Farewell, Laurel

This afternoon, JP Vellotti — who spent the last year desperately trying to save the Laurel, the last  powered oyster dredge built in the 1800s still sailing — sent this sad email to “06880”:

I want to say thanks for all you have done. The last post gave a good push, but I ended up selling only 130 oyster knives — far short of the goal of 500. Almost half came from the Westport area, so kudos to those readers who supported the project!

Ironically, the ship’s graveyard turned me down as they felt Laurel was too old and too historic to sink there. I tried one last time at Mystic Seaport. They said no previously, as they no longer want any boat donations (and can barely afford what is in their collection).

This time, my pitch was just to tide her over for the winter under shrink wrap. Again, the answer was no.

The Laurel

The Laurel

As the director of Mystic Seaport told me, there just isn’t an interest in supporting maritime history anymore. And after their Charles Morgan project, they are financially tapped.

I think I tried every non-profit museum from Maine to the Chesapeake Bay. Two that had promise (and a Laurel connection) also fell through. South Street Seaport in NYC is actually liquidating its own vessels, and the Greenport Maritime Museum on Long Island didn’t have the wherewithal to fund or even raise funds for something like this.

So tomorrow (Saturday, November 16), at 7 a.m,, Laurel will be pulled ashore and broken up. The payloader is in place, as well as a tugboat to guide her in. This past week, as I prepped for the hopes of bringing her to a shipyard, I removed all her mechanicals, and the pilot house and cabin. She is just a bare hull now. She floats well, and does not leak a drop.

The payloader.

The payloader.

Two and a half years ago, I stepped in to prevent her from being crushed. In what has ultimately become a Greek tragedy, what I set out to prevent was inevitable. It turns out you can’t change the tides of fate, can you?

My sincere thanks again to you and your readers.

8 responses to “Farewell, Laurel

  1. Sharon Paulsen

    Oh man, what a shame! If my husband and I had the big bucks, we would have loved to step in with some of those bucks. We love boating and all things maritime. Hard to believe there wasn’t just one person with some disposable income that would have come to the rescue.
    Saving a bit of history is always cool, and creating a floating oyster bar would have been even cooler!! Would have been a nice Fairfield County novelty.
    So very sorry it didn’t work out!

  2. Unfortunately, there is a lot of history we regret. Actions taken or not taken after time. But, You can’t un-ring the bell. Sorry….

  3. I am so sorry. That is so sad

  4. R.I.P. Laurel. This is very sad. Thanks for your efforts Mr. Vellotti. I’m so sorry it didn’t work out.

  5. Don’t let this throw you jp. Follow your passions!

  6. JP, you took a risk and you tried your best – that’s all any of us can do, really. You certainly have my respect for giving it a go. Here’s a toast to the Laurel!

  7. Certainly true. Admirable and creative attempt to save a piece of our maritime history. A lot of credit goes toward your attempts to save her.

  8. Wendy Crowther

    Oh no. I’m so sad for you and the Laurel. After your last posting I contacted an acquaintance who I thought might be able to offer you dockage. He seemed interested but I guess he didn’t follow through, or at least not in time.

    When my oyster knife arrives, I’ll feel so special to own a part of the Laurel’s fine, old, working deck. A piece of her will live on in the hands of those of us who tried to help you save her.

    Thanks for putting your all into such a great cause. I’m actually welling up right now. To the Laurel!