You can’t miss her. She’s a lady with quite a past and she is making Mystic Seaport her home until Memorial Day 2010. Her name is Amazon, appropriate considering she is 124-years-young, strong and still turning heads wherever she goes!
You guessed it; Amazon is the 102-ft. LOA screw schooner docked opposite Sabino here at the Museum, her British flag hoisted daily making her presence known to visitors and staff. Amazon has come a long way – from Malta via Gibraltar, the Canary Islands, the Cape Verde Islands, Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, Bermuda and Rhode Island ports. Quite a trip for an old gal!
If this lady could talk, she would give a riveting account of her many owners, where she has been and what she has done.
Amazon was built at Southampton, England, in 1885 from designs by the renowned Dixon Kemp. Her builder and first owner was Tankerville Chamberlayne, Esq., owner of a small non-commercial boat yard in Northam on the River Itchen. He personally supervised construction of Amazon, using high quality materials that have ensured her longevity to this day. Amazon was used for summer cruising, attending sailing regattas along the south coast of England until she was sold in 1897 to a Frenchman; she returned to British ownership in 1900, where she has remained.
She was too old-fashioned for the First World War and just plain too old for the Second World War and so lost her bronze propeller and shaft to the war effort, becoming a houseboat in a west London yacht basin until British actor, Arthur Lowe, bought her in 1968. Bought as a houseboat, the surveyor’s report on this 83-year-old was so favorable that it was decided to make her seaworthy again and Amazon was used as a floating base while touring coastal theaters. After Lowe’s death in 1982, his son used Amazon as a charter boat until she was put up for sale at the start of 1990, having migrated to northern Scotland that year.
After lying for sale in Scotland for seven years, Amazon was looking sad. The broker described her as difficult to sell because she was something of a “dinosaur” with four factors deterring potential buyers: Amazon was old, wooden, long (and therefore expensive to keep in a marina) and single screw!
None of these factors were deterrents to Ted and Melody, who could see beyond the cosmetics and the ill-informed ‘received opinion.’ Amazon was certainly no has-been. After all, the yacht was unrestored, substantially the original hull and fundamentally sound. As if to prove this in April 1997, Amazon sailed from Scotland to a new home in Malta (the furthest she had then been) without difficulty to undergo some repairs and to blossom into the family’s cruising boat and continuing obsession.
This family is very familiar and comfortable with living afloat; son George is an intelligent and engaging 12-year-old and has taken a year off from school to travel here with his father. George’s mother and 10-year-old sister, who are in Malta, will be coming to Mystic Seaport to spend the Christmas holiday. Melody’s career in Malta is financing this voyage.
When asked about how George and he will adapt to our New England winter weather, Ted professes they will enjoy the cold and crisp air. Perhaps we’ll check back with them in February!
Although the Museum’s visitors cannot board Amazon, Ted and George are happy to share their knowledge of her history in friendly conversation with those who stop by to have a look. Believe me, it’s a treat talking to Ted and George.
Blog written by volunteer, Trudi Busey.