The Long Colorful Life of the CARTHAGINIAN

The three-masted bark-rigged CARTHAGINIAN was used in a 1960s movie, but had been a cargo schooner in her youth.

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