Flashback

Der PeLiKaN's original mast, bent in two directions, starboard spreader snapped, immediately after the incident.

Der PeLiKaN’s original mast, bent in two directions, starboard spreader snapped, immediately after the incident. Photo by Caitlin Keller

Searching through some old emails, I came across one I had sent on Aug. 21, 2009, to report on the condition of the regional Sea Scout Training Vessel DER PELIKAN, which had an unfortunate encounter with the Kent Narrows Bridge on the Chesapeake Bay on the first of that month during Ship 7916’s Long Cruise. I wrote, “Mast is nothing more than scrap. Roller furler on the jib is trash. Standing rigging on the main is likely damaged (my bet is the stbd side is trash). Estimate for repair is $10K-$20K, depending on the option selected. May take 4 months for repair to be completed. No hull insurance, only liability. We need to hold some serious fund raisers. I’m frantically trying to create the curriculum for petty officer training, which is in 3 weeks. My head hurts.”

Der PeLiKaN's new mast makes it through the Kent Narrows Drawbridge for the first time--unscathed!

Der PeLiKaN’s new mast makes it through the Kent Narrows Drawbridge for the first time–unscathed! Photo by Shay Seaborne

Thus began my 16-month fundraising odyssey, which brought in a total of $23,129.73, covering the purchase of replacements for the damaged main mast, standing rigging and roller furler–with enough left over to pay for new standing rigging on the mizzen and a new Windex. Due to the dedicated efforts of Commodore Steve Nichols and Skipper Ken Kessler, who worked hard and long to wire the new mast and help with installation, the vessel was recommissioned the following spring, in time for scouts to sail her to St. Michael’s, MD, where the teens assisted with the 23rd Annual Antique and Classic Boat Show. Unfortunately, the trip gave me a skipper’s nightmare.

Thank goodness that series of events is well behind me. I don’t miss the fund raising, the ribbing about the “one-masted ketch,” or the khaki uniform–though I do sometimes miss those scouts.

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