Sirwin
Sirwin

The schooner. Western Union. Key West flagship.

By lannabeiker | Lanna Beiker's Notes | 24 Oct 2022


Key West, Florida, United States

 

Approaching the embankment of the pier, we saw just such an arch at the entrance, on which is written: Schooner "Western Union". Flagship of Key West.
At first I thought that this was the name of the port, without paying any attention to this name.

Later, when I began to read about Key West and about the port, I learned that this is the name of one of the oldest schooners that was moored in the port of Key West.
I started looking for where I can read about this schooner, so that next time I will definitely ride it, because I really love everything historical, and it turned out that this schooner was last sailing along the embankment and carried tourists in 2018-2019.

 

Key West, Florida, United States

 

The history and name of the schooner is interesting.
It was the last large ship built in Key West proper in 1938 and launched for service in 1939.
She was named "Western Union" because she was built for the eponymous company and maintained and repaired submarine telegraph cables along the Gulf coast.
From Key West to Cuba, from Key West to Venezuela and all the way to Havelson, Texas.

Key West, Florida, United States

 

Key West, Florida, United States

The schooner was later renamed "The New Way" by a Philadelphia group known as Vision Quest.
They took young people who were in trouble with the law and trained them in maritime and teamwork instead of being sent to a detention center.
After years of service there, the schooner finally returned to Key West, where she spent her last years leading guests on day sails, sunset cruises and stargazing tours.

 

Key West, Florida, United States

 

Key West, Florida, United States

 

In 2019, they decided to repair the schooner. In fact, to restore and launch again so that she continues her work with tourists.
But in 2020, a global pandemic began.
The tourist season was interrupted and there were periods of economic survival, when money could not be obtained for things like repairing an old schooner.

Key West, Florida, United States

A group of volunteers in Key West have created a community that raises money for renovations.
And they collected a significant amount, but it is still not enough for a full-fledged restoration.
The ship continued to stand motionless in the port and continued to rot in the rain and bad weather.

Another moment and blow for the volunteer movement to restore the oldest ship is the death of two of the oldest community organizers that happened in the last 2 years.
Volunteers turned to the leadership of the State of Florida for support.
Maybe the state itself will help?

But then a month ago, the strongest hurricane Yan passed, which hit Florida with all its might, and, in particular, Key West.
I saw pictures of the flood in the city, when the sea broke its banks and flooded the houses of the town, turning the streets of the city into raging rivers.

The schooner was rescued and preserved.

This is how it looks now after the last hurricane.

Key West, Florida, United States

 

Key West, Florida, United States

Key West, Florida, United States

 

The heart shrinks, looking at the 80-year-old schooner in this state.
I understand everything about ships, once they get old and decommissioned from their work, and then they are abandoned or destroyed.
But I really want to find money, to find a rich person who would help restore this wonderful historic schooner, which worked its long years in the waters of Key West, has served its purpose and is now ready to ride tourists at dawn and dusk in the waters of Key West .

I hope to ride this schooner after it is restored and launched again.
The people who worked on it are still alive.
They have a community group on Facebook.
You can follow the fate of that schooner and participate in its restoration.

https://www.facebook.com/schoonerwesternunion/

 

Key West, Florida, United States

 

Check out the first post about our trip to Key West here:

1. Trip to Key West, Florida.
2. Willie T's restaurant and bar on Key West.
3. Historic Port of Key West (Key West Bight Marina).

To be continued...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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lannabeiker
lannabeiker

I am Lanna. I like to travel. Traveled to 40 countries and on two cruises. I love running, I run 5-7-10 km. I love the gym and exercise equipment. I write about my life and what I see.


Lanna Beiker's Notes
Lanna Beiker's Notes

Traveling, including cruises, notes from life in other countries, fitness, a healthy lifestyle, running and marathons, films and actors, pets and gardening.

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