Replica of historic ship to visit area June 5-8
By John Burton
RED BANK – This is a big year for the Navesink Maritime Heritage Association and the public, which will get a chance to see close up a replica of the sort of ship that regularly sailed the local waters about 350 years ago.
Along with sponsoring the voyage of the Dutch sailing ship Onrust to the area, the historical and educational not-for-profit foundation is establishing its permanent home at the Grover House. The historical structure, circa 1730, is situated in Middletown’s Stevenson Park, West Front Street, in the township’s Lincroft section.
The association is having the Onrust set sail in early June for the shores of the Navesink River to help with the new headquarters’ renovations. Funding will be from sponsorship and donations.
“This is our way to commemorate the 350th anniversary of New Jersey and Monmouth County,” said Charles Ladoulis, president of the Navesink Maritime Heritage Foundation.
The Onrust – which is Dutch for restless – is an exact replica of 17th-century Dutch sailing vessels. It will set sail from Albany, N.Y., traveling to Gravesend, Brooklyn, and then will sail across Sandy Hook Bay, arriving in Highlands on June 5. It will dock at Bahrs Landing at 2 Bay Ave.
Plans call for the ship to then sail on Friday, June 6, to Fair Haven Yacht Works at 75 DeNormandie Ave., Fair Haven, and then make its way to Red Bank’s Marine Park for Saturday-Sunday, June 7-8, to allow ample opportunity for the public to see and experience the ship before it makes its way back across Sandy Hook Bay for Brooklyn, according to association members.
The original Onrust was built in New York Harbor during the winter of 1613-1614 by Adriaen Block at a time when New York was known as New Amsterdam. The ship was Block’s recreation of the vessel that carried him to the New World from the Netherlands but burned to its waterline in 1613. He used his ship to sail up and down the region’s coastline – he named Block Island, R.I., – and into Long Island Sound, moving trade goods, before returning to Europe on another ship.
According to information provided by the maritime association, the last mention of the Onrust was in 1616 in Connecticut.
“This was undeniably the first vessel built in New Amsterdam,” said Rik vanHemmen, the association’s vice president.
During that period, the New York area was populated by the Dutch, who used the region for trading posts and other business ventures while English settlers populated the north and south of the area, vanHemmen said.
But there were Englishmen in the area, many of them Baptists and Quakers who were seeking refuge from the religious bigotry and persecution they found in their own English settlements, Ladoulis said.
Looking for their own land and religious freedom, they sailed across the Sandy Hook Bay, settling first in the Middletown-Atlantic Highlands area and infusing the area with its Dutch influences, according to vanHemmen.
The Onrust reproduction “is probably as close to the boat that would have brought these people to the area,” vanHemmen said.
The replica was constructed from 2006-2009 by volunteers, who were members of the historical education group Onrust Project, working in Rotterdam Junction, N.Y.
“This is the largest historical vessel we can bring into the area at this point,” due to the height limitations of the Capt. Joseph Azzolina Bridge over the Shrewsbury River that connects Highlands and Sea Bright, vanHemmen said.
Getting the Onrust to the area cost about $20,000, and the maritime association reached out and received support from 10 maritime-related businesses located in Red Bank and surrounding areas to sponsor the project.
Additional proceeds will help the maritime association with its Grover House project.
“It’s a big time for us,” Ladoulis said.
The new headquarters is located at the 132-acre Middletown park and will be situated near the tail end of the Swimming River.
Middletown has agreed to restore the exterior of the early 18th-century structure, built by Dutch settlers in the Dutch frame-style of the period. The structure remained in the Grover family for seven generations.
The maritime association will be responsible for raising the $300,000 needed for interior restoration and construction of a 1,600-square-foot workshop for the association’s hands-on educational projects, according to association members.
The Navesink Maritime Association was incorporated in 2001 as a 501 (c) 3 tax-exempt educational organization, according to Ladoulis, after having existed prior to that as a more informal group offering lectures, boating skill lessons and working with youth organizations on such projects as wooden boatbuilding.
The association’s mission to preserve the area’s maritime heritage continues through its sponsorship of such programs as River Rangers and the Sea Scout Ship Navesink and by working with youth, school groups and other educational organizations.