks to rhe foresighr of men like Capr. G uild and Capr. Frank Swifr, old schooners, eirher laid up or converted to modern rigs wirh engines added, were being broughr back to life and restored. Victory Chimes has always been rhe largesr and rhe only hisroric rhree-masred vessel in rhe fleer. Guild sailed her until 1984 and was known as a man wirh exacring srandards for maintenance of rhe vessel as well as performance of his crew. Many a wo uld-be sai lorman fa iled ro meer his rigoro us expecrarions, and of rhosewho did ger his approval, like Capr. Files, many went on to disringuished careers as professional seamen. In rhe !are '8 0s Victory Chimes changed hands rhree times in five eventful yea rs, until 1987 found her berthed at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and up for sale. Domino's Pizza, forewarned that she was rapidly deteriorating, bought her anyway and spenrwell over a million dollars on her res toration. She was renamed Domino Effect. Paul De Gaeta, fl eet captain fo r the pizza chain 's motor yachts, was not quire sure what to do with rhis aging vessel with no engines and a limited operati ng arena, but when he was introd uced to Caprain Kip Fi les at the launching of Pride ofBaltimore II in 1988, he fo und a caprain who understood rhe full possibilities of the old schooner. Files had served as a mate under Capr. G uild in 1977, and had been an admirer of the vessel since first seeing her under sail at rhe age of 13. H e was fresh from a job as master of Bill of Rights for VisionQues t, and counts the Bark Elissa and the schooners Nathaniel Bowditch, Bowdoin, Tabor Boy and Western Union amo ng his commands. But by 1990, Domino's was losing interest and she was about to be sold to Japanese businessmen who wanted to take


her home to be a restaurant. Files and D e Gaeta, against all berter financial judgment but with the full weight of a sentimental commitment to a grand old vessel, bought her and returned her as Victory Chimes to Maine, where she operates under a Subchapter T, Small Passenge r Vessel Coast G uard certificate, carrying up to 49 people. Orher rhan improvements to rhe passenger faciliries, much is srill the same. The 6hp donkey engine of 1906 still helps ro raise the sails and operare rhe windlass. A 1920 Domesric diaphragm pumper still pumps rhe bilges . A yawl boar srill pushes when the wind is uncooperarive. A ve reran of rhe cargo era would norice rhe addirion of a rhird headsail, expansion of the afr deck house, and changes to the forward deck house when rhe galley was moved below and modern heads were insralled. The average summer season las rs about

17 weeks and, of rhe 700 passengers who sail each year, abour 250 are repearvisitors. The record is held by a woman with 54 trips, and rhe large and loyal following know nor only rhe history of rhe vessel, but all rhe harbors and islands to which she sai ls. Some passengers return for rhe same week every yea r. They are now rhe "cargo,' albeir an acrive one who enjoy helping our on deck. And Victory Chimes is sri ll doing whar she was builr for-providing an income for her owners by carrying a cargo under sail. Coming Home After 100 Years Lasr fal l rhe Victory Chimes proceeded under row from Maine to rhe C hesapeake and ir was a grand voyage during which I was privileged to be one of rhe crew. The sai ls were ser, as were rhose of rhe Norfolk Rebel, which provided a few exrra knors of speed

Victory Chimes under sail in the Chesapeake halfa century ago. (Courtesy: Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum)


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