Operation of the restored A. J. MEERWALD, a Delaware Bay oyster dredge boat built in Dorchester New Jersey in 1928. The schooner is a sailing classroom promoting ecological and historical awareness of the Delaware Bay region. The A. J. Meerwald is a Delaware Bay oyster schooner, a distinct vessel that evolved to meet the needs of the local oyster fishery. Launched in 1928, the A. J. Meerwald was one of hundreds of schooners built along South Jersey’s Delaware Bayshore before the decline of the shipbuilding industry that coincided with the Great Depression
- Field trips for schools and special interest groups including wetlands walk, maritime industry tour, schooner visit, and hands on activities.
- Delaware Bay Museum, an exhibit of artifacts and photographs depicting the rich maritime history of the Delaware Bay region located in Port Norris, New Jersey. Both the exhibit and schooner are sites on the New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail.
- Future developments at Bivalve Center.
- Delaware Bay Day: A free celebration of the Bay’s rich maritime history and outstanding natural resources held the first Saturday in June. The hours are noon until the fireworks at 9:00pm.
- Monthly lecture series on topics related to the Delaware Bay’s culture, history or ecology.
- Echoes of the Estuary: a South Jersey art exhibit and auction.
- Educator workshops providing activities and curriculum for incorporating the estuary and its resources in the classroom.
- Summer Camps
The A. J. Meerwald is a Delaware Bay oyster schooner, a distinct vessel that evolved to meet the needs of the local oyster fishery. Launched in 1928, the A. J. Meerwald was one of hundreds of schooners built along South Jersey’s Delaware Bayshore before the decline of the shipbuilding industry that coincided with the Great Depression.
1928: The Meerwald family of South Dennis commissioned Charles H. Stowman & Sons shipyard to build the A. J. Meerwald. She was a bald-headed (without topmasts), gaf-rigged oyster dredge. Her construction is ‘oak on oak’: oak planks laid on oak frames as was the tradition in Dorchester built vessels. She has relatively light scantlings, no knees and no horntimber, also characteristic of Dorchester schooners.
1942: In June, the Maritime Commission commandeered the A. J. Meerwald under the War Powers Act. She was turned over to the US Coast Guard who outfitted her as a fireboat. The vessel underwent a dramatic change at this time, with most of her sailing rig being removed.
1947: In January, the A. J. Meerwald was returned to the Meerwalds. Eight months later, they sold the vessel to Clyde A. Phillips who used her as an oyster dredge under power.
1957: The oyster industry crashed with the sudden appearance of the parasite Msx.
1959: Ownership passed to Cornelius (Nicky) Campbell who outfitted her for surf clamming. She operated primarily as a clam dredge into the late 1970’s. She was essentially retired until her donation to the Schooner Project in 1989.
1998: on Earth Day, the A.J. MEERWALD was designated New Jersey’s official tall ship by Governor Christine Whitman.
2002: Delaware Bay Schooner Project becomes the Bayshore Discovery Project.
The A. J. Meerwald was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.
|Deck planLength on deck – 85′|
Draft – 6′
Beam – 22’3″
Rig height 70′
Sail area – 3562 Sq Ft
Gross Tonnage – 57 tons
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