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

posted in: Features, Gazela, News | 1

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.

Hull Rebuild Campaign has a Successful Kickoff!

posted in: Features, Gazela, News | 0

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.


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!

Gazela Spotted in Drone Video of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor

posted in: Gazela, Odds & Ends, Trips | 0

A YouTube user uploaded an aerial video of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, which includes views of the visiting Gazela from above! She can be seen on the left a few times in the first minute of the video. Also included are some good shots of the Argentine Navy ship Libertad, Baltimore’s own Constellation, as well as the other ships and sights of the harbor.

Gazela Arrives in Norfolk for Harborfest ’16!

posted in: Events, Gazela, News, Trips | 0

Gazela and her crew arrived in Norfolk today, after having a great time sailing in the Chesapeake Bay. During the past four days, the crew has enjoyed sailing, dory rowing, boat operation, and working hard to get Gazela ready to welcome visitors at Norfolk Harborfest this weekend.

Norfolk Harborfest is in its 40th anniversary year celebrating America’s largest, longest-running, free maritime festival. Gazela is proud to be part of the festivities, which will run from June 9-12. Click here for more information, including a schedule of events.

Gazela sail training

Register Now: Spring 2016 Sail Training Classes

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

line handling trainingFor those of you who are new to our little band of sailors and are looking forward to getting underway this season, we are offering sail training classes this spring.

The mandatory Level 1 class – Introduction to Gazela – will be offered four times on Sundays. All dates 10 am to 4 pm, aboard Gazela:

  • April 3
  • April 17
  • May 1
  • May 15

Please register for one of the classes at this link.

This class, provided at no cost only to active Guild members, covers a variety of basic topics ranging from knot tying, line handling, learning the ship, emergency stations and watchstanding roles. For new members, you will receive a copy of the Gazela crew manual, a log book, and a complimentary piece of rope for knot tying.

The vessels are back in the water!

posted in: Features, Gazela, Repairs | 0

Gazela and Poplar went back in the water on October 8 after two months in dry dock at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.  Gazela is currently at Pier No. 2 at the Navy Yard, where volunteers have been busy bringing down blocks and lines, sending down spars, and removing the masts in preparation for moving her to Penn’s Landing for the winter.

Gazela leaving dry dock
Gazela leaving dry dock at 8:30am