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Oyster Festival 2012 Showcase Ship Is The Peacemaker Out of Georgia

Oyster Festival weekend countdown to October 13 and 14 begins

Kerry Gillick Goldberg, Oyster Festival 2012 promoter, announced they have found the showcase ship for the October 13 and 14 event. “It’s the Peacemaker and she’s a beauty,” she said. Oyster Festival Committee Tall Ships co-chair Jennifer Sappell (with James Werner) said, “It’s a magnificent, elegant and glamorous boat, but it’s not a historical one. It’s an unusual boat. It was off the Carolinas, and took second place in Op Sail in New Orleans. It was the second choice for the festival? The first place went to a government-sponsored ship from Indonesia, the KRI Dewaruci. It had 70 costumed dancers in the rigging.”

Finding a tall ship in this economy was a real task. Ms. Sappell (the Long Island North Shore Heritage area executive director) said, “In these economic times, normal people can’t keep tall ships anymore. The economics of running them is impossible to maintain. Here with the Peacemaker, you have a devoted crew that are together because of their philosophical belief.”

Ms. Sappell said, the group is called The Twelve Tribes of the Commonwealth of Israel (TTCI), a Messianic sect that believes in communal living, working, eating, schooling and worshipping. Their model is the lifestyle of the early church as told in the Bible, when it was called The Way. One of the captains of the Peacemaker, Lee Phillips said, “You share everything with one another and take care of one another. We want our life here on the ship to be the same as life on land. The Peacemaker’s crew hopes to use the tall ship as an extension of the hospitality of Yahshua, their name for Jesus, at each port it visits.”

The crew has a distinctive look in the way they fashion their hair: young men with it tied at the back of their neck; full beards for the older men; ponytails for the girls and women who are dressed in loose pants or long dresses. Tours of the ship Peacemaker are part of their mission to show hospitality and love to all of the world.

Ms. Sappell said of the tall ships, “A great number have fallen on hard times because the costs to run them are so prohibitive. The HMS Bounty is for sale, the Amistad and Providence are not in the water. The schooner Virginia just got back in the water.

“The Old Salt Log Blog just ran an article on the economics of tall ships. The diesel fuel is expensive and if you have a crew to pay, that adds to the cost. The Gazella that was here two years ago takes 30 people to sail. The Peacemaker will probably come in with 20 people. Many of the tall ships in OpSail are owned by governments and are training ships.”

She said among boating people there are a lot of jokes about sailing and the costs involved. One is “Boats are a hole in the water into which you throw money.” Another one is, “Sailing is standing in a cold shower, tearing up hundred dollar bills.” She had another one, “It’s 95 percent pure and utter joy and 5 percent terror.” That reminded her, “I was just on the phone with Peacemaker Captain Larry Clinton. He called me after they had just finished successfully weathering Beryl. It didn’t quite make hurricane status. They were tied up to a really well-built slip and they were running their engine to keep the strain off the lines. He called right after the hurricane had passed. It was stormy with winds at 50 mph. He said all the lines were out so it looked like a spider web. He added they were looking forward to coming up here.

“This is early for hurricane season. It starts on June 1, and there have already been two. They ran ahead of Alberto from OpSail [which started in New Orleans] to Florida and then they encountered Beryl.”

The History of Peacemaker

According to their website, The Peacemaker was built on a riverbank in southern Brazil by an Italian family of boat builders, using traditional methods and the finest tropical hardwoods.

The ship was first launched in 1989 as the Avany, a name chosen by her designer and owner, Frank Walker, a Brazilian industrialist. He planned to spend some time traveling aboard with his family, and then operate it as a charter vessel in the Caribbean.

After an initial voyage in the southern Atlantic, they brought the ship up through the Caribbean to Savannah, Georgia, where they intended to rig her as a three-masted staysail schooner. Other demands captured the attention of the Walker family for many years, and during the summer of 2000 the TTCI found the ship still waiting in the Palmer- Johnson boatyard, her beautiful bright work bleached by the sun, and her bottom heavily encrusted with marine life, but otherwise sound.

By the time TTCI made contact with Mr. Walker, he was looking for a buyer, and liking them and their vision for the ship, he gave them a good price. After considerable effort to put her mechanical systems in order, and to scrape and paint her bottom and topsides, they motored out of the boatyard in September, 2000, looking for a home port.

Most of the following eight or nine months were spent at anchor in various harbors along the southeast Atlantic coast from Beaufort, South Carolina, to Palm Beach, Florida, until TTCI finally settled down in Brunswick, Georgia, in the spring of 2001. Since then they have worked hard at upgrading her mechanical and electrical systems, as well as designing a practical and aesthetically pleasing barquentine rig.

In the summer of 2006, they assembled a rigging and sail-making crew from among their own people, under the direction of Wayne Chimenti, an expert rigger of tall ships. They set sail for the first time in the spring of 2007, under the name Peacemaker, which expresses in a word their vocation as a people: bringing people into peace with their creator and with one another.

Their vision for the ship is to be a seagoing representation of the life of peace and unity that the 12 tribes are living on land in their many communities around the world. It will also provide apprenticeship opportunities for their youth to learn many valuable and practical skills, not only in rigging, sail-making, sailing, navigation, marine mechanics and carpentry, but also in living and working together in tight quarters, as well as many cross-cultural experiences traveling from port to port, concluded the TTCI website for Peacemaker.

Great For Tours

Ms. Sappell said that in a way, “There is a little leap of faith now, not finding a not-for-profit organization with a ship, but a religious organization living out the tenets of their faith as a community and as a living example of peacemaking.”

On the other hand, she said, “It’s a sexy boat. We’ve brought in the Gazella, that carried tons of fish aboard. This has large staterooms and mahogany, and stained glass windows and two freezers.” The Peacemaker is going to be a fascinating visitor to the Oyster Festival where it will be tied up to the pier at the Western WaterFront.