How Unlucky Can a Ship Be?

Credits: Jens Rademacher/Unsplash

Following up on a 1923 newspaper article about a four-masted schooner, the Estelle Krieger, being stranded off Ship Bottom, a search of the New Jersey Maritime Museum records showed the ship was launched in 1899 but originally called the Mary T. Quinby. Remembering the old sailor’s adage that changing a ship’s name brings bad luck and misfortune, the story of the Estelle Krieger begins.

Changing a ship’s name brings bad luck?!

After 11 years as the Mary T. Quinby, the name change took place during an overhaul at Philadelphia in August 1910. On the 15th, the Baltimore Sun reported on the proposed maiden voyage with the new name.

By the change of ownership, she is now in charge of Captain Reamie and is bound from Philadelphia for San Juan and Ponce P.R. (Puerto Rico). She will return to this port with a cargo of phosphate rock from Port Tampa.”

The voyage to Puerto Rico was uneventful. From there the ship sailed to Tampa and began the return trip around Florida to Maryland.

The Sun reported on Feb. 11, 1911 that something had gone wrong.

The schooner Estelle Krieger, at Key West leaking, may continue her trip from Port Tampa in tow to Baltimore. She is loaded with phosphate rock.”

The next day the Boston Globe reported the problem was more than just leaking.

The sea-going tug Underwriter left yesterday afternoon on one of the longest towing jobs ever undertaken by a Boston tug. She is bound to Key West to pick up the schooner Estelle Krieger and tow her to Baltimore. The tug will coal at Newport News, and she is expected to reach Key West in six days. The Estelle Krieger, which was formerly the Mary T. Quinby and is now owned by Crowell & Thurlow of this city was bound from Port Tampa, Florida to Baltimore with phosphate rocks. She ran aground on the Marqueses Reef.”

The rescue mission

The Globe followed the rescue mission.

The ocean tug Underwriter, Captain McKinnon, which sailed from here February 1st for Key West, arrived there at 4:00 PM yesterday and sailed today with the crippled Boston schooner Estelle Krieger, which the tug will tow to Baltimore. The Krieger recently struck the Marqueses Reef.”

The Sun reported on March 22 that the schooner was back in Boston, saying, “After extensive repairs made necessary by being ashore in the Gulf of Mexico, the big 4 masted schooner Estelle Krieger of Boston, was lowered from Woodall’s drydock. The balance of repairs will be done afloat.”

The next voyage out of Boston also ended at the end of a tow line. The Globe of Jan. 18, 1912 explained, “The four masted schooner Estelle Krieger, Captain Reamie was towed into the lower harbor last night by the tug Neponset, which brought her from Vineyard Haven. The Krieger came originally from Humacoa P.R. and is loaded with 5000 barrels of molasses, one of the largest cargoes of the kind ever carried by a vessel of her size. On the passage from the tropics, she ran into terrific weather, in which she was shorn of many of her sails, damaged her standing rigging and received a bad washing. She managed to work her way into the Vineyard and the Naponset was sent to bring her to Boston.”

Once refitted, the schooner returned to the coastal trade, but bad luck soon struck again. The Fall River, Mass. Globe of March 8, 1916 carried “Schooner Estelle Krieger, oil laden, from Port Arthur, Texas to Boston, was towed into port today by Coast Guard cutter Acushnet, which picked her up last night at the entrance of Vineyard Sound. The Krieger reported the loss of several sails, part of her headgear and a broken windlass. She will make temporary repairs here and proceed to her destination.”

More ambitious voyages

The Bangor Daily News, a Maine newspaper, of March 29, 1916 revealed that the schooner was also making several more ambitious voyages.

Captain William T. Reamie who arrived from Boston on Wednesday morning of last week, returned to that city Monday accompanied by Mrs. Reamie. The captain’s vessel the four masted schooner Estelle Krieger will make another trip to the Gold Coast of Africa. Captain Reamie will have a substitute for this trip which will mean that he will spend some length of time at his home here.”

What was the cargo being carried to Africa? The Missionary Herald of Boston revealed “In the hold of the four masted schooner Estelle Krieger of Boston are 210,000 gallons of New England rum, bound for the West Coast of Africa, contribution toward the redemption of the Dark Continent. It will work incalculable harm, as it is sure to be doctored and made yet more deadly in its effects. At every port where it is distributed, it will be like the letting loose of hell upon the susceptible and unprotected natives.”

The schooner’s Africa trips continued even after the commencement of World War I. The Bangor paper gave an update in March 1918.

Mrs. W.E. Reamie who left January 17th to join her husband in New York upon his return from a trip to the Gold Coast of Africa in his vessel the four masted schooner Estelle Krieger recently wrote friends. … At the time the letter was written the vessel was on a dry dock at Perth Amboy NJ for overhauling before leaving on her long voyage.”

The final 10 years in the saga of the Estelle Krieger would see it leave Perth Amboy, run aground off Ship Bottom and face the unkindest fate for any ship, with its final destination being Bayonne, N.J.

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Source: The Sand Paper


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