In an annual effort to prepare the Flagship Niagara for the summer sailing season, the ship’s volunteer crew will don their work clothes this Friday and Saturday, March 19th and 20th to remove the ship’s winter cover. Originally scheduled for removal on Saturday, March 27th, the project has been moved earlier due to the weather forecast for the next ten days.
Made of steel posts, wooden beams, and traditional canvas, the ship’s winter cover is designed to protect the ship during strong winter gales and heavy ice and snow. The volunteer and professional crewmembers will begin removing canvas at 11am on Friday, March 19, and will remove the cover’s framing on Saturday.
“This Saturday marks the beginning of the 20th sailing season for the Flagship Niagara, and we intend to celebrate it by sailing more, taking more people out on the water, and delivering our educational cargo to more people this year than ever before” said Capt. Wesley Heerssen. “To do this, we need to get the ship prepared for sailing earlier than ever before. This was an El Nino winter…shorter and milder than usual, and we intend to take advantage of the early spring. We’re going to uncover the ship this weekend with volunteers, then get the ship cleaned up for the seasonal crew to move onboard when they arrive in Erie next weekend. With any luck, we’ll only see a couple inches of wet snow in late March, which we’ll have to plod our way through, and then we’ll rig up the ship in time for sailing on April 29th.”
“The public are, as always, invited to volunteer as ship’s crew, and it’s never too late to get started. This Saturday, new and prospective volunteers are asked to show up at the rear entrance to the Erie Maritime Museum, directly at the dock, alongside the ship, at 9am. New volunteers should ask for the Chief Mate, Billy Sabatini, and he’ll get them signed up and started” said Capt. Heerssen.