Happy 152nd Birthday to Star of India!
November 14, 2015
by Web Captain
Star of India turned 152 years young on November 14, 2015.
Since her last sailing in 2013 for her 150th, the Formast has been downrigged for the first time since the early 1960s. Work has included, topmast, topgallant, royalmast, jibbom, yards, and standing rigging plus much more. All gear is being inspected and replaced where needed. The standing rigging is being wormed, parcelled, and served tight, this will keep the rigging watertight for years.
But we NEED YOUR HELP for Star of India’s next big project, her decks. We have a grant for her decks if we can match the dollars. This is where you come in.
Letter from our CEO/President Ray Ashley, PhD
As we near the end of a year of great accomplishments, including the launching of San Salvador after so much effort in research, planning, and construction, it is perhaps worth a moment of reflection to contemplate how far our institution has come since the day in 1927 when Star of India entered San Diego Bay and our hearts. Now the proud flagship of a fleet that spans five centuries, she has ever remained one of our city’s most beloved symbols. Of the many thousands of sailing ships which conducted the oceanic migrations of humanity that defined the modern world, she is the last such ship left that is original in material, pure in form, and still able to go to sea. Even as you read this, our museum is working as part of an international effort to see Star of India inscribed, along with other great historic ships, by UNESCO as a multi-national world heritage site. Like the Parthenon, the Pyramids, and the Great Wall of China, such a distinction would validate the generations of our community who have believed in her, loved her, and worked to see that she lives forever.
I write to you today with an opportunity and a request to become part of that eternal legacy. Several years ago, we raised funds to coat the underwater exterior of Star of India’s hull with an epoxy/ceramic material that has proven extremely successful in stopping outer surface corrosion of her 152-year-old wrought iron plates. Now we need to finish the job by eliminating the remaining corrosive threat to her indefinite lifespan – rust inside the ship caused by egress of rain from leaking decks.
Iron ships decay principally from the inside out as a result of saltwater that comes on board in heavy seas and leaks through the decks, causing salts to be absorbed into the somewhat porous structure of the iron plates. Having circled the earth and prevailed against Cape Horn twenty-one times, Star of India shipped a lot of heavy seas. Even though no seas have boarded her for almost a century now, the salts still remain within the iron and are activated every time rainwater leaks through the decks, which in their present condition is happening a lot even in our dry climate. Her decks are now at the end of their life and we can no longer sustain their integrity through caulking – they need to be replaced.
Fortunately, Star of India was recently awarded a $192,000 National Parks Service Maritime Heritage Grant, one of very few such awards and a testimony to both her historical significance and to the viability of the project for extending her life. However, these funds are available to Star of India only if they are matched by an equal amount contributed by those who love her and want to see her sail for generations to come.
So please join me in helping to ensure that a century or centuries from now, Star of India will continue to inspire wonder, devotion, and appreciation for all the generations that kept her sailing.
Ray Ashley, PhD