HillcrestBlog by "San Diego News Service" (619) 757-4909

"San Diego News Service" covers hard news, features and reviews for local and national print media, and maintains, "HillcrestBlog." Address: 3907 Georgia St., #15, San Diego 92103-3548. Our editor is Leo E. Laurence, J.D., Copy Ed.: Martin Brickson. Member: Society of Professional Journalists, Latino Journalists of California. Call news tips to (619) 757-4909 (days), Nights: (619) 220-8686 (fax also). leopowerhere@msn.com Copyright 2008 by San Diego News Service

Thursday, November 20, 2008


PHOTOS reveal several sailing ships operated by the Maritime Museum of San Diego, under full sail to commemorate the recent birthday of the museum's treasured SS Star of India. While at sea, our editor/photo-journalist captured these scenes as the Californian (1) fires its starboard, 6-pounder guns; (2) sails with its sister ships of the Maritime Museum, and (3) museum volunteer, 13-year-old Kyle Radwanski, plays his Scottish bagpipes on the main deck while the ship is at sea.


San Diego -- 11/20/08 -- With the light wind on your face, while standing on its wooden decks and looking up at the 7,000 sq. ft. of canvas sails above you billowing in the breeze, you feel the gentle roll of the sleek and powerful, 1848 replica of the SS Californian, a 130-ft. schooner.
The public can go aboard these historic, sailing ships on numerous trips locally and northward to the Catilina Islands off Los Angeles. Sailing fees are remarkably reasonable, even during these troubling, economic times.
The hard-working crews on the historic replicas owned/operated by the Matritime Museum, including the skipper, are all highly-trained volunteers who range in age from teenagers to retired seniors.
Founded in 1948, the museum grew out of the earlier efforts of a group of local historians and maritime enthusiasts. They acquired the sailing ship Star of India in 1927.
The Star is the world's oldest, active ship.
The Californian - an 1848 replica - was built at Spanish Lnading in San Diego bay. She is the "official" tall-ship of the State of California.
She has made voyages to Hawii, Mexico and our American east coast.
The Californian is fast, very fast.
Its captains often like to let out all the sail and get her rolling on the sea at high speed, easily passing larger, sailing ships like the H.M.S. Surprise, the museum's 18th century Royal Navy frigate.
The Surprise is heavy and slow, and easily passed by the sleek ship Californian.
Capt. Rex Stewart skippered the schooner on this commemorative sail. The ship's 6-pounder guns were fired under the supervision of Chief Gunner Chari Wessel of Clairemont -- who knew everything about those powerful and loud, side-mounted guns.
The chief mate was Scott Baldwin, who often also skippers the Californian.
Something strange occurred as the Californian, the H.M.S. Surprise and other museum ships did a 180-degree turn near the Coronado Bridge.
The Navy's guiden-missle cruiser, the U.S.S. Antietam, CG-54, was returning to port at the same time. Navy ships typically have priority right-of-way on the bay. Everything gives way to them.
However, noticing the SS Californian make its very slow and extremely wide U-turn; the Antietam suddenly stopped, dead in the water.
The Navy ship was giving way to the historic California, an almost unprecedent action by the Navy's cruiser!
The First Mate of the Californian wanted to fire a salute from its port-side, 6-pounder gun as a salute and thank you to the Naval ship. But, without sufficient time to re-load the ship's guns in time, the skipper of the Californian instead dipped its colors (the American flag flying from the highest mainmast).
And, to cheers from everyone on deck of both ships; the two ships were honoring each other, according to ancient, maritime custom.
More information about cruises and fascinating programs of the Maritime Museum of San Diego can be found at their website: http://www.sdmaritime.org/, or by calling (619) 234-9153.
Copyright 2008 by San Diego News Service (619) 757-4909 leopowerhere@msn.com


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