The Cruise of the Sailing Ship Onrust
2014 was the 350th anniversary of the founding of New Jersey. New Jersey was a little late in getting founded because it was controlled by the Dutch who were interested in maritime and trade, but not all that much in settling the landward side of Nieuw Amsterdam. This changed in 1663/1664 when the Dutch ceded Nieuw Amsterdam to England and British farmers (rather than Dutch traders) felt that it was time to officially settle the land we now know as New Jersey.
The first recorded visit of English settlers to what is now New Jersey took place between December 5-11 1663 when some settlers chartered a ship and sailed from Gravesend, (Brooklyn), Long Island, to the Raritan Bay and up the Raritan River.
When the English took over Nieuw Amsterdam in 1664, the first Governor, Richard Nicolls, issued Letters Patent that officially allowed settlers to buy land in New Jersey. The most significant settlement that occurred was by a few English Quaker and Baptist families who left Gravesend Bay, Brooklyn and arrived in Monmouth County near the mouth of the Navesink River in the summer of 1664.
They came by boat and Navesink Maritime Heritage Association felt it should commemorate this event with a visit to the Navesink by a proper vessel. It turns out we knew about such a vessel, it is the Onrust. The Onrust is a 2009 replica of the sloop Onrust, the first European vessel built in our part of the world in 1614 (yes, that is exactly 400 years ago!) and that was used by Adriaan Block (of Block Island fame) in his regional discovery voyages. The vessel is a dead ringer for the type of vessel that the settlers would have used.
Martin & Ottaway agreed to coordinate the fundraising that would ensure that the vessel could make the voyage. They were joined by a group of local maritime companies who, together, funded the Cruise of the Onrust to commemorate the European Settlement of Monmouth County.
These start-up funders were joined by a number of other generous sponsors and in late May, 2014 the Onrust sailed from her home port in Waterford to Sandy Hook bay under command of Skipper Mike Abegg and a combined crew of Monmouth County and Waterford, NY volunteers.
After stopping in Erie Basin in Red Hook, Brooklyn where she was generously hosted by Hughes Marine, she sailed through the Narrows to Highlands, New Jersey and after a photo op with our Seastreak sponsors arrived at Bahrs on June 5, 2014.
The next day she sailed up the River and over the weekend went on various sails and provided public access at Fair Haven Yacht Works and at Marine Park in Red Bank.
Almost 1000 people visited the Onrust and over 100 people had the opportunity to sail on the Onrust during a beautiful weekend.
There were many highlights during the weekend, but a standout event was the Monmouth Boat Club reception, hosted by NMHA and MBC and supported by the Laird Family. Lisa Laird Dunn, Vice President of Laird & Company, introduced the guests to that most worthy and historic Monmouth County cocktail, the Jack Rose. Once a cocktail standard, in the recent past it has faded somewhat in stature, but MBC, with the Onrust moored at the end of the dock, was the perfect setting for the return to prominence of this superb cocktail. All attendees, without exception, were thrilled with its flavor (prepared under supervision by a direct descendant of the 1780 founder of the company) and its ties to Monmouth County.
While the parties and visits were fun, the real thrill was the sailing. John Luard, as crew coordinator, ensured that the Onrust was provided with both experienced, novice and seascout crew, all of whom got to experience what a 17th century vessel feels like and sails like.
Captain Abegg and the Waterford crew were committed to sailing the Onrust. That meant that the engine was only used to keep the schedule, and that sailing on and off the dock were standard practices. While the Onrust is no speedster she is a steady sailor, remarkably handy and much more maneuverable than one would expect. She is a big vessel for the Navesink, but once she was on the Navesink it was immediately clear that as long as the tides were observed, she was perfectly suited for the Navesink and from a colonial perspective her carrying capacity made the Navesink an important commercial river right away.
To sail the Onrust on the river really was a trip back in time and provided deep insight in what life was like 350 years ago.
The Onrust actually carried a piece of cargo from Albany to the Navesink. Scarano Boat Building in Albany is the winter storage yard for the Onrust. The Scaranos donated a splashboard carving for the new Clearwater Garvey and it was loaded on the Onrust in Albany and delivered to the garvey builders when the Onrust arrived in Fair Haven.
On June 9, the Onrust sailed home to her berth up the Hudson river, but undoubtedly there will be more historic ship visits in the future. We have learned how to do it, and most importantly, we have learned to appreciate and enjoy it.
Thanks to Greta Wagle, the Onrust Project and all its volunteers. Your vision and hard work over the last 10 years made all of this possible.
Thanks to all our supporters and sponsors, it was a great event and a perfect way to commemorate 350 years Monmouth County!