Seaport ships survive hurricane, but museum is damaged

BY KAITLYN MEADE | Miraculously, the vessels docked at South Street Seaport Museum, located at 12 Fulton St., fared better during hurricane Sandy than many of the landlocked businesses nearby. All seven ships made it through the storm with little to no damage.

In a press release issued by the South Street Seaport Museum on Wednesday, Susan Henshaw Jones, the museum’s president, said, “At the South Street Seaport Museum, all the vessels rode out Hurricane Sandy and the surge with very little difficulty, thanks to days of preparation and a right-on-the-money calculation about the amount of slack needed for the lines securing the Peking, the Wavertree, and the Ambrose to Pier 15 and Pier 16.”

Captain Jonathan Boulware, the museum’s waterfront director, and his crew logged about 350 hours of work over the weekend before the storm to properly secure the ships. The work paid off, as the lines endured a direct hit from the storm surge on Pier 16.

The docked vessels include the historic vessels the Ambrose, the Wavertree, the Peking, the W.O. Decker, as well as a car float, the barge Progress and the Pioneer’s dock. Two of the Seaport Museum’s vessels, the schooner Pioneer and the Fredonia-model fishing schooner, the Lettie G. Howard, were not in Lower Manhattan during the storm because they were previously moved elsewhere for repairs.

Dedicated staff volunteers made storm preparations at the museum throughout the weekend, sandbagging and taping the windows. A few staff members stayed at the museum overnight during Sandy despite the evacuation notice for the entire neighborhood.

“We are extremely grateful for the hard work and of our staff and volunteers who went to great lengths to prepare us for Sandy,” said Henshaw Jones.

The South Street Seaport Museum building reportedly sustained damage from about five feet of flooding on the first floor, which houses the lobby, ticket stand, food cart and gift shop. The exhibitions and collections, however, escaped harm. The museum will remained closed for the next few days while it is without power.

Many of the buildings in the South Street Seaport historic district also sustained heavy flood damage. The museum reported the letterpresses and type at Bowne & Co., Stationers, the museum’s old-fashioned printing house, was damaged by two and a half feet of floodwater.


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