Author Archives: Matt Wheeler

The Long Colorful Life of the CARTHAGINIAN

When the builders of the schooner Wandia launched her in Denmark in 1921, they couldn’t have imagined that she’d get a moment in the limelight. She was a workhorse for many years; she began by hauling cargo in the Baltic Sea for her original owner, a Captain Petersen. Later, she fished in Iceland for a short time before crossing the Atlantic and trying her hand again at cargo in Central America. This was an unprofitable venture, and her next owner was likely thinking outside the box when he purchased her.

R. Tucker Thompson quickly resold the coaster to American film producers the Mirisch Company in 1964, and like a dedicated actor who radically transforms herself for a part, Wandia was expertly refitted to resemble a 19th century New Bedford whaler for her role in the 1966 picture Hawaii, a screen version of the 1959 novel by James Michener. The new 3-masted bark was renamed Carthaginian.

When the film was complete, Thompson bought her back and for a short time shuffled his life to Hilo, HI, where he’d negotiated her sale to a non-profit and agreed to serve as her captain and the curator of the whaling museum she briefly housed. When this venture folded in 1968, Thompson left and the Carthaginian resumed her life as a working vessel for a time. She ran aground near Oahu in April 1973, where she was ultimately scuttled.

Photo by Les Hamm, 1966

Not Found in Supermarkets

George Mara, statistician for Coating Engineering Corporation, holds up 15 lb and 17 lb specimens caught near Corsair Canyon on the Eastern edge of Georges Bank.

No photographer attribution

Year unknown

Old School

From the original photo description:

“One of the smaller canoes with its crew of three about to depart for a night’s fishing. Contrast of primitive equipment with modern buildings in the background is typical of Mexico.”

1962, no photographer attribution

It Starts Out Here

Aboard an Alaskan salmon troller, this crew member dresses the catch for market. The photo date is unknown, but was originally published in Pacific Fisherman, a similar publication for the west coast which was bought and absorbed by NF in the mid 1960s.

West Coast Giggers

The Cornish gig Treffrey was a noteworthy entrant at the second annual Traditional Small Craft Association meet in Santa Cruz in October, 1979. She reportedly had a top hull speed of 10 knots, and had travelled around 400 miles over land for the event from Arcata, CA, with her captain and crew. Her name was borrowed from an 1838 gig, whose lines are the basis for modern racing gigs.

Gig racing has its roots in Cornwall in the Isles of Scilly, where traditional examples had a 32′ LOA and a 4′ 10″ beam. They were built as general workboats and often used to taxi pilots out to incoming vessels. Historically, the pilot on the first gig to reach the vessel in need was the one who got hired, so gig racing has its origins in financial reward.

The sport has become popular in the US, particularly in New England. Belfast, ME (near Searsport, home of Penobscot Marine Museum) launched Come Boating, a community boating program, in the early 2000s, largely to promote pilot gig rowing and racing. Three gigs have been built locally for the program–the Belle Fast, the Selkie, and the Malcolm G.

Handlining Mackerel

In the Gulf Stream near Hatteras Island, Fred Fox hauls a king mackerel aboard his offshore commercial rig. (1990)

Last Days of the Keeper

Ron Cianfarani on the catwalk of the Makapuu Light at Oahu, Hawaii. The lighthouse was built at the point in the islands where ships crossing from the Pacific coast of the US first made landfall. After a fire that killed one keeper, the original oil vapor lamp was replaced by a radio beacon and a powerful incandescent bulb. We’re not certain whether Cianfarani himself was a keeper, but the light was automated by the Coast Guard in 1974, just a few years after this photo was taken.

Photo by Warren Roll, March 8, 1971

Extra Anchovies

Dan Courtice (L) and Capt. George Grafft (R) fished on the MELLO BOY out of Avila Beach, CA, in the 1970s. They’re shown here reeling in a lampara net; it appears to be the end of a workday. Together, they caught and stored live anchovies in bait wells in the harbor and sold them directly to tuna trawlers. Mr. Courtice provided information about this photo; he relates that it was common among bait fishing captains to include “BOY” in their boat names (Courtice and Grafft new the crew of BILLY BOY, another local bait boat). When life at sea lost its romantic luster, Mr. Courtice became a professional photographer himself; he’s based in Chico, CA. (photo by Ellen Banner; used by permission of the photographer)