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She was built the shipyard of J. M. Mendes in Setubal, Portugal to fish the Grand Banks off Newfoundland. Her records, as she now stands, date from 1901.
Only the logbooks from 1903 and 1904 have survived, so the very first years of Gazela‘s life are sketchy. In 1903 the captain was Paulo Fernandes Bagao. He began the log on May 18th of that year, there was a crew of 50. The ship left Anchorage at 5 a.m., was towed down the Tagus River and set a course west along the 38th parallel upon reaching open water. She averaged 100 miles per day and reached the Grand Banks on June 7th, after having sailed 1900 miles. The next 126 days were spent in the area, daily (weather permitting) putting the dories out and making an occasional trip to St. John’s for supplies.
Gazela‘s last trip to the Banks as a commercial fishing ship was made in 1969. The captain, Anibal Carlos da Rocha Parracho opened the ship’s log on May 25th, and fifteen days later, the ship was on the Banks. Because of wretched weather – fog, wind, storms – and a broken steering gear, the fishing was almost in vain and the ship was moved to the Virgin Rocks Banks. Storm after storm and equipment troubles continued to plague the ship. During the next 123 days only 76 were spent fishing and the catch averaged a low 9,300 pounds per day.
About the time Gazela was laid-up after her final voyage to the Banks, the Philadelphia Maritime Museum was searching for an historic sailing vessel. Word reached Gazela‘s owners and she was purchased for the museum by philanthropist William Wikoff Smith. On May 24, 1971, with a crew of Americans (including one former Gazela engineer), the ship left for its new home in Philadelphia arriving on Thursday, July 8th.
Within her first year in Philadelphia, she was being worked on to receive touring groups. Unfortunately, work was abruptly interrupted on January 2, 1972 when she was almost destroyed by an arsonist’s fire.
The museum announced that Gazela would participate in the 1976 Bicentennial “Operation Sail,” during which she would join company with many of the world’s remaining tallships in the last leg of the Op Sail race from Bermuda to Newport, Rhode Island. New York harbor would host the fleet on July 4, 1976.
Starting in March of 1976, three months of intensive maintenance was begun. On June 6th, with a crew of 55, including 35 Naval Sea Cadets, Gazela began the voyage to Bermuda, arriving on June 12th Early on the afternoon of June 20th, the fleet got underway and moved toward their starting positions. But, during the last five minutes before the race, Gazela was sandwiched between Mircea and Christian Radich, two much larger ships. Her topmast crashed to the deck, the fore and jib stays parted and the end off the t’gallant yard was broken. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt and Gazela returned to Bermuda for temporary repairs.
From 1976 to 1990 Gazela sailed up and down the east coast under a number of captains for the Maritime Museum and, later, the Penn’s Landing Corporation. During these years she had extensive maintenance and repairs to her hull, spars and rigging as well as receiving a new engine.
In 1990 ownership passed to the Philadelphia Ship Preservation Guild, a relationship which has continued to this day. With a strong volunteer program, she has extended her range of activities to include parts in a couple of films and sailing farther from home as well as extensive and ongoing repairs.
In the summer of 1995 she visited St. John’s, Newfoundland, for the first time in 25 years, a homecoming of sorts.
Gazela is continuing to be under repair at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia. Volunteers have been making the time to come and work on her so that she can be restored to her former glory and set sail again.
TUG BOAT JUPITER
The tug Jupiter was built in the Philadelphia shipyard of Neafie and Levy in 1902. She is believed to be the oldest tug still active that represents their work. Built of steel, she was made for the Standard Oil Company and christened Socony #14. From 1902 to 1939, she was in service in New York, towing Standard Oil fuel ships and barges.
In 1939, Independent Pier Company of Philadelphia bought the tug and renamed her Jupiter. Philadelphia became her home port, and she was utilized by Independent Pier for various commercial towing activities.
During World War II, the tug was involved in the launching of the numerous naval vessels from the shipyards along the Delaware River. She was the first tug to the catch the lines of USS New Jersey during her launching.
In 1949, Independent Pier Company purchased two decomissioned LST landing craft. These vessels were towed by Jupiter to Spedding Shipyard in Baltimore. At the shipyard, Jupiter, along with the tug Saturn (also owned by Independent Pier), underwent major refits.
In 1999, Jupiter was purchased by Penn’s Landing Corporarion and turned over to the care of the Philadelphia Ship Preservation Guild. Currently, she takes part in educational programs, festivals, and boat parades.