Vintage ship returns to port 

After countless voyages up and down the West Coast, the former lumber schooner CA Thayerwill set off on a new trip early this morning — a homecoming voyage from its retrofit in Alameda to its home port in San Francisco.

The 156-foot, 453-ton ship will set out at 5:30 a.m. today from the former seaplane hangar in Alameda, where it has been undergoing an extensive retrofit for more than three years.

It will make the journey at 5:30 a.m., traveling with a mild ebb tide toward its permanent home with the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park at the Hyde Street Pier, where it is scheduled to arrive at 7:30 a.m.

The ship left the pier in December 2003, when it was hauled aboard a barge via a floating dry dock, towed to Alameda and transferred using house-winches into the massive hangar, according to a statement by San Francisco Maritime.

Most of the timbers were soft with dry rot, and over the course of the retrofit, 85 percent of the ship’s wood was replaced.

The vessel’s keel and the timbers below the waterline remained well-preserved, park spokesman Lynn Cullivan said, likely because of the salt used in processing fish in the hold. The schooner, which was built in Fairhaven in 1895, operated as a fishing vessel after she was retired from the lumber trade in 1912.

"What we did with this rehabilitation is that we took her back to one period in her history, which was the lumber period," Cullivan said.

After completing her $14 million retrofit on land, the park will continue to restore the vessel at the dock, erecting the three masts, re-attaching the aft pilot house and constructing a new forward deck house in the style of the original one. After she ceased to haul Douglas Fir lumber from Washington state to San Francisco and Southern California, the Thayer served as a fishing boat and an Army barge before the California State Park System bought her in 1957. She was transferred, along with the rest of the holdings of the Maritime Historical State Park, tothe United States Park Service in 1977.

amartin@examiner.com

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