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Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Yacht Columbia Revisited

Last Wednesday I posted a photo and caption of the Columbia anchored by the Bass River bridge in New Gretna (See photo and caption below as it appeared on the October 13th Blog entry.).

The Yacht Columbia wintered on the Bass River, just a stone's throw from the Bass River Bridge which can be seen in the background. Thomas A. Mathis captained the Columbia, owned by financierJ.P. Morgan, for eleven years after its America's Cup victories and was known as Captain Tom since that time . The bronze hulled Columbia was cut up for scrap in 1913 at the Hawkin's Yard in City Island, New York.

Eagle-eye John Allen, up in New Hampshire, noticed some errors in the caption. Seems there were three Columbias which were built in 1879, 1899, and 1978. Unfortunately, I got them confused when writing the caption. The bronze hulled Columbia, built for J.P Morgan and scrapped in 1913, mentioned in the caption was the second Columbia built in 1899. Captain Tom commanded the first Columbia which was built 21 years earlier in 1978.

John sent me the following information and photo of Captain Tom's Columbia, the one built in 1879:

The Yacht Columbia was a wooden centerboard schooner, designed and built in 1871 by Joseph B. Van Deusen in Chester, Pa. for owner Franklin Osgood of the New York Yacht Club. Skippered by Andrew J. Comstock, Columbia won the first two 1871 America's Cup races against Livonia. It was beaten by Livonia in the third race, in which Columbia, damaged from the second race, was skippered by Horatio Nelson "Nelse" Comstock. Columbia was further damaged in this third race and was unable to compete in the final race. The yacht Sappho substituted and won the America's Cup for the second time for the U.S. Columbia ended its racing career in 1908, when it was dismasted and used as a houseboat in Brooklyn Harbor on the East River. Three years later it was rebuilt and sailed as a cruiser out of Newport News, VA. In 1920, Columbia was bought by a fisherman. It was declared lost in 1923.

Columbia, winner of the 1871 America's Cup, as it appeared in the 1890s.
Photograph by John S. Johnson.

Thanks to John for setting The Blog straight. I've corrected the erroneous caption on the October 13th Blog posting. We strive for accuracy and appreciate any corrections.

Pete S

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