"Denis Sullivan" 
Returns to the Lakes May 18, 2005
Stops in Oswego Co., NY

Contributed By Richard Palmer jpalme11 at twcny.rr.com



After a successful voyage through the Barge Canal, the Milwaukee-based 
Lake schooner "Denis Sullivan" stopped off in Oswego for nearly a week to be rigged. The scenes are reminiscent 
of old sailing days in Oswego, and the "Sullivan" is the type of schooner built at by George Goble in the  early 1870s.


The vessel, "Denis Sullivan" came back up through the Barge Canal and had to be fitted out and masts stepped before proceeding to Milwaukee.

    After wintering and touring the Bahamas, the Milwaukee-based tall ship, "Denis Sullivan," returned to the Great Lakes via the Barge Canal to Lake Ontario in May, 2005.  The Sullivan is a replica of a 19th century three-masted Great Lakes schooner. It was a rare opportunity for  Oswego residents to view the three-masted schooner, and  several days were spent at the dock  adjacent to the H. Lee White Marine Museum while the crew stepped the masts and installed her standing and running rigging.
     Spring  in  upstate New York, more frequently than not, means chilly temperatures, and there was still ice in the Mohawk River and the canal as the vessel made its way west from Albany. After a restful stop in Little Falls, the third day on the canal brought the vessel another 48 miles to Sylvan Beach. The tug "Governor Roosevelt" towed the schooner across Oneida Lake.  They docked at Brewerton for the night, and the following  day were only able to make it to Three Rivers, about five miles above Phoenix. The Oswego section had been closed due to high water.
      The Sullivan  made it to Oswego on May 9, and by 9:30 a.m., crews were stepping the masts in a flurry of activity, with the help of a crane. The vessel was then moved to the west side of the H. Lee White Marine Museum dock to fit out the schooner with the standing and running rigging.  While this was occurring, many people, including  school groups, toured the vessel. It is interesting to note that three masted schooners similar to Sullivan were built in Oswego in the 1870s.
    A few entries from Captain John Lorenz's log:
  "Sunday, May 15 -     We have finally finished re-rigging the Sullivan. With 44 passengers aboard,we slipped the dock lines in the Oswego Harbor and set sail for Sodus Point. As we sailed along we experienced every kind of weather you can imagine rain, sleet, and sunshine. Everyone onboard enjoyed the sail despite the crazy weather. 
   "On our way into Sodus Point we were greeted by a local fireboat and a Sodus Bay Yacht Club boat who escorted us past the lighthouse and into the harbor. At the dock we were welcomed again with a party at the Kaitlynn Marina. The entire crew received packets of information all about Sodus Point from the Marina manager to help us feel right at home. Thank you to everyone in Sodus Point for the warm welcome! 
   "After a warm shower and a bit of laundry we settled in for a relaxing evening just as it began to rain. It rained hard all night, while we slept in our warm dry bunks. 
    "In the morning we set sail for Erie Pennsylvania. Our cruise track will take us through another canal located between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie called the Welland Canal. There are eight locks in the Welland Canal that lift boats of all kinds up to Lake Erie or down to Lake Ontario. Once we enter the Welland Canal, depending on the amount of traffic, it will take us anywhere from 8 to 12 hours to reach Lake Erie."
   "Wednesday, May 18 - Today was a cool sunny day with very little wind. We docked at the Maritime Museum in Erie, Pa., next to the Niagara, a tall ship that served in the battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812. The present Niagara is a reconstruction of the original vessel and it is an amazing ship. We took a tour of the ship and of the Maritime Museum today it was fantastic! 
     "We bent on, or attached, the topsails today. The last sail to go up was the raffee, the triangular sail on the foremast that is unique to Great Lakes schooners. We now have all ten sails ready to set! Hopefully, when we leave tomorrow morning we will be able to set them all. 
   "Friday, May 20 - Yesterday we set all 10 sails! The boat was beautiful! We were flying across Lake Erie at 6.5 knots. As the sun began to go down so did the topsails, hopefully we will have many more days of sailing under full sail. 
     "While sailing across Lake Erie yesterday we noticed a lot of small dead fish floating in the water. So…we took a quick water sample to test hoping to find out what was causing the fish to die. Everything was normal except for the pH. The average pH reading has been 6.6, but today it was 6. Near us the "Lake Guardian,"  a research vessel, was also sampling the water. We radioed them to see if they had an answer for us. To our surprise they too were trying to find out what was causing the fish to die. 
     "With good winds all day and through the night we reached the Detroit River ahead  head of schedule. The river is really neat because on one side of the river is the U.S. and the other side is Canada. As we entered the river we fired a cannon salute to both sides."
    "Sunday, May 22 -  The ever changing weather brought us warmer temperatures and sun. We even brought out our shorts again. However, we expect rain later on today. Our next stop  is Alpena, Mich.  located on the northern shores of Lake Huron. In Alpena we will spend a couple of days at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. 
     " Yesterday, while we were docked in Algonac, we finished up some painting on the boat. Michael and Meridith even painted part of the hull which meant they spent the entire afternoon in a small boat tied to the side of the Sullivan. At the end of the day we stood back to admire our work. The new coat of paint glimmered in the sunlight. The Sullivan sure looks good in her new coat of paint! "
     At Algonac, Capt. Lorenz turned the vessel over to Capt. John Tiffany, who would carry the voyage through to Milwaukee. Here, the vessel entered Lake Huron.
    The log continues:
  "Thursday, May 26 -  Today in Alpena it is sunny but cool. We plan to finish our sanding and painting projects before dinner and after dinner we will slip the dock lines and set sail for Port Washington. 
    "Yesterday we took a group of folks sailing from the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Everyone helped raise the sails and some even took a turn at the helm. It was a good time for all. Thunder Bay is really a beautiful place to sail! 
     "Everyone in Alpena has been so kind to us. We have had quite a few people come by to say hello and visit while we painted. Some even wondered if we were available for public sails while we were here. Unfortunately our stay did not allow for public sails this time, but in the fall there will be many opportunities to sail on the Sullivan. A couple of school groups stopped by too! They had lots of questions about the Denis Sullivan. We answered their questions and gave them a tour of the ship from the dock. We wish everyone in Alpena a great summer and we look forward to visiting again in the fall."
     A day-long  celebration  including presentations and other events highlighted the arrival of the Sullivan in Milwaukee on June 4, 2005.

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