As pretty as our city is, and our harbor packed with pleasure boats shine like a fine china on display; our harbor is regrettably still naked!
It’s like a tuxedoed man with pressed shirt, creased coat and a fresh shave and haircut looking fine until you look below the waste and see nothing but hairy legs and bare feet.
Pretty as can be but something is definitely missing!
Oh, Newburyport! The birthplace of the Coast Guard and their revenue ships; the birthplace of the true, majestic Clipper Ship; home to more than a dozen shipbuilding facilities at one time; the port of call of hundreds of privateers in two wars; and our Yankee traders doing business in almost every port in the world!
Clipper City, in spite of its name, turned its back away from the sea and turned to the riches of the Industrial Revolution. Technology made it more reliable than the fickle profits and unpredictable weather of the ocean, the river and the dangerous entrance to our harbor. This process of turning away started in the 19th century, gathered steam and roared into the twentieth century, only to find us impoverished and forgotten when the Industrial Revolution passed us by.
The city has since 1964 been reborn by commemorating our history, making us a highly desirable place to visit and to live here.
So, why is there no clipper ship moored at our docks to commemorate its birth here? Why is there no shipbuilding facilities here for sailing vessels? Why is there no privateer ship moored with educational and entertainment based excursions? Why is there no restored RCS Massachusetts anchored at the original revenue ship’s home across from the Custom House?
We are still naked from the waist down – and it is rather embarrassing.
But now for a brief moment, or at least for two weeks, Newburyport will be returning to the sea! The Custom House is planning on this event annually.
First, the El Galeon Andalucia will be here for the new annual Maritime Day sponsored by the Custom House and its many supporters. It’s American base most appropriately is St. Augustine in Florida, the oldest colony in North America and founded by the Spanish, here is the information page, and I encourage everyone to watch this video which gives a good description in English of the ship’s capabilities and place in history. The Custom House will be hosting public tours ($10/person) and many special events from Wednesday to Monday. Please check their website for details. I especially encourage, if you can be available; to watch the El Galeon enter our harbor Wednesday afternoon from 2:00 onward. This will be the moment that Newburyport returns to the sea.
Second, the Lowell Boat Shop will be sponsoring the arrival of the Lynx, a privateer ship from the War of 1812. Newburyport sent out many of these built right here and to honor their construction and the fame of Amesbury, Newbury, Newburyport and Salisbury’s ship yards; and the captains who sailed them valiantly; it will be moored at the Newburyport waterfront from June 2nd to June 6th. I invite you to see this video to catch the importance of having a privateer return to our area responsible for so many built here! Tours will be $5/person.
Hopefully, one day; with these inspirations to motivate; Newburyport can be a finely suited man….and put its pants and shoes on!