An 1812 privateer prowls the lake once again
The privateer Lynx stopped by Frankfort recently and will be visiting Bay Harbor August 19- 28. Privateers were basically government-endorsed pirates.
Built in 1812 in Fell’s Point, Maryland, the privateer Lynx was one of the first ships to defend American freedom in the War of 1812, and one of only 17 ships in the American Navy’s fleet.
The term privateer was given to the ships via a special permission, or “letter of marque,” which allowed private vessels to prey upon the enemy’s shipping. The Lynx, with its superior sailing abilities, was an inspiration to future ships in the fleet - but was captured early in the war.
Today’s privateer Lynx was inspired by that 1812 vessel, but was built starting in 1997 by Woodson K. Woods. His goal was to craft a ship that would educate the public through tours and sailings aboard the Lynx itself.
In 2001, the “new” Lynx was completed and launched in Rockport, Maine. Past and present met on July 28 of that year, and continues to this day with the Lynx’s sailings and tours.
“Lynx today continues to inspire,” says Jeffrey Woods, director of operations for the Lynx Educational Foundation, “Lynx sails as a living history museum dedicated to ‘those who cherish the blessings of America.’”
PIRATES TO PENNANTS
Lynx also helped inspire a few faux pirates for a while, too; the ship was the training ground for the cast and crew of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie starring Johnny Depp.
Today’s ‘civilian’ Lynx visitors are treated to a crew garbed in period clothing and a ship bedecked with pennants and flags from the 1812 era. Even the carronades (short, cast iron cannons) and swivel guns are authentic.
“Weaponry aboard Lynx are fitted with period ordnance, which is not too common to find on tall ships,” Woods explains.
Woods, who hires the crew to operate the ship, arranges port visits, handles the marketing and fundraising, and also oversees all of the ships’ operations, says that the Lynx harkens back to a different time.
“I think what attracts people to Lynx the most is that on decks and below, Lynx evokes the life, spirit, and atmosphere of a vanished age of sail,” he says, “Her deck guns are also always an interest to those who step aboard.”
FIVE YEAR MISSION
Several opportunities to step aboard will be available when the Lynx docks in Bay Harbor. Visitors can choose from a dockside tour, an “Adventure Sail,” or a “Sunset Sail,” all of which are sure to transmit a good feel for what it must have been like to work and live on a ship like the Lynx.
The Lynx travels year-round, and has been in Northern Michigan before (in Harbor Springs and Frankfort); the ship will be spending the next several years in transit to educate and, as Woods puts it, “to remind Americans of their proud heritage.”
“Having come around from Hawaii and California through the Panama Canal in 2009, Lynx is here on a five-year mission along the East Coast of the United States, the Great Lakes, and Canada to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812,” Woods says.
“Sailing in the Great Lakes has been terrific,” he continues, “there has been such tremendous support and interest in the ports we have visited. It is amazing to have sailed through all the fresh water lakes and support the effort to preserve them. Also Lynx herself enjoys the fact that we do not have to clean the bottom of the boat as there is little growth because of the fresh water. It has been a wonderful feeling for our crew to see so many people come down to see the ship and have so much appreciation for what we do.”
The Privateer Lynx will be visiting Bay Harbor from August 19 through August 28. For more information on the ship and tickets for its tours/sailings, visit them online at www.privateerlynx.com. The Lynx Educational Foundation always welcomes donations at 1-888-446-5969.