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Falls of Clyde Boat

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Falls of Clyde

The Falls of Clyde is the last surviving full rigged, iron hulled, 4 masted ship and the only remaining sail driven oil tanker. In 1989 she was designated as a U.S. National Historic Landmark. Today she is a museum ship in Honolulu, Hawaii. Currently the ship is not open to the public, and in late 2008 the ownership was transferred to a new nonprofit organization that intends to restore her.

The Falls of Clyde was built in 1878 and launched as the first of nine iron hulled four masted ships for Wright and Breakenridge's Fall Line. The ship got its name from a group of waterfalls on the River Clyde, and was built for worldwide trading. The first six years of service were in the Indian trade routes. After that she became a “tramp”, that is to say carrying general cargo such as; lumber, jute, cement, and some wheat. She visited ports from Australia, New Zealand, India, California and the British isles.

After her 21 years as a British merchant ship, she was sold to Capt. William Matson, of Matson Navigation Company. She was then taken to Honolulu, Hawaii and registered under the Hawaiian Flag. In order to economize the crew, Captain Matson rigged the ship down. He replaced the 5 yards on her Jigger Mast with two more easily managed fore and aft sails. He then added a deck house, chart house, and added quarters for paying passengers in the aft section. From the years of 1899 to 1907 she made more than 60 voyages between Hilo, Hawaii and San Francisco, California. She would bring general merchandise west to Hawaii, while carrying sugar east to California, and passengers both directions. She gained a reputation for being a fast, handy and commodious vessel making the trip in 17 days, on average, one way.

In 1907, the Falls of Clyde was purchased by the Associated Oil Company and converted to a bulk oil tanker with a 19,000 barrel capacity. The outfitted her with 10 large steel containers in her hull as well as a pump room, boiler, and generator. This configuration allowed her to bring kerosene to Hawaii and take molasses to be used in cattle feed back to the U.S. Mainland. Then in 1927 she was sold once again, this time to the General Petroleum Company. The masts were cut down and she was converted to a floating fuel depot in Alaska.

At the end of October 1963, within days of being scuttled, the former chief mate Fred Klebingat raised interest in the ship in Hawaii. After raising the funds the ship was taken undertow to Honolulu. The Falls of Clyde was given to the Bishop Museum and opened to the public in 1968. In 1970, the grandson of the original designer was engaged to help with the restoration. His shipyard in Port Glasgow donated new steel masts, topgallants, jib, and spanker booms from Oregon pine. In 1973 the ship was listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and in 1989 became a National Historic Landmark.