PHILADELPHIA, December 10, 2019: The Philadelphia Ship Preservation Guild (PSPG) is pleased to announce the receipt of $100,000 in grant funding from The W. W. Smith Charitable Trust. The grant application was submitted as part of the 2019-2020 maritime grant cycle on behalf of Philadelphia’s Tall Ship Gazela, a barkentine of Portuguese origin which first sailed in 1901.
The Philadelphia Ship Preservation Guild is an all-volunteer nonprofit corporation dedicated to preserving historic ships and teaching seamanship, restoration skills and maritime science and culture. The Guild maintains and operates two historic vessels, the Tall Ship Gazela, and the tugboat Jupiter. The Gazela, built in 1901 is a three-masted barkentine with an exceptional heritage. Research suggests that she is oldest wooden Class A Tall Ship still sailing in the world, a priceless piece of world seafaring history and culture. Gazela was also one of the last working sailing ships. Until 1969 she sailed annually to the Grand Banks to fish for cod using the centuries-old long-line technique
The W. W. Smith Charitable Trust is a private foundation established by William Wikoff Smith in 1977 to make grants in the Greater Philadelphia region to support basic needs, higher education scholarships, maritime education, and medical research. The foundation’s relationship with the Gazela dates back to 1970, when Smith, a philanthropist with wide-ranging interests that included sailing and model ship-building, purchased the retired ship.
The generous funding on behalf of the Trust will enable the PSPG to accomplish a number of survey recommendations for Gazela, contributes to broadening PSPG’s office operations, and supports preparations for major projects slated through 2021, including a planned drydocking and replacement of the ship’s 1970s-era ballast tanks. These critical repairs will help Gazela continue her role as the good-will ambassador ship for Philadelphia’s international seaport, safely sail to various ports for historical exhibitions, and provide the entertainment and education experiences that hundreds of students and other visitors have enjoyed for over 40 years since her arrival at Penn’s Landing.
Melissa Black-Simmons, President of the PSPG Board of Directors, officially accepted the grant on December 3rd. The PSPG is extremely grateful for this opportunity, which will help keep the historic Gazela around for future generations to learn from. This generous grant from the Trust will enable PSPG to broaden our efforts at addressing the survey recommendations and repair needs of the ship, as well as deal with emergent issues such as the need to rebuild the anchor windlass, and plan for a periodic drydocking in summer 2020.
For more information about the Philadelphia Ship Preservation Guild or its initiatives, please contact Melissa Black-Simmons at 215-439-2781.