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A Look Back Into the History of Boatbuilding | Soundings Online

More than nine lives

Rescuing and restoring old wooden ships keeps history alive and inspires us all. This is the story of a hard-working schooner that operated on the West Coast.

Wapama was a 216-foot steam schooner that made runs between San Francisco and the northwest United States during the heyday of the rough-and-tumble Pacific lumber trade.

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A survivor of his own decisions

Published in 1953, The Voyage of the Heretique set off a firestorm of controversy, casting its author, French physician Alain Bombard, as either brave or a fool. Bombard believed shipwrecked mariners could live off the sea until they were rescued, eating fish and drinking sea water. In 1952 he set out on a solo voyage across the Atlantic with no provisions whatsoever.

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Hove down in Panama

Ship for sale: $500. The 172-foot C.D. Bryant is hove down in Colon, on the Pacific coast of Panama, around the turn of the 19th century so her bottom could be “got at.” There’s a steam winch on the left with a cable leading to the main mast, just above the lower yard. Once the three-masted bark was on her side, she could be tied down at various points, and workers could recaulk her seams and recopper the bottom.

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The Nubble to the nebula

Perched on a rocky ledge above the surf, Cape Neddick Light Station exudes a certain confidence, a sense of permanence in the face of the forces of nature. Also known as Nubble Light, the station is located off Cape Neddick Point in York Beach, Maine, and opened in 1879.

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Sailing on the National Mall

Model sailboat racers, their vessels rigged and ready, line up along the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in this image from 1928. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, elected four years later in 1932, was an avid sailor and an enthusiastic modeler. As part of his New Deal legislation package to ease the woes of the Great Depression, the chief executive wanted to encourage the model sailboat hobby as a wholesome diversion for the nation’s youth, often left to their own devices as parents struggled to make ends meet.

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