The Moshulu

December 1st, 2017 | Destination: | Rubric: Tall ships, Yacht of the Month |

Moshulu at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia © Acroterion/cc-by-3.0

Moshulu at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia © Acroterion/cc-by-3.0

Moshulu (ex Kurt) is a four-masted steel barque built by William Hamilton and Company on the River Clyde in Scotland in 1904. The largest remaining original windjammer, she is currently a floating restaurant docked in Penn’s Landing, Philadelphia, adjacent to the museum ships USS Olympia and USS Becuna. Originally named Kurt after Dr. Kurt Siemers, director general and president of the Hamburg shipping company G. H. J. Siemers & Co., she was, along with her sistership Hans, one of the last four-masted steel barques to be built on the Clyde, (Archibald Russell was launched in 1905). Constructed for G. H. J. Siemers & Co. to be used in the nitrate trade, at a cost of £36,000, she was launched in 1904. Her first master was Captain Christian Schütt, followed by Captain Wolfgang H. G. Tönissen in 1908 who made a fast voyage from Newcastle, Australia, to Valparaíso with a cargo of coal in 31 days. Between 1904 and 1914, under German ownership, Kurt shipped coal from Wales to South America, nitrate from Chile to Germany, coal from Australia to Chile, and coke and patent fuel from Germany to Santa Rosalía, Mexico.

On the outbreak of World War I in 1914, Kurt was sailed to Oregon under the command of Captain Tönissen, then laid up in Astoria until being seized when the United States entered the war in 1917. She was first renamed Dreadnought (“one who fears nothing”), then, because there was already a sailing ship of that name registered in the US, she was renamed the Moshulu (which had the same meaning in the Seneca language) by the First Lady of the United States and wife of President Woodrow Wilson, Edith Wilson. Between 1917 and 1920, Moshulu was owned by the U.S. Shipping Board and carried wool and chrome between North America, Manila and Australia.

© State Library of Victoria - Allan C. Green Moshulu at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia © Acroterion/cc-by-3.0 Moshulu at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia © N. Johannes
Moshulu at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia © Acroterion/cc-by-3.0
From 1920 to 1935, Moshulu was in various private hands based in San Francisco. From 1920 to 1922, it was owned by the Moshulu Navigation Co. (Charles Nelson & Co.), San Francisco; in 1922, it was sold to James Tyson of San Francisco; and, in 1922, it was repurchased by Charles Nelson. The big four-masted barque ran in the timber trade along the U.S. west coast to Australia and South Africa from 1920 to 1928. After her last timber run to Melbourne and Geelong, Australia, in 1928, she was laid up in Los Angeles; later on, she was kept in places in or near Seattle in Washington: Lake Union, Winslow (Puget Sound), and Esquimalt in British Columbia, Canada 100 nautical miles (190 km) north west of Seattle. In 1935, the Moshulu was bought for $12,000 by Gustaf Erikson. On 14 March 1935, when the contract was signed, Captain Gunnar Boman took over the ship and sailed it to Port Victoria. Gustaf Erikson had her operate in the grain trade from Australia to Europe. In 1937, John Albright sailed on her as a young seaman. During the period of Erikson ownership the working language of the ship was Swedish, even though it sailed under the Finnish flag. The ship’s home port at the time, Mariehamn, is in the Swedish-speaking Åland Islands of Finland. At the end of 1938, the ship left Belfast for Port Lincoln and Port Victoria, in South Australia, under the command of Captain Mikael Sjögren and with later to be famous travel writer Eric Newby, then aged 18, on board as an apprentice seaman. Moshulu arrived in Queenstown (Cobh, Ireland) on June 10, 1939, after 91 days at sea, winning the very last race of square-rigged sailing ships between Australia and Europe.

The ship was seized by the Germans in 1940 when she returned to Kristiansand, Norway, again under the command of Captain Mikael Sjögren and with a cargo of wheat from Buenos Aires. She was derigged step-by-step in the 1940s, and, after having capsized in a storm close to shore at a beach in Østervik near Narvik in 1947, she was demasted by a salvaging company to be re-erected, stabilized, and towed to Bergen in July 1948. The ship’s hull was sold to Trygve Sommerfeldt of Oslo. A few months later, the ship was transferred to Sweden to be used as a grain store in Stockholm from 1948 to 1952. Then she was sold to the German shipowner Heinz Schliewen, who wanted to put her back to use under the name Oplag as a merchant marine training ship carrying cargo. Schliewen already used the four-masted steel barques Pamir and Passat (both former Flying P-Liners) for that purpose, but before Moshulu was re-rigged, Schliewen went into bankruptcy. In 1953 Moshulu was sold to the Swedish Farmers’ State Union (Svenska Lantmännens Riksförbund) of Stockholm, and again it was used as a floating warehouse beginning on 16 November 1953. In 1961, the Finnish government bought the ship for 3,200 tons of Russian rye; she was towed to Naantali, a town near Turku, and she continued to be used as a grain warehouse. In 1970, the ship was bought by the American Specialty Restaurants Corporation, who rigged her out in the Netherlands with phony masts, yards, and lines and eventually towed her to South Street Seaport, New York City. Other sources have it that The Walt Disney Company bought the ship but soon transferred it to the American “Specialty Restaurants Corporation”.

Read more on Moshulu and Wikipedia Moshulu. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organizations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide.

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