The Sachem started its journey in 1901, in Wilmington, Delaware. Intended a luxury steam yacht, it was built by the Pusey & Jones Company, a major shipbuilder at the time. Opened in 1848, the Pusey & Jones shipyard was in activity until 1959. During its operating years they made more than 500 vessels : racing sailboats, sloops, cargo ships, war sloops for the Civil War, warships and luxury yachts. Among them were the Volunteer, winner of the 1887 America's Cup, the now fully restored yacht Cangarda, the SS Adabelle Lykes, one of the first Liberty ships, the Jewish immigration ship Exodus, and many others. 

The steam yacht was ordered in 1901 under the name of Celt by the famous businessman John Rogers Maxwell from Manhattan. He was one of the wealthy figures of the late XIXth century. John Rogers Maxwell had a stunning mansion and gardens on the coast of Long Island. He was the chairman of the Executive Committee of the Central Railroad of New Jersey, and president of the Atlas Portland Cement Company for many years. The Atlas Portland Cement company is known for having supplied the materials for the construction of the Panama Canal and the Empire State Building.

Below : Rare portrait of John Rogers Maxwell Sr., born 1846.

 PHOTO FROM ROBERT B. MACKAY'S "GREAT YACHTS OF LONG ISLAND'S NORTH SHORE" P.45

PHOTO FROM ROBERT B. MACKAY'S "GREAT YACHTS OF LONG ISLAND'S NORTH SHORE" P.45

The construction of the Celt, that would later become the Sachem, started by the laying of the keel at the end of 1901, at Pusey & Jones yard in Wilmington. The steel-hulled ship was the hull number 306. One hundred frames were added on the keel in January 1902, followed by exterior plates, engine, planked decks, fittings and furnitures in that order.

Below : the Celt under construction at Pusey & Jones yard in Wilmington, Delaware, early 1902. The upper deck and roof is not finished. Note the two men who are painting flowery details on the prow. These yacht-building techniques were typic of the time.

 PHOTO FROM LIBRARY OF CONGRESS PRINTS & PHOTOGRAPHS DIVISiON, IN THE GEORGE GRANTHAM BAIN COLLECTION.

PHOTO FROM LIBRARY OF CONGRESS PRINTS & PHOTOGRAPHS DIVISiON, IN THE GEORGE GRANTHAM BAIN COLLECTION.

The yacht was as large as 186 feet long overall and 170 feet at waterline, 24 feet wide, 12.5 feet deep and about 25 feet high without the masts and smokestack. It was made with robust steel by Pencoyd Iron Works, later absorbed by Carnegie Steel then US Steel, a name that was the best guarantee of quality at the time. The yacht was equipped with a 4-cylinder triple expansion steam engine by John W. Sullivan, fed by two Almy water tube coal boilers. This gave the engine the capability of delivering 1200 shaft horsepower and a speed of more than 15 knots. The boilers had a reserve of 42 tons of bunkered coal on the two sides of the lower deck. 

Designed by Henry C. Wintringham, a famed yacht designer at the time, the magnificent vessel originally contained two deck houses, made of carved mahogany wood and two masts made out of Oregon pine. There were 9 furnished and accessorized staterooms, which were also finished in richly carved mahogany, and had adjoining bathrooms with green tilling and mosaic floor. One was for the steward, another for the cooks, two for the crew, one for the owner, three for the guests, and the captain's room on the upper deck. The yacht was equipped with modern plumbing and electric power throughout, had ample light and air, electric fans fitted to the portholes, plus in every state room an icebox, a large berth, a chest of drawers, a dressing table and a wardrobe.

The whole construction took only five months after which the vessel was christened and launched as the Celt, on April 12th 1902. The christening ceremony was sponsored by Miss Elizabeth Hunter Pusey.

Down : the Celt steaming around Long Island, not so long after completion, circa 1903.

Photo from Library Of Congress prints & photographs division, in the George grantham Bain Collection.

As an experienced yachtsman and owner of notable racing yachts, — He owned at least 27 boats from 1865 to 1910 — John Rogers Maxwell, also a long time member of the Atlantic Yacht Club, and the Corinthian Yacht Club, used the Celt around New York Bay and Long Island Sound as pleasure craft, a tender for his sailing yachts, and it was also a perfect summer home. The Celt was intended to be the flagship of his racing fleet. Furthermore, this vessel was the toast of the whole New York coastline for nearly a decade.

 Photo from "Great yachts of Long Island's north shore", page 46, by Robert B. Mackay

Photo from "Great yachts of Long Island's north shore", page 46, by Robert B. Mackay

Above : The Celt following a schooner race in 1903.

Maxwell's racing team won the King's Cup in 1907 in a sailing yacht ironically named Queen. Like on the photograph above, the Celt was often present at these races and at many New York events of the high society.

Eventually in the late 1900's the interest in yacht racing decreased — races and transatlantic sprints lost in popularity. Nevertheless, John Rogers Maxwell died from cerebral apoplexy on december 10th 1910 at his home at 78 Eighth Avenue in Brooklyn. Here ended the ship's live as a racing yacht. Maxwell's widow, Maria Louise Washburn Maxwell, later sold the yacht to Manton Bradley Metcalf Sr. of New York, who renamed it
Sachem Namesake : a chief of a confederation of Indian tribes in North America.
. Manton B. Metcalf continued to use the Sachem as a private yacht in New York waters.

Below : the Celt in Upper Bay in 1910, probably a few months before Maxwell's death. Note the important traffic in the background.     

 Photo from NYC dept. of records

Photo from NYC dept. of records

 Photo NH 102169from  U.S. Naval Historical Center

Photo NH 102169from  U.S. Naval Historical Center

Above :  The yacht Celt at anchor, photographed circa 1911, before being sold to Manton Metcalf.

Like the yacht's previous owner, Manton B. Metcalf  Sr. also had a mansion on the New Jersey coast. He worked and developed the leader company in the New England (Rhode Island) textile industry, which was producing and selling woolen products since the Civil War. He was an art collector, and donated Chinese porcelains, Greco-Roman artifacts and paintings to local museums. Manton Bradley had a rather prodigious family past : the Metcalf family is indeed one of America's oldest family, and Manton's oldest known ancestor was a British immigrant named Michael Metcalf, born in 1586, who came in America in 1637 to avoid religious persecutions. His descendants, although not numerous, have figured prominently in the history of Rhode Island and south-eastern Massachussetts for two and a half century. The Metcalf family was opulent, appreciated and their way of life between the Wars was qualified "a lifestyle that may never be equaled ".

Below :  Rare portait of Manton Bradley Metcalf Sr., circa 1921, which would be few years before his death.

 Photo from "History of American textiles : with kindred and auxilIary industries"(illustrated), page 288, by Frank P. benett, 1922

Photo from "History of American textiles : with kindred and auxilIary industries"(illustrated), page 288, by Frank P. benett, 1922

 

The strike of World War I induced a turning point for the World, including the United States and the Sachem. Germany's tactic to defeat Britain was to block supply lines coming from North America. Indeed the supplies for the Allies entered Europe through Britain. Germany would attempt to "besiege" Britain, provoke starvation and economic weakness. The newly-invented war submarine, the U-Boat, was deployed massively in the Atlantic to dissuade allied convoys to reach british harbors. In March 1917, on the belief that the US would anyway enter the war, the german Kaiser adopted an unrestricted warfare policy, in which U-Boats crews were required to target and sunk any ship that was suspected to carry supplies to the Allied.

As United States prepared to join the Allied side, a counter attack method had to be found to fight again submarines, a new kind of weapon that could strike without warning and that was for the time, extremely hard to detect.

So the U.S. Navy began requisitioning private crafts for a rent. The yachts were more versatile in size, speed and maneuverability, enough to outmaneuver and spot German U-Boats, and would constitute perfect fleet auxiliaries. The Sachem was one of these private yachts, requisitioned by the Navy on July, 3rd of 1917, and renamed USS Sachem (SP 192) - The prefix "SP" for Section Patrol is a World War I designation for the patrol crafts.

The Gas Engine & Power Co. and Charles L. Seabury & Co., Consolidated, established in Morris Heights, New York, promptly converted the ship to Navy service.  They equipped the USS Sachem with modern maritime navigation, removed the masts, sealed the ornate brass, fringed the portholes, and raised the sides to make it ocean-worthy. SP-192 was outfitted it with depth charges racks and a defensive armament : one 6-pounder 57mm deck gun, a pair of 3-pounder 37mm guns, and two light machine-guns. The USS Sachem (SP 192) was placed in service on August, 19th 1917, under the Third Maritime District and assigned to harbor patrol. The ship patrolled to spot submarines around the East Coast, the Florida Keys and sometimes down to the Caribbean.

The USS Sachem (SP-192), as a subchaser, patrol craft and laboratory, seen during World War I

Above : USS Sachem (SP 192) as it looked during World War I.

Below : the USS Sachem (SP 192) dry docked for maintenance at the Key West Navy Yard in Florida, 1917.

 Photo from Navsource, in the collection of george B. Handford.

Photo from Navsource, in the collection of george B. Handford.

But the Sachem had another mission during the war...

As Navy needed new and creative ways to defend against the German, they turned to Thomas Edison. The famous inventor is one of the world's greatest mind and inventor, and an unmatched genius considered as the father of modern electricity. He was the first to conceive a machine that could record sound : the phonograph ; to record motion : the Kinetograph (the world's first motion picture camera), the first electric incandescent lightbulb, the first electric car (even with electric windshield wipers), various electrical power distribution systems, among an astonishing 1093 patents he registered. In 1908, he even had invented prefabricated housing by improving the Portland Cement from the Atlas Portland Cement Company, directed by the Sachem's first owner John Rogers Maxwell.

Thomas Edison, after the outbreak of World War I, had a queer obsession with producing any novel ideas that would help the Navy against the German U-Boats, and was certain that he could produce defensive and offensive means for the United States.

 Photo from Govt. Archives.

Photo from Govt. Archives.

Above : Thomas Alva Edison in his Orange (NJ) laboratory with his electric incandescent lightbulbs, circa 1883.

During World War I, Edison would help the US Navy, promising to develop submarine & torpedoe detection systems and ship camouflaging systems. Edison needed an operable floating laboratory : after searching for a suitable boat to charter, the Navy gave him the USS Sachem (SP-192) in the spring of 1917. Then, they outfitted it for Edison and his employees.

From August to October 1917 Edison conducted numerous experiments onboard the SP-192 along the East Coast in New York and Florida waters, and the Caribbean. Edison, enabled to work at real conditions, dedicated all of his time to naval research. While his relations with the US Navy were tumultuous, he developed 48 to 50 projects, including the "collision mats", the "kite rudder" … which had potential but none were ever put into production due to the lack of belief and preparedness of the administration .

Below : In this rare photo by Edison's professional photographer Lewis Lueder, Edison is seen unshaven and relaxing on the Sachem (SP-192). He reportedly enjoyed his time aboard.

 photo from audio antiques llc.

photo from audio antiques llc.

 photo from National Park Service.

photo from National Park Service.

Above : Thomas Edison (down, center) and the crew members of the ship, during the time of Edison's experiments.

By 1918, World War I ended. USS Sachem (SP-192) didn't saw active combat or confirmed sights of U-Boats.  Edison's funding ended too, he returned to his business, while the Navy returned the USS Sachem to its owner they have been renting it from, on 10th of February, 1919.

Manton Bradley Metcalf later sold the Sachem to Roland Leslie Taylor. Born in Philadelphia 1868, Roland Taylor was a banker, who organized an industrial company, the Tubize Artificial Silk Co. of America. Despite being a great philanthropist, he used the yacht as a rum runner mother-ship during the Prohibition (alcohol trafficking was common).

 

 photo from Ebay Collection

photo from Ebay Collection

Above : The Sachem as in 1919, in a postcard dated 1927 sent from Roland Taylor.  Note the new masts, bowsprit and pilothouse due to the yacht's reconversion after the war.

In 1932, many years after, at the height of the Great Depression, Roland Taylor had to sell the yacht. Like all the rich businessmen, he suffered the economic chaos. The Sachem was purchased for a fraction of its value by Captain Jacob "Jake" Martin of Brooklyn, a charter fisherman who plays a key role in the Sachem's history. During the hard financial times, many of these luxurious yachts were sold at ridiculous prices. Fishing was still a recreation for some folks, but an absolute necessity for others. Jacob Martin converted the Sachem to a party fishing boat which was a large industry at the time. Jake sailed in the Sheepshead Bay of New York and along the New Jersey coast. He was an experienced captain and the Sachem was not his first vessel. Like many captains, he opened the boat each summer to anyone willling to pay $2.00 to board in. People came to party, or to catch fish to feed their families, even sometimes for the whole neighbourhood. The fishes caught during these fishing tours were sea bass, porgies, tuna, blackfish and sharks,. 

Below : Captain Jacob "Jake" Martin preparing to shoot a shark, on the upper deck of the Sachem circa 1932.

 photo from getty images

photo from getty images

 photo from mel's place

photo from mel's place

Above : An advertising postcard from 1932 depicting the young captain and his new boat during their initial fishing season.

Below : Another advertising card, circa 1933.

 photo from Mel's place

photo from Mel's place

The Sachem had much of a luxury yacht. The folks and Jake's customers were impressed it had mahogany millwork and brass light fixtures and however was used for fishing. Like the document above says, the ship was the fastest, the finest, the largest (it could handle up to 250 guests each tour), the very best of the entire Sheepshead Bay fishing fleet that counted dozens and dozens of fishing boats, and an avenue of restaurants like Frederick Lundy's which was at some point world's largest restaurant. Over the years, the fishing trips became very popular, and Jacob Martin's business flourished.

 photo from mel's place. Courtesy of Captain john bogan jr.

photo from mel's place. Courtesy of Captain john bogan jr.

Above : The ship in 1932, seen at the best of its elegance, cruising at full steam.

Below : Signs like this one, dated 1934, were a very popular form of advertising for the party fishing boats and were posted in local shops and businesses. Few of these pieces of memorabilia have survived. 

 photo from mel's place.

photo from mel's place.

During the winter of 1935-1936 captain Jacob Martin replaced his boat's steam engine and coal boilers with a diesel engine, wich was more modern and practical to use : a seven cylinder Fairbanks-Morse 37D14 diesel engine, that is still present in the boat nowadays. This engine is the last one of its kind remaining in the world. Despite a massive 20 ton engine generating 805 hp at shaft, the speed of the boat dropped at 12 knots, as the steam engine provided 1200 shp. An interesting fact is that the Sachem was the first steamer brought in Sheepshead Bay and the last to be converted to diesel.

Above :  Advertisement for the 1937 season. Note the first line changed from "Steam yacht" to "Diesel yacht"

Below:  Compared to the typical concurrents, the Sachem was quiet impressive. Here it is docked next to the Tambo III in 1936, probably in Pier 9 in Sheepshead Bay. 

Below  : Another postcard-sized advert from 1938. Under the picture, the accomodations onboard such as the resaurant are indicated.                                   

             Above : This rare colourized postcard from 1941 is the last known before the end of this part of the ship's history.

Even with the new conflict that appeared in 1939, the Sachem continued its life as a fishing vessel with Captain Jacob Martin until 1941. It was not until United States entered World War II that the boat served the nation another time.

On december 7th, 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor (Hawaii). The attack was intended to prevent America from interfering with Japanese military actions planned in Southeast Asia ; and it was aimed at the American fleet anchored in Pearl Harbor. Killing close to 2,500 and damaging or destroying 19 battleships, the attack led to the US entrance into World War II. US declared war on Japan the following day.

Facing greater threats, the Navy faced a need of patrol boats And used a second time their right to requisition private yachts. On february 17th, only ten weeks after Pearl Harbor attack, the Navy requisitioned the Sachem another time… Actually, they reacquired it for the tidy sum of 65,000$, still willing to return it to Captain Martin.

At Robert Jacobs Inc., City Island (New York), the vessel was heavily modified for naval service : painted with an haze gray paint scheme, upgraded in speed, visibility, armor plating and equipments, and armed with one Naval 3" 23 caliber naval rifle on the aft. deck, four .50 caliber M2 watercooled Browning machine guns for Anti-Aerial defense, one small Thomson machine gun on the bridge, and two Mark VI depth charge racks on the sides. The Navy also rechristened the ship as the USS Phenakite, the name of a rare gemstone. Many other requisitionned ships assigned with the same duty were renamed after gemstones.

Photo from the collection of Harold Homefield.

Above : USS Phenakite on patrol. Aerial photography of 1942, shot from an US Navy blimp.

Phenakite was commissioned on July 1st, 1942 at Tompkinsville (New York) as the  USS Phenakite (PYc-25) - "PYc" is the duty section for coastal patrol crafts. USS Phenakite  was commanded by Lieutenant John D. Lannon, USN.

The ship was later decommissioned and placed in service on november 17th 1944 under the commandment of commander Harold Homefield, USN. The USS Phenakite (PYc-25), acted as a patrol, escort and a training vessel and was part of the Fleet Sonar School Squadron, and the Key West squadron comprising another 3 ships. During the day, the ship would take on sailors from the Sonar School on training to use equipments such as the sonar which was very common since Edison's work onboard. 

The vessels in the Key West Squadron used to transfer supplies and munitions from New York and would go on patrol on a rotating basis during the night. In 1944, the USS Phenakite (PYc-25) patrolled around Key West Harbor, then patrolled in zone between Long Island Sound down until the Florida Keys, the Carolinas and Cuba, until the end of the war. On patrol, the ship would reach a speed of 15- 20 knots and had a remarkable turning range, which turned out to be very useful in the wartimes. The Phenakite did deep sea convoy escort duty when needed. The squadron would gather as a wolfpack of up to 12 vessels and US submarines to practice and escort Allied ships, thus preventing them from being attacked by German U-Boats massively hidden in the Atlantic.

Like 25 years before, the ship was tracking down German submarines but when the war came to an end, it didn't found active combat, like 25 years before.

Below : Inside the wheelhouse of the Phenakite during wartime service, on patrol. Captain Homefield is at helm.

photo from the collection of Harold Homefield.

The following year, the vessel was decommissioned and placed out of service at Tompkinsville on october 2nd 1945. The Phenakite was transferred to Maritime Commission for disposal 3 days later. Strangely, naval registers lists its transfer to the War Shipping Administration in january 1946. Like the other requisitionned crafts, the ex-Phenakite was offered for scrap, however in december 1945, Jacob Martin bought it back for $5,353. Captain Martin renamed the ship Sachem, its previous name, on december 29th 1945. Sadly, it was in poor shape. As many of the private crafts the Navy rented, the Sachem was neglected and left without the adequate attention in a remote harbor. Jake faced budget problems and couldn't convert it to a fishing vessel anymore. He had to relinquish his loved Sachem and offered it for sale.

Eventually, in 1946, it was bought by the Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises of New York.

It was just after the war, Francis "Frank" Barry, Joe Moran and other partners merged four sightseeing boats to form a leading sightseeing company, circling Manhattan Island via the Harlem Ship Canal, and operating out of Battery Park. As they wanted to add  boats to grow up their business, they were seeking for a distinctive ship that would become the company's signature on advertisements and brochures for the next quarter century. The company was able to acquire the Sachem and its turn-of-the-century distinctive lines as their flagship ;they bought it and subsequently renamed it Sightseer.

photo from mel's place.

Above : The Sightseer in 1949. Moored at the popular Pier 83, it was always the favorite and most disctinctive ship. One reason was the charm and the oddness of the welded-over-deck gun mounts remaining from World War II and its double-ended bow or "nose".

Although it was the fastest ship of the Circle Line fleet, the ship's superstructure was severely altered in order to accomodate 492 passengers on 2 decks. The ship was modernized, repainted, and so on ; its captain became Sir Harold Log, a Norvegian master and the company's senior officer. The crewmens of the Circle Line were aware and proud of the World War II past of their vessels, and the story, told to the tourists may have also been a key to the Sightseer's popularity.

Below : The Sightseer, owned by Circle Line, moored at pier 83 circa 1948. In background we can see the New York Central Ferry Catskill.

Photo from sshsa. Generous thanks to sshsa for the permission of using this document.

 Photo from Getty Images © Charles Phelps Cushing / ClassicStock.

Photo from Getty Images © Charles Phelps Cushing / ClassicStock.

 Photo from MEl's Place.

Photo from MEl's Place.

Above : A postcard dated 1951 showing the vessel during a tour around Manhattan. Circle Line indeed offered public circumnavigation of the island of Manhattan, trips would last up to 3 hours and were reputedly the best way to visit New York.

Below : Eventually the company renamed the boat Circle Line Sightseer, in the early 1950's as they reorganized their fleet's names. There we see the Circle Line Sightseer again moored at pier 83 in the head position, circa 1955.

photo from "around manhattan island and other maritime tales of new york" by brian j. cudahy.

photo from "around manhattan island and other maritime tales of new york" by brian j. cudahy.

Above : Resplandant  in old-fashioned "steamboat white", Circle Line Sightseer is seen here in the Harlem River in 1955 . The photo was taken from the bridge that once carried the Third Avenue E1 from Manhattan into the Bronx.

And lastly, after few years, its name changed to Circle Line V in the late 1950's. It's also during the 1950's that Circle Line, after a few years settling their business, divested themselves from their older vessels ; however they made an exception to the rule and kept the Circle Line V as it was the crowd favorite. Also survive to this day historic WW2 vessels Circle Line X, Circle Line XII.

 Photo from mel's place.

Photo from mel's place.

Above : The iconic Circle Line ad featuring the ship, passing the Manhattan Bridge, circa 1960. The three skyscrapers in background are the Woolworth Building, the Municipal Building and the gold-topped Federal Court House.

Below : Here seen during a sightseeing tour cruising off Battery Park, Circle Line V had the company's eye-catching color scheme.

photo from sshsa. generous thanks to sshsa for the permission of using this document.

Below : Here is an Ektachrome slide view of the Hudson river at the foot of the West 42nd Street, between Pier 81 and Pier 83 where the Circle Line V is moored on the right. The steamship on the left is the Day Line's famous steamboat Alexander Hamilton.

 Photo from the World Ship Society, COurtesy of Theodore W. Scull

Photo from the World Ship Society, COurtesy of Theodore W. Scull

 photo from mel's place.

photo from mel's place.

Above :  The ship in 1969 touring in New York's East River.

Below : Here, the boat shows a recent refurbishing. Although the date the photo was taken is unknown, it's probably from the early 1970's. Note the original wheelhouse has been replaced with a more modern, angular one that had become the company's standard.

 Photo from sshsa. generous thanks to sshsa for the permission of using this document.

Photo from sshsa. generous thanks to sshsa for the permission of using this document.

 

Sightseer/Circle Line Sightseer/Circle Line V carried an estimated 2,9 million tourists around New York under the Circle Line company. In 1977, after 31 years being in service, they removed it from their fleet. In these 31 years, Circle Line acquired faster, more modern and more practical boats : Circle Line V ended up being completely obsolete and running costs were too high for its old machinery. 

After being cut off from the Circle Line's lines, the boat was sold off for scrap; then stripped from all its useful equipment, electrics, furnishings, brass bits and timber in an abandoned pier in West New York (New Jersey) for reuse in other Circle Line boats. The pilothouse was removed for use as a ticket sales kiosk for the Circle Line pier, and what left of the ship was donated to the Sea Scouts and the ship ended up remaining derelict in the abandoned pier.

 photo from mel's place.

photo from mel's place.

Up : Ex-Circle Line V awaiting its fate in a West New York (New Jersey) cove, July 29th 1984.

In the late 1970's the Hudson River Maritime Academy cared for the degrading the ship and some volunteers of this organization continued to oversee the preservation of the vessel. The organization, which operated another 2 historic ships for the Sea Scouts, restored the teak main deck of the ex-Circle Line V and its engine room. Not so long later, the organization went bust and gave up on the ship. The ex-Circle Line V was left along the dock for years. Eventually in 1985 the owner of the pier put for sale his property, including the vessel. Everybody was afraid about having to do something with this ship, because of its size and because it was bogged. There were multiple unsuccessful tries to move the boat using bulldozers pulling from the shore,  it was troublesome for the pier owner and he needed to get rid of it.

In 1984, maritime historians assumed the vessel was scrapped, without any more trace of the ex-Circle Line V. However, despite the vessel left no trace, the pier owner had found a buyer for the desolated ship.

Robert 'Butch' Miller, a businessman who lived in Finneytown near Cincinnati, always had a passion for boats and had already bought smaller boats. Miller was looking for an old steam yacht for more than eight years when he ran across an advertisement in the Boats and Harbors magazine. He called the owner of the pier and went looking for himself in New York City. The ship had suffered neglect ; was not in running condition, parts leaking, rust, dirt accumulated over the deck, rainwater flooding the lower deck...

However, there was no other old steam yacht anywhere. Robert Miller wished to restore it for personal leisure use, whatever it would take. So he offered $7,500 and promised to move the ship in a week.

It took Robert Miller ten days to finally drag the ship out of the muddy sludge of the Hudson with help of bulldozers in 1986. Once seaworthiness repairs were done, the Sachem, as Miller wished it to be named, was operable. After that, Butch became a "dock pirate" to avoid high commercial docking  fees in New York and New Jersey. For several months, he regularly changed places to pursue repairs, going to the abandoned Stapleton Pier in Staten Island, Bayonne, and essentially Newtown Creek in New York... As he lived in Ohio, he had to drive his van to New Jersey every weekend to renovate the vessel and get it in running condition. This proved to be very difficult and he planned to bring his ship closer to pursue renovation.

Below : The Sachem in 1986 after Butch repainted and repaired it.

Note the rather disharmonic propulsion system on the rear. As the Fairbanks Morse diesel engine could not run, Butch had a Murray & Thregurtha Z-drive propulsion unit installed on the rear deck with a reused General Motors bulldozer engine to power it. It was done at a conversion site, Pier 9, New Jersey in Jersey City (now Newport City).

 Photo from Will Van Dorp's blog Tugster : a waterblog. COURTESY of Seth Tane

Photo from Will Van Dorp's blog Tugster : a waterblog. COURTESY of Seth Tane

An interesting story is that in spring 1986 soon after Robert "Butch" Miller  purchased and repaired the Sachem, during the time he worked aboard moored at the Military Ocean Terminal at Bayonne (New Jersey)  a limousine pulled up on the dock, and a representative of Madonna asked him if they could record a scene of the video for the famous pop singer's last song, "Papa Don't Preach" with the Sachem in background. Robert Miller, surprised at first, was delighted. He agreed, and refused to be offered a little commission. Madonna's top 1986 song Papa Don't Preach was centered about abortion and had a social meaning among youth.

Below : The distinctive bow of the Sachem is clearly visible in this short sequence of legendary singer Madonna's music video, with in far the Verrazano Bridge connecting Staten Island to Brooklyn.

 Photo from YouTube Clip

Photo from YouTube Clip

However  while the ship was docked in New York, the ship was twice targeted by a gang of vandals whom stole most of Miller's tools, a steam cleaner, engine parts, the 2000-pound anchor and the 900-pound propulsion unit head. Miller tried to flee the damned area but chronic engine problems forced the ship to remain grounded in expensive landings, like the Bay Street landing on Staten Island. 

Butch was convinced that to bring the Sachem closer to Cincinnati, he'd sail the ship up the New England coast and down the Saint Lawrence river to get it in Cincinnati. He set up a lawn chair on the upper deck as the helm and a broomstick tied to the propulsion unit controls below, and was able to operate and steer the Sachem at a maximum speed of 8 knots, and at no more than 2 knots against the current. Butch then navigated out of New York  harbor using a set of road maps and in no time ran aground in the fog. The Sachem was towed back into the harbor and was to remain in Newtown creek for another year. 

On July 4th, 1986, President Ronald Reagan symbolically relit the torch of the Statue of Liberty. An huge ceremony  was organized around the rededication of the Statue of Liberty, with music and fireworks everywhere in New York City. On this occasion, Miller took the Sachem away for one last memorable cruise. He filled the Sachem with friends and partygoers, whom were fascinated by the ship and its engine room, and joined the fleet of private boats gathering in Upper New York Bay.

Afterwards, Butch decided to undertake the incredible 2,600-mile journey to Cincinnati from New York, using another path : from the Hudson river, through the Erie Canal, the Great Lakes, then into Chicago, and down the Mississippi to the Ohio River, taking the so-called Great Loop.

He finally headed up north on the Hudson, passing by the Circle Line pier, where the employees were reportedly astonished to see the Ex-Circle Line V, painted in black, 9 years after it left service.

Butch's crew during the trip consisted of two to three friends, his wife and an aging Afghan hound. 

Below : An impressive picture of Robert Miller on his improvised helm on the Sachem, underway on the Hudson off Yonkers, in 1987.

 Photo from Will Van Dopr's blog Tugster : a waterblog. Courtesy of Seth Tane

Photo from Will Van Dopr's blog Tugster : a waterblog. Courtesy of Seth Tane

Amazingly Butch arrived upstate to the Erie Canal and went through to Buffalo (New York), crossed Lake Erie then Lake Huron. One day, the Sachem and its crew were detained by Canadian Port Authorities for accidentally crossing the frontier on Lake Huron near Detroit (Michigan) and Windsor (Canada).

Miller and his friends then went all the way down Lake Michigan to Chicago, where they had to take off the ship's stacks to get the ship under a low Chicago bridge. Down the Chicago River, the vessel eventually reached the Mississippi.

 Photo from Will Van Dorp's blog Tugster : a waterblog. COURTESY of Seth Tane

Photo from Will Van Dorp's blog Tugster : a waterblog. COURTESY of Seth Tane

Above : Here is the Sachem in early 1988 after passing through the Erie Canal.

They finally steered the Sachem into the Ohio river at Cairo (Illinois) and 500 miles farther, after passing the Markland Dam, they steered the ship into Taylor Creek, the tributary that flowed in Miller's plot.

This once-in-a-lifetime voyage took 40 days, ending in winter 1988.

 Photo courtesy of Lighthouse Point Yacht Club.

Photo courtesy of Lighthouse Point Yacht Club.

Above : The idle-looking Sachem in 1988 going up on the Ohio river, a few miles from the final destination.

Miller parked the vessel into the little tributary that flowed into his plot, somewhat over a mud bed, to be safe home, at a point  the ship's condition was dangerously critic. Miller wanted to create a mooring platform to board the ship and pursue repairs renovation there. But budget shortages decided otherwise...

Following 1988, the water level of the Ohio river significantly went down and sediments accumulated — leaving the ship aground in the muddy bed of the tributary. Miller couldn't have the ship moved without spending way more money than he could spend...So works ceased and the restoration never occurred.

 Photo courtesy of Lighthouse Point Yacht Club

Photo courtesy of Lighthouse Point Yacht Club

Above : On Miller's plot, the Sachem, here seen as of 1997, deteriorated and maintenance was impossible. It remained there longer than Miller had planned.

Lastly, Miller moved to other projects and retired away from Cincinnati, in Mexico, in the 2000's, selling his land to the neighbors. He  was desperate about the ship and couldn't afford to fix it anymore.

In 2009, local kayakers Henry Dorfman and James Happe were the first to find the ship in Taylor Creek and revealed it to public attention. People learned about a deserted ship that became known as the Ghost Ship. 

Below : Stern view of the deserted Ex-Circle Line V, "found" by locals 21 years after coming into the little canal. 31st  October 2009.

 Photo from Mel's Place, courtesy of henry DORfMAN

Photo from Mel's Place, courtesy of henry DORfMAN

 Photo courtesy of tom schiffer

Photo courtesy of tom schiffer

Above : Seen from the woodland around, the Ex-Circle Line V / Sachem as of November 2011. Videos started to circulate on the Internet.

In 2013, a journalist researched the Sachem's history and wrote an Internet article about it. Since then, the ship received viral attention on the Internet and was widely wrongly understood. Hundreds of people started visiting it in plain illegality, as the ship is owned by the new owner of the land around, for whom the ship and the trespassers represent an huge inconvenience.

Following the Internet article, Miller hoped to get funds for preserving the vessel, that, as he recognized, had fallen in disrepair. He worked with a small nonprofit in Lawrenceburg, to launch a campaign, unsuccessfully. No parties were found to buy the ship or take action.  In the same time, vandalism degraded even more the vessel.

In 2014, a group of enthusiasts gathered, hoping to see the ship preserved, and to find ideas to make this a reality. As of 2018, little changed for the vessel, but a nonprofit is under formation to analyze the ship's condition and provide repairs.

The history of the Sachem could end here, but at 116 years old of history akin to 20th century America we don't think so. The rest... is matter of your support.