Rebuild Independence Group ambassador visits Stonington, Connecticut

American River resident Doug Gray last month travelled to Stonington, Connecticut, USA as an ambassador extraordinary of the Rebuild Independence Group.

Stonington is in the area from which captain Isaac Pendleton, master of the brig Union, which visited American River in 1803, hailed. It is half way between New York and Boston, and was once a centre of the US sealing industry.

Pendleton was also progenitor of the schooner Independence, a full size replica of which is being constructed in American River on Kangaroo Island, South Australia.

Accompanied by his wife Annabel, Doug visited Stonington armed with gifts.

These included a letter of introduction to the first selectman, equivalent of Stonington's mayor, Rob Simmons from Kangaroo island mayor Michael Pengilly.

He also brought along a plaque made by Greg Roberts in commemoration of the Stonington sealers and the Independence rebuild.

The RIG visit to Stonington made it to the local newspaper, The Day.

The RIG visit to Stonington made it to the local newspaper, The Day.

During their visit, Annabel and Doug met with representatives of the Stonington Historical Society and Mystic Seaport.

Mystic is a town near Stonington and they met with selectman John Prue, who is a Pendleton descendant.

The plaque was presented at a reception at Palmer House, which Doug described as "stunning, grand and oozing with New England charm".

It is hoped that the plaque will be displayed in a new exhibition featuring American River and the events of 1803.

In turn, Rob Simmons presented Doug and Annabel with a Commendation "in recognition of their journey half way around the world to pursue the historic details about a band of intrepid American Sealers...".

Doug and Annabel also visited the grave of Isaac's wife, Anne Pendleton, and the memorial to Isaac Pendleton who, sadly, did not return from his voyage to the South Seas.

RIG looks forward to a growing relationship with the people of Stonington and area. - David Cowans

Artist Nick Pike's impression of the Independence.

Artist Nick Pike's impression of the Independence.

RIG workshops resume

RIG project planner David Churchill has given an update on the ship building project and resumption of evening workshops:

During the winter we have placed the keelson and stem. We are at a stage of the build where there is only work for two or three people in truing up the frame and checking every measurement.

This will continue until it is proved that the framing is absolutely true, before we can start planking. It could take a few weeks.

The planking timber is in the boathouse and once we start planking we should have jobs for every one and the vessel will really start taking shape.

People have asked why we can't get on with other parts of the vessel. Unfortunately when building a "one off" vessel like this you have to build each piece as you go.

Each item must fit exactly. For example you can't fashion the deck knees, until you have the deck beams in place. We will look at doing the blocks, dead eyes and pins, as they are separate items.

We also do not want at this stage to do any building "off site" as we are very conscious of the need for quality control by the boat builder.

Also our boathouse has been passed by the Marine Surveyor as suitable for building the vessel to survey - not any other premises.

Thanks again for your past help and we look forward to the resumption of the workshops. - David Churchill