Winter Work Updates, Feb. 17th


Our first potluck of the year was a success!  If you missed out this time, don’t worry – potlucks will be held monthly through the spring.  Open to all volunteers and friends (sign up for our mailing list here to get updates on events or check our calendar here).  Come help out for the day and stay for good food, music and great company!









We don’t spend all of our time sitting on Poplar playing banjo – there’s work to do, too!  With the help of some of our Drexel volunteers, Chuck has been prepping new hull planks for Gazela’s port side.















There’s also plenty to do on all aspects of the rig.  We’re inspecting and tarring the standing rigging, servicing bottlescrews and blocks, and scraping spars.





PSPG Awarded $100K Grant to Support Gazela

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PHILADELPHIA, December 10, 2019: The Philadelphia Ship Preservation Guild (PSPG) is pleased to announce the receipt of $100,000 in grant funding from The W. W. Smith Charitable Trust. The grant application was submitted as part of the 2019-2020 maritime grant cycle on behalf of Philadelphia’s Tall Ship Gazela, a barkentine of Portuguese origin which first sailed in 1901.


The Philadelphia Ship Preservation Guild is an all-volunteer nonprofit corporation dedicated to preserving historic ships and teaching seamanship, restoration skills and maritime science and culture. The Guild maintains and operates two historic vessels, the Tall Ship Gazela, and the tugboat Jupiter. The Gazela, built in 1901 is a three-masted barkentine with an exceptional heritage. Research suggests that she is oldest wooden Class A Tall Ship still sailing in the world, a priceless piece of world seafaring history and culture. Gazela was also one of the last working sailing ships. Until 1969 she sailed annually to the Grand Banks to fish for cod using the centuries-old long-line technique


The W. W. Smith Charitable Trust is a private foundation established by William Wikoff Smith in 1977 to make grants in the Greater Philadelphia region to support basic needs, higher education scholarships, maritime education, and medical research. The foundation’s relationship with the Gazela dates back to 1970, when Smith, a philanthropist with wide-ranging interests that included sailing and model ship-building, purchased the retired ship.


The generous funding on behalf of the Trust will enable the PSPG to accomplish a number of survey recommendations for Gazela, contributes to broadening PSPG’s office operations, and supports preparations for major projects slated through 2021, including a planned drydocking and replacement of the ship’s 1970s-era ballast tanks. These critical repairs will help Gazela continue her role as the good-will ambassador ship for Philadelphia’s international seaport, safely sail to various ports for historical exhibitions, and provide the entertainment and education experiences that hundreds of students and other visitors have enjoyed for over 40 years since her arrival at Penn’s Landing.


Melissa Black-Simmons, President of the PSPG Board of Directors, officially accepted the grant on December 3rd. The PSPG is extremely grateful for this opportunity, which will help keep the historic Gazela around for future generations to learn from. This generous grant from the Trust will enable PSPG to broaden our efforts at addressing the survey recommendations and repair needs of the ship, as well as deal with emergent issues such as the need to rebuild the anchor windlass, and plan for a periodic drydocking in summer 2020.


For more information about the Philadelphia Ship Preservation Guild or its initiatives, please contact Melissa Black-Simmons at 215-439-2781.

Winter Work Updates

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Work on the windlass continues as we demolish the starboard windlass post and strip the ratchets and pawl rack from the windlass drum.








This windlass pawl rack was fabricated by Patrick about ten years ago, and now it’s getting stripped of paint and having welds inspected and refinished. We’re hoping to give all the windlass iron work this treatment so that it goes back together in top condition.






Bulwark planking and a hull plank are being demolished for replacement, and we continue prepping the rest of the starboard hull for paint.










Al Hinkey made a beautiful replacement for the aft companionway slide.











Spars are being scraped and prepared for varnish. Thanks to everyone who has stopped by to help! Even a couple of hours makes a big difference.









Work in the engine room continues. Stop by and check out our shiny engine! Mary Walker, with help from volunteers, has stripped down the engine and repainted it. This is part of the ongoing project of getting our engine room in tip-top shape.

Meet Our Crew

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Our winter crew is now up to full strength. Chuck Ball and Mary Walker have arrived after their season on Lady Maryland, joining Patrick Flynn, Nolan McDermott, and Molly Wright. There will be someone working 9am-5pm every day on or around the ships, so feel free to stop by to lend a hand, or just say hello, any time!

MS Kungsholm with Christian Roden

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October 20th, from 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Independence Seaport Museum, maritime historian Christian Roden will present Swedish Taste on the High Seas; The Art Deco Interiors of the Swedish-America Lines’ 1928 Ocean Liner MS Kungsholm.

This will be a meeting of the Steamship Historical Society of America, Delaware Valley Chapter, held as a special event in cooperation with the Independence Seaport Museum, the Oliver Evans (Philadelphia) Chapter of the Society For Industrial Archaeology, and the Philadelphia Ship Model Society.

Roden is the Assistant Director of Data Management and Prospect Research at the University of Pennsylvania library in Philadelphia. As a Fulbright Scholar he spent a year researching the French Line Archives in Le Havre, France, with a particular focus on the 1927 Île de France.

If you would like to attend, please RSVP to Steve Loveless (215-495-8889 or by Monday, October 14.
There will be a reception following the talk.

Hull Rebuild Campaign has a Successful Kickoff!

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The ‘Haul Out’ Campaign has had a successful start and has been more accurately rebranded, “Hull Rebuild Campaign!” We exceeded our initial $3,500 goal, and raised in excess of $16,000! We have a Hull Rebuild Campaign Committee (HRCC) and we are looking for folks to help us in grants, publicity, and fundraising. Meanwhile, work continues on Gazela and Jupiter to keep them in as good a condition as feasible. This on-going maintenance is funded in part by the Annual Fund. Please contribute to the 2019 Annual Fund here.

Drexel Students End Their School Year with a Bang!

posted in: Gazela, News, Training, Volunteers | 0

Thanks to students from Drexel University fulfilling their civil engagement requirement by volunteering on Gazela, supplementing our complement of volunteers, we got a lot of good work done in the past few months, including shifting ballast for inspection of the members below, removing and stowing the winter cover, and getting a start on uprigging by using mechanical advantage (block and tackle) to get the main and mizzen booms and gaffs in place. To thank them for their hard work and enthusiasm, we invited them for a potluck that coincided with a fireworks display, and gave them all complimentary one-year memberships, since many were keen on coming back to volunteer over the summer break, or when they are back in school in the fall. We also received a Drexel flag, now flying on the mizzen truck, to showcase our appreciation of the hard work they put in these past few months.

PSPG Education Programs Seek Teachers and Students

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If you are a teacher or know a teacher, email or for more info on our curriculum-based school-year programs. Programs are available for all ages and a variety of subject areas, with a multitude of STEM, STEAM, and NGSS-aligned options. We would love to bring our maritime education program to your classroom, or welcome your students aboard the ship!

June Membership Meeting – Many Topics Discussed

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The Guild held a members meeting on board the Gazela on June 15th. After a potluck and time for board members, volunteers and dues paying members to mix and mingle, our Guild President, Melissa Black-Simmons, led a wide ranging discussion on what has been happening at the Guild so far in 2019. Melissa noted that there is a lot of renewed enthusiasm at the Guild and announced the successful kick off a fundraising campaign to restore Gazela so that she can return to sailing the oceans. Board member Marcus Brandt reviewed an exciting parallel effort to obtain government funding to acquire a permanent home for the Guild on the Delaware River. Initial meetings with City and River officials have been positive. Board member John Telencio reviewed the Guild’s efforts for educational outreach to Philadelphia youth and our goal to expand outreach to local educators.


posted in: Events, Gazela, News | 0

Gazela welcomed guests aboard on July 1st and 4th for tours and the best seats available for the fireworks at Penn’s Landing. The event was completely sold out on July 4th! We were happy to see many returning friends as well as some folks who joined us for their first tour. This was also an important chance to raise funds for the organization. We’ll do this again for Labor Day!