Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Restored schooner to dock in San Francisco this summer

May 21, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO - An aging schooner that has withstood a shipwreck and dry rot will soon be ready for its next mission: tourist attraction.

The 111-year-old sailing schooner C.A. Thayer has been rebuilt from the keel up. The project, which cost between $12 million and $15 million and has taken two years, is one of the largest and most complicated restoration jobs on a wooden vessel in U.S. history.

The 219-foot Thayer will return to the Hyde Street Pier in San Francisco this summer.

"She is almost like a new ship," said William Elliott, general manager of Bay Ship and Yacht Co., the contractor handling the restoration.

The Thayer is the last of roughly 200 wooden wind-powered schooners that hauled lumber on the West Coast. The Thayer carried some of the lumber that rebuilt San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake and fire.

It was retired roughly a half-century ago and started to fail in the 1980s while it was being used to teach children about sailing.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation named the Thayer as one of America's 10 most endangered landmarks more than a decade ago.

Elliott said more than 100,000 hours were spent on the rebuilding and another year's worth of upgrades and repairs will be needed when the ship docks this summer.

"It is very, very labor intensive," Elliott said. "We took it apart piece by piece and then put it back together, so that when someone steps aboard in the year 2050 it will be the same ship as it was when it was built in 1895."


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