ROCKPORT, ME – With the words, “I name this ship Lynx. God bless her and all who sail in her!” Mrs. Alison Woods of Newport Beach, California christened the American clipper schooner with a bottle of Dom Perignon champagne and saw the 80-foot, 98.7-ton 1812 privateer vessel successfully launched into Rockport Harbor.
Mrs. Woods, wife of Woodson K. Woods, executive director of the Lynx project, then watched with her husband as musketry and cannon fire joined with huzzahs and boatswains’ calls to salute this newest schooner on the ocean. More than 300 boats in the harbor and more than 3500 people on land witnessed the celebration under sunny skies as Lynx was christened in a gala event symbolic of the era she represents. In her sponsor’s address, Mrs. Woods dedicated the ship “to all those who cherish the blessings of America.”
An interpretation of an historic Baltimore Clipper built as a blockade runner in the War of 1812, Lynx is the first vessel carrying a square sail to be built in Rockport since 1885. A member of the American Sail Training Association, she will operate as a sail training schooner, but present herself at all times as a living history museum emphasizing America’s fight for independence.
Held at Rockport Marine Park, the Lynx launch celebration featured participants and well-wishers alike in period dress. It started at 4:30 p.m. after introductory music by the Manchester Brass and Chanteymen Jeff Warner and Bob Webb.
Descending the road into the park were the Sailing Masters of 1812 Fife and Drum Corps of Essex, Connecticut who preceded the United States Marine Guard from the USS ‘Constitution’, based out of Boston, Massachusetts, who escorted the American colors carried by Midshipman of Signals James Arvin Shinned Jr. of Laguna Beach, California. Marching beside him was Yeoman of Signals Joseph Hoyman White of St. Louis, Missouri. Mr. Shinned then presented the Stars and Stripes to Mr. White who raised the flag during the playing of the National Anthem.
From the dais in front of the clipper schooner, Victor Southern, director of historical programming for Lynx, greeted all in attendance and spoke of the history of Lynx and the era of 1812 that inspired her. He then introduced Mr. Woods who thanked all those who contributed to the project and expressed his gratitude to all who helped realize his dream. In his remarks, he cited specific individuals for their achievements. He then asked the builders of Lynx ‹ her carpenters, shipwrights, electricians, caulkers and painters ‹ to stand and receive the appreciation of everyone assembled. It was an emotional highlight of the event.
Mr. Suthren then introduced Melbourne Smith, the vessel’s designer, who spoke on the process of creating the design for Lynx. He was followed by Taylor Allen, president of Rockport Marine, builders of Lynx, who also thanked his crew for all of their extra effort in making the launch date. He then cited the importance of Lynx to the shipbuilding heritage of Rockport and then thanked Mr. Woods for the opportunity to build Lynx.
The three speeches were followed by the blessing and invocation, delivered by the Reverend Doctor Ralph Moore, rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Rockland, Maine. He then joined the chanteymen in leading the assembled guests in the singing of the hymn, “Eternal Father, Strong to Save.”
Upon conclusion of the hymn, Mr. Woods escorted his wife, as sponsor, to the stem of Lynx for the christening as the hymn, “I Vow to Thee, My Country,” was played by Bagpiper Roger McGuire. Following an introduction by her husband, Mrs. Woods then delivered the Sponsor’s Address, imbuing the schooner with “the power of life,” asking God to “grant her good fortune” and then blessing “the love that created her always inspire her spirit.” With the words, “I name this ship Lynx. God bless her, and all who sail in her!” Mrs. Woods christened her with the bottle of champagne.
The Boatswain’s Call piped the ’still’ as the schooner began to move off her cradle. The United States Marine Guard fired a volley, followed by the firing of four cannons. The Manchester Brass continued to play martial music until Lynx was afloat. The gala launch festivities ended at about 5:45 p.m. They were followed by a private reception for more than 1,000 people held in the Rockport Marine boatyard. After further rigging and finish work, Lynx will undergo extensive sea trials along the coast of Maine and will make her first visit to her port of registry, Portsmouth, New Hampshire at the end of September. She will then participate in The Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race before sailing south to the British Virgin Islands in November.
She will operate in the Caribbean for four months as a daily charter vessel from the Bitter End Yacht Club, introducing guests to traditional seamanship and American seafaring history. Besides her significance as a man-of war topsail schooner of historic importance to the United States, Britain and Canada, Lynx represents a medium-sized privateer or letter of marque as well as a naval schooner. The original privateer Lynx was built at Fells Point, Maryland in 1812 and was captured by the British in 1813 in Virginia’s Rappahannock River.
Due to her swiftness and fine design, she was taken into the Royal Navy and was renamed the ‘Mosquidobit.’ She was based out of Halifax, Nova Scotia and later Deptford, England until 1820 when records of her ended. Enhancing her service as a living museum, Lynx has been fitted with period ordnance and appropriate accouterment and flies historic flags and pennants from the 1812 period. To further complement the historical character of the ship, members of the crew wear period uniforms and operate the ship in keeping with the U.S. naval traditions of the early 19th century. Lynx is owned and operated by Woods Maritime LLC of Newport Beach, California. As its president, Mr. Woods has overseen every detail of the Lynx construction, from the initial creative spark to the selection of design and architect, from the choice of shipbuilder to the assembly of her crew.
A lifelong sailor and serious student of maritime history, Mr. Woods has ascertained that the spirit of the past has been reinvigorated in the present interpretation. Lynx is the culmination of a dream and an achievement of lasting worth. Great care has been taken to maintain authenticity in period construction while employing modern materials and methods. The ship has laminated pine frames and is planked with Angelique, a tropical, dense hardwood from Surinam. She has traditional fir decks and laminated fir masts, with upper spars and yardarms constructed of Sitka spruce. A film is planned for April and May 2002, which will follow six teenagers as they learn the ways of the sea and the history of a period vessel. Ports of call in the Caribbean will include Antigua, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, St. Lucia and historic Cartagena before Lynx transits the Panama Canal and sails north to California to participate in the 2002 American Sail Training Association’s Tall Ships Challenge on the Pacific Coast.