Duck! The Hulk! The Sequel

Alert “06880″ reader Jean Paul Vellotti fills in the back story from yesterday’s post on the sunken vessel spotted in the mud at low tide, just south of the Bridge Street Bridge:

The hulk below the blue bridge is the Mary E., which was an onion schooner and the last ship built in Westport. You can tell it’s a ship and not a barge because the centerboard housing is visible. It would be possible to see who owned/built this vessel with some research; a fairly easy task since it would have been involved in the “coasting trade” and therefore taxed yearly on revenue. Point being, it would have been given a number and records would have been kept. Generally, a hulk is a floating ship that is unable to sail but still has some function. During the wars in the days of sail, captured vessels were often referred to as hulks and used for prison ships.

The best story I heard about how it came to rest in the mud is that an local old oyster pirate named Ford “40” Macheskie (might have that last name a little botched), brought it up-river and  tied it ashore. The owner of the property kept saying move it, move it, and Ford never would. Eventually, he threw three sticks of dynamite in the hold and it sank. Then he told the owner it’s stuck in the mud and walked away.

Ford is long gone, but that story was told by him to someone I know.

PS: Re the Black Duck, what irony to list it on Westport’s historic register. You know, if that happened, there could be no changes to the exterior without the Historic District Commission’s approval. Putting it on the register could actually preserve its un-preserved condition.

The Black Duck. (Photo by John Kantor)

The Black Duck. (Photo by John Kantor)

7 responses to “Duck! The Hulk! The Sequel

  1. I remember an old guy in the early 60′s named Ford and Ford’s marine. He had dock space down by what became Moorings restaurant. He had a small bait shop and also offered mobile boat service. He drove an old jeep around town and fixed peoples boats. (I wonder if the Moorings advertising Jeep that was parked on Riverside Ave was Fords?)
    My father used to take us to Ford’s to rent open wooden boats with small outboard motors to go out into the sound to go fishing or picknicking. Ford’s was not to be confused with the Westport Tackle Shop that was at the corner of Sylvan and Riverside and later at the beginning of Riverside next to the gas station that is now an ice cream shop.

  2. Ford, drove a white van, the jeep belonged to Bill Bates who had “Mobile Marine” located at Fords. Fords was one of the last “real” boat yards in Westport and was a wonderful place to keep your boat, and just hang out. Ford was a great Sea Captain, and an even greater friend to all who knew him.

  3. Please tell me no one is trying to remove the remains of the ship. It is part of our history

  4. Jessica Aysseh

    Ford Macieski was my dad. He was a character but not too sure how much truth there is to this. He owned Ford’s Riverside Marina by the Moorings and a tackle store where the craft butchery is today. In his earlier career he was a pile driver and I believe he helped out the likings under the Black Duck. Never saw him with any dynamite ;)
    Thanks for the kind words Jeff

  5. Jessica Aysseh

    Helped put the pilings under (auto correct)

  6. Alan M. Beasley

    In the early 1950′s there was a boat yard just North of The Moorings, or the Warehouse (Nash’s?) run by Al Benson. For three or four years I kept a 14′ Amesbury Dory, built by Mumford Bros. in Amesbury, MA, here..

    Benson sold Lyman Boats. I thought the Lyman Islander, a 22′ inboard I saw there, was beautiful. I still do. When I was transferred to New Jersey, Al bought my boat and added it to his fleet. This boat was previously kept at Andersen’s Boat Yard on the Norwalk River, roughly under today’s, I-95 bridge, In 1966 my family moved to Weston and a new house on Old Hyde Rd. 4 BDRMS, 2 1/2 BA on 2 acres, natural gas heat ($42,700). How times have changed.