The Falls of Clyde Has Friends!

Before I knew the historic significance of the Falls of Clyde, I just thought of it as an old pirate ship, if I even thought about it at all.  A year and a half ago, the emotional and intellectual impact made on me by the Hawaii Maritime Center started my adoration of this ship.  I bought a copy of Bob Krauss’ book that he wrote about the Falls of Clyde and came to understand and appreciate its significance even more.  In fact, one of my favorite posts was the one I wrote about just that — the Hawaii Maritime Center adjacent to Aloha Tower.

Front decoration on the Falls of Clyde and its leading lady.

Recently, I was devastated to hear that they actually wanted to toss it, to dispose of it — to sink the Falls of Clyde!  First of all, I don’t know how they could bring themselves to do such a thing.  I understand that money is a huge issue and that neither the Maritime Center nor Bishop Museum can afford the needed repairs but the Falls of Clyde was declared a national historic landmark by the National Park Service of the United States Department of the Interior in 1989.  Doesn’t that mean anything?  Doesn’t that mean that it’s supposed to be “protected” and preserved?  Did they not seek funding assistance from the Federal government?

Falls of Clyde with its rigging still in tact.

It was a concern to me back in March of 2007, when it was already closed for safety reasons.  People were no longer allowed on board to check out the vessel’s design and make-up.  As you can see by the picture below, they had already removed most of the rigging.

The Falls of Clyde without its rigging.

Suddenly, a ray of hope came forward for this 125-year-old remnant of our history.  On September 30th, just last week, Bishop Museum made the news as it transferred ownership of the vessel to the Friends of the Falls of Clyde!  I’m not sure if the rigging was removed for the planned sinking or for the planned repairs that will be made to the vessel somewhere in dry dock.  It doesn’t matter.  What matters is that an organization has stepped forward to bring this ship back to its old, tourist-attracting self!

For the record, Bruce McEwan, the president of Friends of the Falls of Clyde, told the Honolulu Advertiser that the restoration may turn into a community project as people have already begun to step forward and join forces with the new organization.  As you can see, I am not the only crazy person around here!  Bob Krauss acknowledged in his book, The Indestructible Square-Rigger Falls of Clyde 324 Voyages Under Sail,” that he understood how people might scratch their heads and wonder about our seemingly-odd fascination with the Falls of Clyde.  Perhaps the following paragraph, written by another icon of our local history, can shed a little light on the emotions that push this conservation endeavor forward.

“First, on a global level, her iron hull and four towering masts mark the Falls of Clyde as an important step in the evolution of western sailing ship design, a culmination of refinement as sail gave way to steam. She is the only surviving full-rigged, four-masted ship in the world.  That’s not all.  This vessel represents a unique experiment in the global transportation of oil.  The Falls of Clyde is the only surviving sail-driven oil tanker.  Second, on a local level, she is as authentic a symbol of Hawaiian history as hula or surfing.  The ship is the only surviving original member of the century-old Matson fleet that still plays a vital role in Hawai’i’s economy.”

The Friends of the Falls of Clyde, has already applied for its non-profit status.  When I read that I started thinking.  I was grasping at straws and I thought of Matson.  I have mentioned Matson in this blog several times over the last several months.  It was Matson that brought this sea-going darling to our shores.  Yeah, I couldn’t help myself; I’ve already sent an email asking them about their corporate giving program.  Hey, you never know, maybe they can offer some support.  Maybe they will want to offer some support.

Sunset at the Falls of Clyde.

As the sun sets over Honolulu this October evening, Homespun Honolulu sends a huge “Mahalo!” to the Friends of the Falls of Clyde for stepping up to save a tangible piece of our maritime history!  Hopefully, in the not-too-distant future, the sun will rise again on the Falls of Clyde as it is returned to the water in all its historic glory.  You can bet this blogger will be there, with camera ready!

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6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 The Carnival of Aloha Goes to Sea // Oct 6, 2008 at 6:03 am

    […] yours truly, emphasized that there is hope where funds are not always available telling us that The “Falls of Clyde” Has Friends, posted right here at Homespun Honolulu.  Our mode of “transportation” this Chapter […]

  • 2 Falls of Clyde // Oct 7, 2008 at 12:09 am

    Hi Evelyn,
    I found the website for the ‘Friends of the Falls of Clyde’ where we can donate to help with the restoration and help save this ship and it’s rich history.

    This blogger will be right beside you camera in hand as well!


  • 3 Evelyn // Oct 7, 2008 at 7:52 am

    You know, Ron, I have asked others and couldn’t find their contact information. Thank you so much for providing that link! Hooray!

  • 4 Connecting the Nautical Dots // Oct 24, 2009 at 7:47 am

    […] can go here for more detail about Honolulu’s maritime […]

  • 5 April M. Williams // Nov 27, 2010 at 6:16 am

    This ship is still elegant in many ways. We recently toured the ship and you can read more as well as see the video here.

  • 6 Evelyn // Nov 29, 2010 at 7:07 am

    Thank you, April! I do love the Falls and I’m glad to hear there are actually several people who feel the same way! Thank you for sharing!

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