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Ship Made from CSJ's 350-Year-Old Swamp White Oak Is Launched
by Sister Mary Ellen Putnam, CSJ (Sister George Ann)
Greta Wagle, project manager, and Don Rittner, Schenectady County Historian, the dreamers for this project, stood proudly as Greta christened the ship with a bottle of beer made in the Netherlands, as was their custom. The large crowd cheered and clapped as Don read the names of the contributors and volunteers with special thanks to the Sisters of St. Joseph for their donation of a 350-year-old Swamp Oak. I was bursting with pride for us!
After securing large, heavy bands around the middle and back of the ship to balance the weight distribution, the biggest crane I’ve ever seen began to lift the masterpiece off the flatbed, over the bank and into the Mohawk River. Lock 8 had to be closed, and Lock 9 opened in the morning to raise the river two feet to accommodate the depth of the rudder.
The captain ,Gioia Blix, a petite, energetic woman, boarded the ONRUST and disappeared into the hold to check for any problems while a tugboat waited nearby, and several boaters watched in awe. Once the ship was approved as seaworthy, Gioia would pilot her up to Lock 9 for a celebration. Gioia told me, “I need to learn her moves, motions and quirks if we are to work together.” The ONRUST will be docked at the Maybee Farm for the next several days, so that the last touches can be completed.
Watch your local news and newspapers for schedules of when the ONRUST will be sailing. On June 6, she will sail to New York and lead several Tall Ships to Albany for the 400th anniversary of the Hudson River.
Since the ONRUST will be used as a teaching museum, sailing the Mohawk and Hudson River, our legacy of teaching will continue through our very own Swamp Oak and gifting of the trunnels. What a wonderful, auspicious day!
The OnRust as it is being lowered into the river on May 20, 2009