Amazed by NY Times 1882 story

llewellyn J MorseI was browsing for information about my greatgrandfather, Capt. Samuel Veazie, and his ship, the Llewellyn J. Morse, and came across a true story of murder and suicide that concerned the prior Capt. of that historic ship (which starred in the role of Old Ironsides in the silent film of 1926). So amazing to see details about both Capt. Ames and his wife (the ship being named after her father, a member of the Maine legislature). I have posted the verbatim account from the NY Times of May 10, 1882 as a page on my author website.

I absolutely loved the level of detail in the article, the ship’s cargo of sugar and hemp, the description of Mrs. Ames as “one of the loveliest women in Maine”, the location of the pistol-shots, the “north” and “south” positions of the bodies in the bed. As a psychologist, I was fascinated with a possible cause for Capt. Ames “insane” behavior. The article mentions a liver disorder and sudden alarming symptoms of mental aberration. Could it have been end stage alcoholism with delirium tremons that drove him to his last desperate act? Journalism at this personal, detailed level, so common in Victorian days, no longer exists.

DSC02326Regardless, from what I’ve learned about my family history, my greatgrandfather probably become Captain of the Llewellyn J. Morse immediately after Capt. Ames’ untimely demise. I wonder if the crew, having been abandoned by their former Captain in the Philippine Islands, were fearful that yet another quite mad Down Easterner had taken the helm? This is a photo of him next to one of his wife Zilpha plus a photo of the ship and their marriage license. All on the wall of the home he built on the island of Islesboro in the middle of Penobscot Bay in Maine. Memorabilia from his many sea journey’s fill the home, now owned by one of my cousins.

New life for the historic and infamous Wigeon of Fearn

at dock

Wigeon of Fearn 2014


In 1963

It has been great fun to learn that the Wigeon of Fearn, the yacht which took my on an infamous cruise around the Mediterranean in 1963, it not only still alive but very well, having been purchased and restored by Anne and Jim Foster who live on the West coast of Scotland. The Wigeon is now their home and has been entered into the UK National Register of Historic Vessels.

st monans

St. Monans

The Wigeon began her long life as a Gentleman’s Yacht built in 1936 by J.M. Miller & Sons of St. Monans, located just over 12 miles south of St Andrews and the smallest of the East Neuk fishing ports. It was powered by a diesel engine and was of timber carvel construction with a hull of teak and oak. Her design was based on a fishing trawler (which is why she survived during a terrible mistral storm tossed us about on the crossing from Italy to Corsica–a storm which sent six less sturdy Chris Craft vessels to Davy Jones’ locker). She measured 56 feet in length, 14.6 feet breadth, and 5.9 feet depth with a gross tonnage of 37 tons.

She served with the Royal Navy from 1939 to 1945 as a Senior Officer Armed Patrol Tender at Scapa Flow in the Orkneys Islands when private yachts were commandeered to by part of the anti-submarine fleet on the lookout for German U-Boats.

spithead review

Spithead Fleet Review 1977

In 1977 she took part in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee celebrations on the River Thames and in the Spithead Fleet Review.

Fitted with new engines in 1996 and outfitted as a floating home, she has taken on an elegant look with her new canvas sidings. IMG_0011


close up underwayAnd as you can see, she is still as seaworthy as ever. My thanks to the current owners for all the great photos.underway spray




The interior still features that gorgeous polished oak table and benches that we gathered around to share meals of broiled eel and bourbon soaked birthday cake back in 1963.IMG_0006 But with some new decorative touches by the current owners. What a marvelous 78 years of sailing history with an adventure or two thrown in.