The Washingtonian

By Ellsworth Boyd

                   
         
Is it a reality or just a rumor that ivory tusks were aboard the Washingtonian when she sank off Fenwick Island, Delaware in 1915?Leo McLaughlin, Baltimore, Maryland

Leo asked this not long after a memo, purportedly from the Atlantic Mutual Insurance Company, came across my desk: The Washingtonian, owned by the American-Hawaiian Steamship Company, was sailing from Honolulu to Delaware, with a cargo of sugar and other merchandise, when it collided with the schooner Elizabeth Palmer and sank off the Delaware coast. Some of the other merchandise in the memo included two elephant tusks packed in mahogany boxes. The tusks were 11 feet long, weighed 40 pounds each and sported silver caps on both ends. The White House crest was hand-carved on the mahogany boxes, leading historians to believe they were a gift from a foreign government official to President Woodrow Wilson.

Divers, who have probed the 100-foot depths of the Washingtonian for years, have brought up countless artifacts, including brass and china, but no ivory tusks were ever salvaged.

If Delaware, Maryland and Virginia divers haven't seen Dan Berg's new chart depicting a wide assortment of wrecks off their coasts, they're in for a real treat. More than 50 wrecks are portrayed, including the Washingtonian and the Elizabeth Palmer, in authentic color drawings. The chart, suitable for framing as well as a resource, is available from Aqua Explorers, Inc., 980 Church St., Baldwin, NY 11510. E-mail: wreckvalle@aol.com, or visit the website at www.aquaexplorers.com.

Rita Johnson of Syracuse, New York, wants to learn more about underwater preserves and dive sites along the New York shores of Lakes Ontario and Erie, and the St. Lawrence Seaway.
In May 2000, the Oswego Maritime Foundation and New York Sea Grant collaborated to establish the first preserve. Marty Williams, Tom Rasbeck, Phil Church, Jim Walker, Dale Currier and Steve Williams were present for the underwater ribbon cutting. They officially designated the first state preserve in Lake Ontario as the New York State David W. Mills Cultural Preserve and Dive Site. The Mills, a 202-foot wooden steamer, sank in 1919 in 25 feet of water on Ford Shoal, four miles west of Oswego Harbor. A mooring buoy identifies the site, accompanied by a hazard buoy on the ship's boiler.

When Frank and Donna Nawrocki of Buffalo, New York, asked about the Prince Frederick, a wooden, three-masted steamship sunk off Cayman Brac, I immediately thought of Cathy Church, the photo pro at Sunset House, Grand Cayman. She and her friend, Margaret, dug up some interesting information at the local museum. The Prince Frederick, a 110-foot Norwegian trade ship, ran aground off the south shore of Cayman Brac in 1895 while returning from South America in ballast (no cargo).

A fire in the galley burned the ship to the waterline, while the captain and crew were being rescued by fishermen. Two of the crew stayed on the island and married local women. Divers explore the remains of the wreck today in 20 to 40 feet of water, where the anchor, chain, a windlass and ballast stones are strewn among the coral.

Ray Fletcher of Miami, Florida, has an interesting request. Ray says, In the late 1970s, my cousin was engaged to a gentleman named Mike Baldwin who, along with his uncle, started a lucrative South Florida trash hauling company. They sold the company several years later and bought a 55-foot motor yacht owned under the name of Mazula.
Just before Christmas, 1973, the yacht was lost in a storm while on a brief cruise to the Bahamas. My cousin was distraught when the U.S. Coast Guard found the yacht sunk in an out-island lagoon. There were no survivors from this mishap, which left a hole in the bottom of the boat, a life raft on shore and a doll as the only remaining possessions. This story was featured in a book about the Bermuda Triangle, and I am interested in trying to locate the yacht and perhaps to dive on it. Where do I start?

I assume that Mazula is the former owner's name, not the name of the yacht. Check this out and then try to find Baldwin's uncle, who owned the trash company, and see if it's still in business. See where this leads and then try the U.S. Coast Guard. Read all you can about the Bermuda Triangle and see if you can find the story you mentioned. You have a time reference, which is good, but not the vessel's name. If you can find it, this could be the major piece in helping solve the whole puzzle.

          Is it a reality or just a rumor that ivory tusks were aboard the Washingtonian when she sank off Fenwick Island, Delaware in 1915?Leo McLaughlin, Baltimore, Maryland

Leo asked this not long after a memo, purportedly from the Atlantic Mutual Insurance Company, came across my desk: The Washingtonian, owned by the American-Hawaiian Steamship Company, was sailing from Honolulu to Delaware, with a cargo of sugar and other merchandise, when it collided with the schooner Elizabeth Palmer and sank off the Delaware coast. Some of the other merchandise in the memo included two elephant tusks packed in mahogany boxes. The tusks were 11 feet long, weighed 40 pounds each and sported silver caps on both ends. The White House crest was hand-carved on the mahogany boxes, leading historians to believe they were a gift from a foreign government official to President Woodrow Wilson.

Divers, who have probed the 100-foot depths of the Washingtonian for years, have brought up countless artifacts, including brass and china, but no ivory tusks were ever salvaged.

If Delaware, Maryland and Virginia divers haven't seen Dan Berg's new chart depicting a wide assortment of wrecks off their coasts, they're in for a real treat. More than 50 wrecks are portrayed, including the Washingtonian and the Elizabeth Palmer, in authentic color drawings. The chart, suitable for framing as well as a resource, is available from Aqua Explorers, Inc., 980 Church St., Baldwin, NY 11510. E-mail: wreckvalle@aol.com, or visit the website at www.aquaexplorers.com.

Rita Johnson of Syracuse, New York, wants to learn more about underwater preserves and dive sites along the New York shores of Lakes Ontario and Erie, and the St. Lawrence Seaway.
In May 2000, the Oswego Maritime Foundation and New York Sea Grant collaborated to establish the first preserve. Marty Williams, Tom Rasbeck, Phil Church, Jim Walker, Dale Currier and Steve Williams were present for the underwater ribbon cutting. They officially designated the first state preserve in Lake Ontario as the New York State David W. Mills Cultural Preserve and Dive Site. The Mills, a 202-foot wooden steamer, sank in 1919 in 25 feet of water on Ford Shoal, four miles west of Oswego Harbor. A mooring buoy identifies the site, accompanied by a hazard buoy on the ship's boiler.

When Frank and Donna Nawrocki of Buffalo, New York, asked about the Prince Frederick, a wooden, three-masted steamship sunk off Cayman Brac, I immediately thought of Cathy Church, the photo pro at Sunset House, Grand Cayman. She and her friend, Margaret, dug up some interesting information at the local museum. The Prince Frederick, a 110-foot Norwegian trade ship, ran aground off the south shore of Cayman Brac in 1895 while returning from South America in ballast (no cargo).

A fire in the galley burned the ship to the waterline, while the captain and crew were being rescued by fishermen. Two of the crew stayed on the island and married local women. Divers explore the remains of the wreck today in 20 to 40 feet of water, where the anchor, chain, a windlass and ballast stones are strewn among the coral.

Ray Fletcher of Miami, Florida, has an interesting request. Ray says, In the late 1970s, my cousin was engaged to a gentleman named Mike Baldwin who, along with his uncle, started a lucrative South Florida trash hauling company. They sold the company several years later and bought a 55-foot motor yacht owned under the name of Mazula.
Just before Christmas, 1973, the yacht was lost in a storm while on a brief cruise to the Bahamas. My cousin was distraught when the U.S. Coast Guard found the yacht sunk in an out-island lagoon. There were no survivors from this mishap, which left a hole in the bottom of the boat, a life raft on shore and a doll as the only remaining possessions. This story was featured in a book about the Bermuda Triangle, and I am interested in trying to locate the yacht and perhaps to dive on it. Where do I start?

I assume that Mazula is the former owner's name, not the name of the yacht. Check this out and then try to find Baldwin's uncle, who owned the trash company, and see if it's still in business. See where this leads and then try the U.S. Coast Guard. Read all you can about the Bermuda Triangle and see if you can find the story you mentioned. You have a time reference, which is good, but not the vessel's name. If you can find it, this could be the major piece in helping solve the whole puzzle.