|William A. R. Chapin (Bill)|
Friend and shipmate crewing Adventure on our return sail 1988
|Composite photos of "Bill" Chapin crewing Adventure 1988|
|Portuguese Blessing of the Fleet, 1947|
Community Fish Pier, Gloucester, MA
|Original F/V Joseph & Lucia|
Built 1944 at the James Shipyard, Essex, Mass.
Capt. Giuseppe Brancaleone
F/V & Lucia II
Brancaleone family vessel
of the 60s, 70s, & 80s
Capt. Antonino "Nino" Brancaleone
|F/V Joseph & Lucia III|
Capt. Gaetano "Tommy" Brancaleone
70s & 80s
Scenes of General Seafood's Wharf
⚓ ⚓ ⚓
⚓ ⚓ ⚓
Favaloro family vessel
Of all the 1940s commercial fishing vessels (side trawlers) that were launched from the Essex building ways of John Prince Story Shipyard and later his grandson Jonathan Story, "in my opinion", the F/V Julie Ann was the best designed of similar hulls produced by both builders.
Ron Gilson - 2019
The F/V Julie Ann launched 5/5/46 for Capt./owner Leo Favaloro, measured 93'x22'x11.5', powered with a 350 h.p. Cooper Bessemer heavy duty marine diesel, equipped with Hathaway trawl winch, Hathaway deck gear, and the latest electronics. F/V Julie Ann was a highline addition to the growing post WWII Gloucester fleet of modern fishing vessels.
⚓ ⚓ ⚓
Erik Ronnberg's model of the
F/V Bright Star
Last fishing vessel constructed at the James Shipyard - April 5, 1947
Builder Fred Head - 71.6' x 19.4' x 10.8'
Recently, at the Cape Ann Museum, Ron and Erik Ronnberg, the museum's Maritime Curator, and a renowned ship model builder, discussed his 1947 era model F/V Bright Star that Erik created
Essex Shipbuilding Museum
Adventure lecture and slide presentation
Gloucester's famous Greasy Pole
One of the popular sporting events of the annual St. Peter's Fiesta celebration. In the background is Gloucester's new Beauport Hotel facing the outer harbor.
Ben Pine's Atlantic Supply Wharf
Gloucester's urban renewal area of the 1960s
Wharf Street "Harbor Loop"
Site of Geno Mondello's Dory Shop
United Fisheries background
Gorton's Machine Shop Wharf
F/V Conquest - Capt. Joaquim Gaspar
Today's location of the Cruiseport
F/V Benjamin C., Launching day 1946
Dana Story Essex Shipyard
Benjamin C. . . OVERBOARD!! . . . undertow
F/V Joffre, 1918
Builder - A.D. Story Shipyard
105' dory trawler converted to dragger in 1940, sailing under command of Capt. Simon Theriault and First Mate Donald Laurie, Sr. in 1945.
F/V JOFFRE TO THE RESCUEOn a Wednesday night, December 12, 1945, the F/V Gale, one of General Seafoods Corp. Boston vessels, went ashore on Sable Island Bar, known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic”. The Gale, Capt. Douglas Schwartz, with 17 men aboard, was feared doomed in a raging 80 m.p.h. snow storm, caught in shifting sands off Sable Island, Nova Scotia. The crew wanted to escape the powerful running tides and storming breakers that suck and break up a captured vessel. Capt. Simon Theriault and crew, steaming in the F/V Joffre 15 miles away, heard the Gale’s SOS and made radio contact. Theriault and mate Donald Laurie, huddled around their ship to shore radio telephone and convinced the 17-man crew to remain aboard the Gale……the winds will shift, the tide recede, and the breakers will abate hours later, allowing the crew to take to their dories in mid-afternoon and row to the rescue vessel, beam trawler Breaker, with Capt. Halley of their General Seafoods Corp. All 17 members of the Gale crew were saved. They all thanked God, Capt. Theriault and mate Donald Laurie for their sage advice.
Manuel P. "Jeff" Domingos, Jr., President of the United Fisheries
Portuguese Leader in the 1940s & 50s
My boyhood friend and waterfront mentor
Escaping Portugal in 1942 (WWII) arriving on a tramp steamer in Baltimore, MD made his way to the family home in Gloucester on Herrick Court arriving at 11:00a.m. DaCruz left that same night fishing on the family vessel at 6:00p.m. out of New Bedford, Mass.
MY BEST FRIEND
Highline Capt. Joaquim Gaspar
In my opinion, Gaspar was the most creative forward-thinking innovator in the developing fishing fleet of the 40s & 50s
Ron Gilson - 2019
Highline Capt. Frank Rose
Recognized leader in the Portuguese fishing community 1930s & 40s
Sch. Edith L. Boudreau
Capt. David Ribeiro
Richard Saulnier, Tommy Brancaleone, and Tony DaCruz
Career Waterfront Mechanics
Rose's Boat Yard
⚓ ⚓ ⚓
1623-1923 GLOUCESTER'S GOLDEN AGE OF SAIL considered by many historians, the period that elevated Gloucester's fishing industry to worldwide prominence has been romanticized down through the centuries. While our local supply and demand industry prospered and expanded, in size to 500 vessels in the 1800s, Gloucester's widows and orphans paid the price. This tragic history is graphically portrayed on cenotaphs in front of the famous Gloucester Man at the Wheel statue on the George O. Stacy Boulevard.
The Sch. Gertrude L. Thebaud
Gloucester's famous Fisherman at the Wheel statue. . . looking seaward over cenotaphs, remembering our local fishermen lost at sea over four centuries
Carol A. (Churchill) Maciel
At a recent showing of this blog at Seacoast Nursing Home, Carol A. (Churchill) Maciel came forward at the conclusion of my presentation. She and her Dad, Robert Churchill, sang a hymn at the Fishermen's Memorial service, July 14, 1963.
Holding a framed copy of the memorial program and smiling for the camera, she proudly reminisced about that eventful day over 50 years ago. At this annual tribute, Carol Ann and her Dad honored Gloucester's 5,000+ fishermen lost at sea since 1623.
Knockabout Schooner Helen B. Thomas
Knockabout Schooner Catherine
Largest dory trawler
Designed by Thomas F. McManus
Thomas F. McManus and A.D. Story
at Story's Shipyard, Essex, MA, 1920
THE GREAT NAVAL ARCHITECT, THOMAS MCMANUS, designer of many Gloucester sailing vessels, had this to say about the age of sail: “The vessels were cheap to build, fishermen were abundantly available, safety features were of no concern to vessel owners, and sadly, the vessels and the men that sailed in them were considered expendable”!
DORY FISHING ERA
While nearby fishing communities adopted early innovative changes, i.e., steam and diesel power and experimented with other fishing methods, Gloucester for decades “stood still”, steadfastly clinging to archaic hook and line, tried and true, fish harvesting at the expense of its fishing community population.
Safety features, ship-to-shore radio telephone communication, and weather reporting was not available in those early days. Medical first aid was minimal. Personal hygiene, and lavatory facilities aboard these vessels were non-existent. Living conditions in crowded, damp, stuffy, warm, fo’c’sles were often home to cockroaches and bed bugs. Fresh vegetables, dairy products, and fresh meats were replaced with salt spare ribs, corned shoulder, salt pork, smoked hams, potatoes, canned vegetables, etc.
Men endured primitive living conditions, away from their homes and families, hundreds, thousands of miles, gone two to three months, working 18 hour days, always in unpredictable weather conditions. This often culminated in a broken trip (no pay at all!!) Terrible inhuman conditions were the norm, routinely accepted as a “way of life”! This was dory fishing in the first three hundred years of Gloucester’s fishing history.
Man at the open wheel
Men midship mainsail storm scene
Baiting up on schooner Corinthian
Men on deck in seaway
Men on bowsprit ~ the widowmaker ~
Breakfast ~ first gang ~ dory fishingCirca 1920s
Fo'c'sle scene F/V Ruth and Margaret
A PERIOD OF TRANSITION
Around the turn of the century, 1900, Boston steam trawlers entered the Boston fishing fleet. They were numerous and often fished alongside Gloucester sailing dory trawling schooners. It was the beginning of change in the New England fishing industry.
Rudolph Diesel's Diesel engine was not perfected to the extent required to impact the fishing industry at the turn of the century. By 1910, entrepreneurs, forward thinking fishermen, were beginning to explore and invest in innovative designs in their fishing craft. Combining sail and crude oil engines for power, change was entering the N.E. and Gloucester fleet.
"Changing Ways on Banquero" by Thomas Hoyne
Boston Fish Pier
Showing steam trawler and
Gloucester schooner "Elsie" in foreground
TOTAL CHANGE ~ THE BEGINNING
Thomas McManus in 1921 would design the first "eastern-rig" dragger with pilot house aft and gallow frames for hauling her gear, drag net, over the side similar to Boston steam trawlers. The first of its design, F/V Blanche Ring, was built for Capt. Herbert W. Nickerson. On May 24, 1921, McManus completed Plan No. 417 and delivered working drawings to "Honest Dave" Waddell shipyard in Rockport, Mass. This schooner dragger changed New England fishing completely in the 1920s and predominated the fishing industry for nearly fifty years.
F/V Blanche Ring, Waddell Shipyard
F/V Blanche Ring, sea trails, Boston Harbor
1923 THE TURNING POINT
Gloucester's 300th birthday brought pivotal change to our anchor industry. On April 17, 1923, the last all-sail schooner Columbia was launched from the A.D. Story Shipyard in Essex, MA. It marked the end of an era. Essex records indicate that fishing vessels launched from that date forward were all auxiliary diesel powered.
THE ANSWER WAS . . .
With the launching of the McManus designed side trawler, Blanche Ring in 1921, "the genie was out of the bottle". Side trawling, dragging, was made possible by the refinement of the diesel engine. Dragging provided a safer, more efficient (less crew), quicker method of harvesting much larger volumes of ground fish. There was no turning back! Capt. Matthew Sears (1939) was the first redfish highliner in the F/V Ramonde. It was just the beginning.
Gloucester was on the threshold of its own industrial revolution! The following essentials would come together resulting in the "Golden Age of Fishing", 1940-1955.
1. The refined heavy duty diesel engine became available in the late 1920s.
Advanced version, heavy-duty diesel engine of the 40s & 50s
2. Redfish (bottom fish) were discovered in the 1930s.
Scenes of General Seafoods Wharf
Harbor Cove, 1947
3. Dragging (outer trawling) provided the means to catch this untapped species in volume.
F/V Joseph & Lucia II
Deck Load of Redfish
4. Birdseye's flash freezing, invented in the late 1920s, allowed volume catches of redfish to be processed daily. The fresh frozen fish market made salt fish products obsolete. Flash freezing refrigeration forever changed Gloucester's fishing industry.
Grand opening, June 12, 1942
Gloucester's newest redfish processing plant began operation on Commercial Street, (formerly the Clarence Birdseye property). It would prove to be a major processor on our newly developing post depression waterfront, all part of the rise of the redfish era - GLOUCESTER'S GOLDEN AGE OF FISHING 1940 - 1955.
⚓ ⚓ ⚓
Haulback F/V Maryanne
Capt. Ollie Palazola
St. Peter's weekend, time off for family outing
F/V St. Peter
Capts. Joe Giacalone & Bike Scola
Launched A.D. Story Shipyard, Essex, Mass. 1927
Early example of diesel-powered transition vessel entering Gloucester's fleet in the late 1920s
F/V St. Mary
Capts. Dominic Spinola . . . son Emilio
Engineer Michael Spinola
Builder Harvey Gamage Shipyard 1951
Capt. Accursio "Gussie" Balbo & sons Danny and Joe
Day boat Whiting Fisherman
A typical fishing family
A typical fishing family
GLOUCESTER . . . A City of Immigrants!
We all come from another place. In early years, Canadian Maritime fisherman migrated south to Gloucester seeking better economic fishing opportunities. Portuguese fisherman, fishing the Grand Banks from their native Portugal and Azores homeland, soon found Gloucester as their second home. Irish in the early days populated our Fort section of Gloucester prior to our present day ~ turn of the century, Italian fishing community inhabitants .
Highliner . . . F/V Caroline & Mary
Capt. Joe Rose
Fisheries Redfishing & Swordfishing
Ben Pines F/V Puritan
Capt. Oscar Ribeiro
F/V Catherine L. Brown
Capt. Louis "Louie" Brown
Highline Redfisherman of the 1940s
As a general observation, the Canadian and Portuguese fishermen were offshore fishermen. The Nova Scotias and Newfoundlanders were very familiar with their North Atlantic fishing grounds. The Portuguese found Gloucester's closer proximity to their traditional fishing grounds "The Grand Banks" much more advantageous and eventually settled in our Ward II Portuguese Hill area.
The Italian fishermen following in their European tradition were more inclined to fish the inshore fishery. For decades in early years, they excelled in inshore fishing and gradually moved into mackerel seining, again following the inshore areas but venturing further south in the early spring to catch mackerel as they traditionally moved north as the climate/waters warmed. As we moved into the decades of the '40s & '50s, Italian fishermen ventured into the offshore fishery as well.
Traditionally, the Canadian fishermen were North Atlantic ground fishermen. The Portuguese were also offshore fishermen. They were considered expert in swordfishing, and fleet leaders in this fishery.
The Italian fishermen were always successful in the inshore fishery and excelled in the offshore mackerel fishery. They were the undisputed leaders in mackerel fishing in the '30s & '40s.
Italian Highline Mackeral Seiner
F/V Santa Maria
All-time highline mackeral seiner
Capts. Peter Mercurio and Peter Guarrasi
As a boy, I was intrigued by all the goings on. In 1944 at age eleven, I was introduced to our busy waterfront as an employee of John Wenneberg on the waterboat Wenham Lake.
Our customer base was located in the North Channel of our inner harbor. This included the United Fishery complex at the head of the North Channel; Gorton's Main Street complex; John J. Burke's ....; Sherman B Ruth wharf; and finally, Ben Pines Atlantic Supply Wharf at the further end entrance to the North Channel. In all, we probably serviced 120 vessels at the height of the summer season (there was also a southern fleet that came north in the summer months).
During these formative years at age 14 in 1947, I started fishing, it was an exciting time for so many male teenagers in the '40s era. I wanted to experience every facet of the industry: seining, dragging, and in 1951, I witnessed dory trawling in its waning years. My only remaining desire was to experience swordfishing. This meant extended trips, 30+ days minimum. My parents would not allow any such long absence from home. (Fishing was always discouraged by my parents.)
Highline F/V Evelina M. Goulart
Capt. Manuel Goulart
Typical Portuguese Swordfisherman
Swordfishing George's Bank
Joseph Mello, Lifelong Friend (at age 13)
Sailed on F/V Magellan, Swordfishing Summer of 1945
Highline Owner/Capt. Edward "Eddie" Silva
Chief Engineer Manuel "Manny" Mello, Joe's Father
MAGELLAN SWORDFISH TRIP 1945
Joe Mello made the trip swordfishing that I longed to do in my teenage years. Joe recalled recently of being gone 30 days wharf to wharf in the summer of 1945.
Capt. Eddie Silva was a highliner, at the top of his game, in those years. With a crew of eight men, the F/V Magellan arrived in Gloucester from Georges Bank with a banner fare of swordfish averaging 100, up to 400 pounds each. Some fish tipped the scales weighing 600 lbs. dressed weight, i.e., head sword and innards removed!
I asked Joe about Capt. Eddie and Joe had nothing but praise for his captain. Mello said the captain was always well dressed, neat as a pin. He was always in command. As a boy of 13, Mello knew who was in charge . . . the captain! Joe couldn't recall the striker's name and the other crew members, but he did say it was "all business aboard the Megellan".
Joe was 13 in 1945, I was right behind him in 1947. I would make my first trip seining on Ben Pine's Yankee, with Capt. Cyril Dyett. I entered G.H.S. that fall. One of my classmates was Helen Silva, Capt. Eddie's daughter. Helen was a wonderful, attractive, bright classmate. She was friendly, simply a nice person - just like her dad. Joe Mello agreed. About 55 years later, after graduating in 1951, Helen and her husband came east from their home in Eugene, Oregon and joined my wife and me at our class reunion dinner table. It was a wonderful evening recalling memories.
Classmate Helen Silva
Flicker Yearbook Photo 1951
F/V Tina B.
Launching Day September 23, 1945
Builder John Prince Story Shipyard, Essex, Mass
Owner/Capt. Simplicio Bichao
Ron Gilson's first launching with his Uncle John Sticklen
Cardinal Richard James Cushing, Archbishop of Boston (1944-1970)
Pictured on steps of Our Lady of Good Voyage Church with my boyhood friend, Louis Costa of Sadler Street, et al
F/V Our Lady of Fatima
Owner/Capt. Chris Cecilio, 1945
WWII minesweeper conversion
Owner/Capt. Chris Cecilio, 1945
WWII minesweeper conversion
5. Huge domestic and European markets for redfish developed from the depression of the 1930s to the post WWII era of the 1950s. These were a result of WWII military demands and post WWII Marshall Plan European commitments.
Launching Day F/V Judith Lee Rose
Owner/Capt. Frank Rose Jr.
Crew of F/V Ocean Life 1951
Capt. Manny Marques and his 11-man crew of the F/V Ocean Life - largest redfish dragger of Gloucester's Golden Age of Fishing, carrying capacity 500k redfish!
⚓ ⚓ ⚓
"The Good Old Days" are gone; the industry that I knew and grew up with is over. Gloucester and its people have moved on.
I witnessed the greatest period in Gloucester's 400-year history of fishing. It was a phenomenal chapter, Gloucester's own Industrial Revolution. I thought it would go on forever! Gloucester was fishing! We had the boats, the men, and we enjoyed a worldwide market for our fish!
We had it all!!
Launching Date was 4/17/45
Lyman James Essex Shipyard
Capt./Owner Joaquim Gaspar
Last vessel built by Gaspar family
F/V Wild Duck
F/V Linda B
Capt. Rosario Testaverde - Cut Bridge
The family breadwinners of today will not accept what fishermen routinely endured only 70 years ago. Millions of pounds of whiting and redifsh were landed @ 1-1/2 to 4 cents per pound. Boats on trips for 7, 10, 14 days, away from their families. That's unacceptable today.
Gone are "button" fish
Gone are hyped brine tanks
Gone are "green fillets"
Gone is "rewrap"
Gone is the 10-lb. layer pack
American Fillet Company
We once fished 200 offshore Gloucester vessels; today, 2019 we service maybe ten offshore local and visiting vessels. Day boats can be counted on one hand, and there is only one pogy harvester, Lakeman's Kingfisher.
The few vessels still fishing are landing only modest catches, compared to the '40s and '50s era. They are receiving exceptionally high prices for their landings and the product reaching the consumer is fresher and superior. Gloucester's diminished fishing industry survives, a shadow of its former self.
⚓ ⚓ ⚓
FISHERMEN'S WHARF - HISTORIC PAST... AGAIN LEADING THE WAY
Fishermen's Wharf, an iconic leader on Gloucester's waterfront, dating back to Ben Pine's Atlantic Maritime Company of the 1920s, to the boat owner's Gloucester Whiting Association of the 1950s, is now enjoying its latest industry resurgence.
F/V Teresa Marie II
F/V Midnight Sun
Testaverde Family Vessel`
F/V Teresa Marie IV
TODAY'S FISHING 2019
Today's offshore vessels manufacture their own salt water slush ice. Sea water cooled to 1/2 degree above freezing temperature, produces a salt water slush resulting in unbruised, unmarred fish. The fish are individually processed by hand aboard the fishing vessel, no longer forked multiple times, arriving dockside in individual tubs in a superior unblemished condition Today's fresh fish are rock hard, vivid in color, and delivered absolutely fresh to the consumer.
Recently, I visited Fishermen's Wharf, 37 Rogers Street, owned and operated by the Giacalone Bros., Vito, Jr., Chris, Marc (investment counselor), and Nick representing three generations of Giacalone fishing family involvement on our waterfront. We can thank the vision of the Giacalone family for their investment and confidence in a diminished continuing local fishing industry.
⚓ ⚓ ⚓
With the family patriarch, grandfather "Joe G." (Capt. Joe), I was treated to a guided tour of this amazing modern fresh fish facility, complete with its newest redfish culling machine, its pristine fresh fish stainless steel processing facility, huge cold storage capability, and modern day "no hands on" approach to unloading fresh fish.
Redfish Culling Machine
Redfish Cooling Area
Fishermen's Wharf utilitizes the latest computerized, visual monitoring capability, that allows the young, ambitious partners to be in constant touch with the day-to-day, minute-by-minute operation of their dockside facility. The Giacalone brothers have succeeded in reinventing the fresh fish processing industry. They are leading the way on Gloucester's waterfront!
GLOUCESTER HAS CHANGED AND ADAPTED. THE GIACALONE BROS. ARE SETTING THE INDUSTRY STANDARD, DEFINING THE COURSE, DELIVERING A SUPERIOR FRESH FISH PRODUCT!
Ron Gilson, 2019
⚓ ⚓ ⚓
Father and Son
June 16, 2019
⚓ ⚓ ⚓