Yesterday, Kate and I hopped on the Commuter Rail for a fun-filled day in Salem, MA. I love that city. A mix of two things I love — Halloween and Maritime History — and has that old New England town feel that I really enjoy. It’s just nice to be there some days. Sure, a lot of Salem might be cheesy touristy attractions, but I still enjoy walking down cobblestone or brick lined streets and look in any shop window to see Halloween decorations on the other side. The more ignored part of Salem, unfortunately, is it’s rich maritime history. And that was our destination for our little trip. Specifically, for a fun cruise around the bay on a replica privateer vessel.
We met up with a couple of friends who live in Salem, grabbed a quick lunch, and then headed down to the docks for an hour and a half cruise on the schooner the Fame. For those who don’t know, the Fame is a replica of a privateer schooner by the same name during the War of 1812. The original Fame was a Chebacco fishing schooner, but when war came the ship was commissioned and fitted as a privateer vessel to make life a pain for Great Britain. If memory serves me right, the skipper of the Fame said the original ship captured around 21 known vessels during the war. It could be higher than that. Still, that’s a pretty decent haul for one little fishing schooner. Most of their work was done up in Canada, going after ships with timber bound for Britain. It was really cool to hear the history of the ship and it’s role during the War of 1812, which isn’t really even mentioned in history classes these days, forget really covered.
The new Fame is a full-size replica but with a few changes insisted by the US Coast Guard. So the new one is a bit wide, heavier, and slower than the original. It also has a diesel engine, but once you get out of the dock area they raise the sails and let her fly the way she was meant. Speaking of sails, the crew let the passengers help out with raising the sails. I couldn’t not jump at the opportunity. Luckily I was paired with like four little kids, so I made them do most of the heavy lifting. Obviously, I was just there for show. Alas, I couldn’t think of the right type of shanty, so no one had to sing.
They also had some homemade hardtack for everyone to try. I had heard horror stories, so was really expecting it to be the worst thing I ever had. The crew was nice, though, and added a little cinnamon to the recipe so it had a little flavor. The Fame‘s hardtack tasted like stale Cinnamon Toast Crunch, so I have to image the original would’ve been like a really hard, stale saltine cracker. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected.
We also managed to convince the skipper to fire off one of the two swivel guns they had on board. Here’s video of that.
So a fun day. Here’s a link to the Fame‘s website, should you want to learn more about the ship and how to take a trip on it. It’s worth it.
After the jump are more pics of the day’s adventure on the Fame.