Hudson River Gypsum Fleet - Ships Nostalgia
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Hudson River Gypsum Fleet

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  #1  
Old 7th October 2009, 17:43
emsbuff124 emsbuff124 is offline  
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Hudson River Gypsum Fleet

Does anyone know the current activates associated with the Gypsum boat fleet primarily in the Hudson river? I live right by the Stony Point/ haverstraw gypsum dock and since i was a 3 year old i have just been hooked on these massive ships that were able to navigate this far up the hudson. My dad told me there were 4 ships the gypsum king, queen, princess, and prince. There was also a story that my dad told me that before i was born one the boats was under the eye of a drunk captian and hit the dock on the way in and sunk and had to be repaired on the spot.When I got a Bit older i kept record of the ships that were docked there I saw the Gypsum King Once about 6 years or so ago and the baron a number of times. I was pretty lucky i was able to walk right up to the Dock were the ships parked and got a good veiw of the Hulls and could even read the Dept Numbers on the Bow THen about 5 years ago the dock apeared to be retrofited and a new ship called the AV. Kastner appeared, Along with a Security Fence and Guard and gone were the days of walking up to this ocean vessels. main questions are what happened to the ships prior to the AV. kastner? Is the Av. Kastner Still owned by the Gypsum company i noted that the Lettering on the stacks were changed Was there really a near sinking at the dock from a drunk captian? And were are these boats based out of and the Nationalities of the Crew?
thanks alot Also if Anyone has any pictures New or Old of these ships i really would love to see them and bring back some childhood memories
Eddie
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  #2  
Old 7th October 2009, 20:52
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Eddie welcome to this great site
Best wishes
Bert.
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  #3  
Old 13th October 2009, 23:34
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Hi emsbuff124......here is GYPSUM KING
http://www.photoship.co.uk/JAlbum%20...20King-01.html

and GYPSUM COUNTESS....
http://www.photoship.co.uk/JAlbum%20...untess-01.html

Happy reminiscing....
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  #4  
Old 14th October 2009, 13:29
Nova Scotian Nova Scotian is offline  
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Gypsum Ships

Gypsum ships have quite a history here in Nova Scotia.

Gypsum continues to be shipped out of Nova Scotian ports such as Hantsport, Little Narrows (Bras dor Lakes), Port Hawkesbury and Halifax. Many of the earlier Fundy Gypsum vessels were manned by Canadian crews. I remember the Colon Brown going aground at the entrance to Halifax harbour around 1975. She was severely damaged but eventually rebuilt as the Gold Bond Conveyor. She was eventually lost, with all hands, in a storm off south-west Nova Scotia around 1993. I believe the crew was Chinese at the time.
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Old 15th October 2009, 14:16
Klaatu83 Klaatu83 is offline  
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Haverstraw Bay used to be a pretty interesting place for ship-spotting during the 1960s, when the place housed one of the ready-reserve fleets of mothballed WW-II ships. However, most were either re-activated during the Vietnam War or scrapped during that decade, and now nothing remains but a single anchor on the riverbank to mark the spot. In addition, the old Hudson River Dayliner "Alexander Hamilton", one of the last side-wheelers still in service anywhere, could often be seen steaming majestically up and down the river between New York and Poughkeepsie.

All that is pretty much gone, now. The Alexander Hamilton was wrecked by a storm at her moorings out at Sandy Hook, while awaiting permission to be towed upriver for conversion into a restaurant. The once-thriving Haverstraw brick-making industry (they once made all the bricks used in the construction of New York City) has been eclipsed by bricks made literally by slave labor in China. All that remains are a few scows loading paving gravel from the trap-rock quarry below High Tor, and who knows how long that may last?
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  #6  
Old 21st October 2009, 14:26
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Here is the GYPSUM EMPRESS. I never saw them living in the UK
but I hope it brings back good memories.
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File Type: jpg 21-10-09 gypsum empress xxx.jpg (15.5 KB, 82 views)
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Last edited by scorcher : 21st October 2009 at 14:35.
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  #7  
Old 23rd October 2009, 19:22
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Welcome onboard to SN and enjoy the voyage
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  #8  
Old 4th February 2011, 06:44
LaFlamme LaFlamme is offline  
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Trip up the Hudson River

Eddie,
I know that you posted this more than a year ago, but I joined this site a few days ago, and I chance a response anyway.

Your entry immediately brought a big smile to my face. I made a couple trips to Stony Point on the Gypsum Queen, in 1968-69. That was always a thrill to go that far up the Hudson, and especially if one was lucky enough to be at the wheel (That was part of the job). No video game will ever give anyone as much pleasure as steering a large ship - up and down the Saint Lawrence seaway for example, going through all the locks.

I don't remember much about Stony Point, except that as soon as we got off the ship we seemed to be in town. Very few of us even carried cameras in those days, so I doubt tat I have any picture. I should look at my old pictures sometime...

Whenever, later in life, I mentioned going up the Hudson River, I would get blank looks back. Either people didn't understand what I meant, or they thougt I was exagerating. Thanks for the wonderful memory.
LaFlamme

P.S. The Gypsum Queen flew the British Flag, the captain was American and most of the crew were Canadians, with a couple guys of other nationalities. The adventures we had....

Last edited by LaFlamme : 4th February 2011 at 06:50.
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  #9  
Old 30th January 2016, 01:59
BigMig BigMig is offline  
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Fate of Fundy Gypsum

Hi Eddie.
I joined this site to try to answer your question. I was crew aboard both the Gypsum Countess in '69/'70 and the Gypsum Prince in '70/'71. R.T. Luckey captained the Countess and Norman Crowe mastered the Prince. We carried rock from both Hantsport and Little Narrows to ports along the eastern seaboard of the United States - Boston, Staten Island, Haverstraw, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Norfolk and Jacksonville during the spring, summer and fall. In the winter we would do charter work carrying rock from Kingston, Jamaica to Freeport, New Orleans, Houston and Tampico. Quite often we'd pick up grain in New Orleans on the way back to Kingston. The Caribbean was fantastic and I still visit on a yearly basis, although I've been ashore since 1971.
Our crew at the time was mostly Canadian, although I understand that the company switched to Philipino crews some time after I left. Fundy Gypsum ceased operations in Nova Scotia a few years ago. Her 2 newest ships are now lading iron ore in Africa. Hope that helps! I drive by the old quarry from time to time, and a lot of vivid memories come back. In my time aboard the Countess and Prince I would have visited Haverstraw 4 or 5 times. I don't remember much except that there was a pool hall not far from the plant where we'd go to down a few.
BigMig
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  #10  
Old 2nd February 2016, 21:55
Bill.B Bill.B is offline  
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Worked all the Gypsum ships calling into Norfolk. Queen, King and A V Kastener. There was a later one but can't remember the name. At the time, 1987 -2000 ish they had British Captains and Chiefs. Can't remember the rest. They then came under management of some Bermuda company and went down hill. The building bust pretty much saw the end of them here in Norfolk. Nice ships to work on. Queen and King had Redifon WT stations and Kastener Sailor. Used to work on them in Baltimore and once in Wilmington NC.
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  #11  
Old 21st February 2016, 21:14
LaFlamme LaFlamme is offline  
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Greetings to everyone who has read and participated in this thread over the years.

I have to correct my own post of February 2011. I sailed on the S.S. Gypsum Countess, with Captain Luckey, from August 1969 until June 1970 (not the Gypsum Queen). I recently discovered my mistake when I exchanged some private messages with BigMig after he tracked me down. That shows that a man my age should double check his memories, or at least look at his own seaman's discharge book.

BigMig and I sailed on the Countess at the same time, on the deck crew. It was such a pleasure to reconnect with him after all those years. He has a much better memory than I do of the other crew members, and he was even able to dredge up a couple of photos from that time.

In my youthful insouciance I didn't record the names of all those men I worked with, nor took many pictures. I wish I had. But to be able to exchange news and common stories with BigMig is such a gift.

I hope others who worked on the Gypsum ships will share their memories with all of us. They were great ships, with great crews.

I would love to see pictures of the Countess, maybe someone will have some that they can share with us.
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  #12  
Old 22nd February 2016, 00:53
LaFlamme LaFlamme is offline  
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This is one of the few pictures I have of the S.S. Gypsum Countess.

We were loading salt, in the Bahamas, probably in early 1970.
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File Type: jpg 963791024 (4).jpg (507.7 KB, 27 views)
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  #13  
Old 25th February 2016, 00:25
BigMig BigMig is offline  
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Shipmates

LaFlamme, you are too hard on yourself. Your memory is every bit as good as mine. You remember events well while I seem to remember the crew. Which is odd to me, since I was OS on the Gypsum Countess, and condemned to the 4-8 watch. I seldom had any interaction with the crew during the day ( I was sleeping ), and most of the time people were in their cabins in the evenings. The next year I shipped on the Gypsum Prince as an AB, and got to experience ship's life as you have so eloquently described it to me.
It's been a long time since I gave much thought to my time at sea, but living in a closed environment with 31 other crew, all with different personalities, was often challenging for a relatively inexperienced sailor. I had spent time aboard CSS Maxwell in 1968, and MV Calgary Catalina in early 1969, but they had small crews and shorter times at sea.
I thank LaFlamme for rekindling my interest in what was a very interesting and formative time of my life. We continue to rediscover interesting aspects of life on the Countess 1969-'70.
And like him, in 1971 I met my wife-to-be and said goodbye to the sea.
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Old 25th February 2016, 02:50
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Just to say, what an interesting thread.
A fleet that I knew nothing about, and it's really nice to see old shipmates making contact again.
Bravo!
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  #15  
Old 25th February 2016, 07:20
LaFlamme LaFlamme is offline  
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Dickyboy,
Thank you for your encouragement. You may just have opened the doors to a lot of recollections, haha. BigMig and I have exchanged emails after we found out that we sailed on the S.S. Gypsum Countess together when we were young sailors. I am not the most knowledgeable about the Gypsum ships, but I am happy to share what I know. Others will hopefully fill in more information.

As far as I know, there were 5 Gypsum ships at that time, in the 1960s and 1970s: Gypsum King, Queen, Prince, Princess, Countess. Others came before and after I gather, such as the Duchess and the Empress. They were owned and operated by the American Gypsum Company, and as others have previously mentioned, they carried gypsum from a few ports in Nova Scotia, but mostly out of Hanstport, destined for the gypsum plants the company operated in the major East Coast cities of the U.S. as well as of the Gulf of Mexico. The ships I know about were all self-unloaders.

The crews were mostly Canadians, and many of the officers were American or British. The ships were impeccably maintained, and I always believed that there must have been a competition between the Captains as to who had the best looking ship.

As BigMig wrote, we also carried a lot of grain, salt, and other bulk cargoes between the U.S., the Caribbeans, Mexico and Canada. For example, loading Wheat in Quebec City destined for Haiti. We had regular runs, but then we never knew where we were headed next. It was really exciting.

We had a lot of good times, plenty of adventures, as all merchant seamen have experienced, and we worked hard. The deck crew bunked three to a cabin on those ships (the Bos'un had his own). We loved going south in the winter, but we all had our share of winter storms and hurricanes. We also had long periods of chipping and painting, haha.

I think that we all enjoyed going up the Bay of Fundy (highest tides in the world), to Hanstport, our main loading port, also where crews rotated. Going in, the bow would almost be out of the water, all ballast water pumped out. We would approach the dock riding the tide, bottom almost dragging in the mud. We had 3 hours to load 10-11,000 tons of gypsum, the ship sinking in as the tide rose. Three hours sharp and we cast off, going down the Bay to the Atlantic. I always found those few hours exciting. All deck hands working, even those who just came aboard, just enough time to get your bunk and get your gear ready for work. It was dusty, noisy, but so well rehearsed that it was always a perfect ballet. Then, as soon as we finished stowing the lines and batten the hatches down, we would start washing down the whole ship, some of us starting from the bow, others from the stern. Unless it was nightime of course.

Last fall, in October 2015, I made a visit to Hanstport. Nothing happening there now in terms of gypsum shipping, but it was good to see the old "home port", so to speak. I also bought a book written by St Clair Patterson, from Hanstport, titled "Gypsum Royal Fleet". I have only read a few pages here and there, but it is basically the history of the gypsum shipping industry, from the days of the schooners, to the present. He has some pictures, and a lot of the history of that part of Nova Scotia.

Nice memories for an old man (Not so old, come on...)
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  #16  
Old 25th February 2016, 19:22
BigMig BigMig is offline  
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I'll add a bit to LaFlamme's commentary. The vessels in the Gypsum fleet had an interesting configuration. The main cargo area was bisected longitudinally by an 'A' frame that rose roughly 10 - 12 feet if memory serves. In effect the vessel than had 2 'V' shaped cargo areas. Because the vessels always travelled back to Nova Scotia light, the 'A' frame allowed for extra ballast volume. Even so, as LaFlamme noted, on arrival in Hantsport our draught was 15 ft. at the stern and 7 feet at the bow. This was the case on both the Countess and on the Prince. Quite a difference from the 22 - 24 feet we drew when fully laden with gypsum, which despite its soft texture was a very heavy mineral. Loaded, we could make 12 knots; returning north, and far enough offshore to hit the Gulf Stream, we could make close to 20. Getting back to the holds, the cargo area was divided into 7 smaller compartments which were separated by bulkheads. At the base of the 2 'V's were cargo belts which ran for'/aft to a transverse belt beneath the stern deck. This belt could be extended laterally to deliver cargo to hoppers onshore. There were 70 large wheels above each of the 2 long. cargo belts which were operated manually. They opened gates which would allow the rock to tumble onto the belts for delivery ashore. We never touched the wheels in the Atlantic ports, but we unloaded all manner of cargo in the Caribbean. I remember unloading grain in Kingston, Jamaica, and it was 120 degrees in the ships belly. I had so much dust stuck to me when I was relieved that I looked like the Pillsbury dough boy. It's a wonder we have lungs left...
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