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New Jersey State Tall Ship

A. J. Meerwald

A. J. Meerwald

Adopted on April 21, 1998.

The majestic schooner, A.J. Meerwald, was named New Jersey's official tall ship in April 1998. It not only serves as a sailing classroom for grades fourth to twelfth, the A.J. Meerwald has also earned a spot in the National Register of Historic Places.

The A.J. Meerwald is a Delaware Bay Oyster Schooner. It was originally built to meet the needs of New Jersey's oyster fishing industry. The ship was built in 1928 in Dorchester, New Jersey.

New Jersey State Tall Ship: A. J. Meerwald

A. J. Meerwald

The A.J. Meerwald is a traditional Delaware Bay oyster-dredging schooner. She was commissioned by the Meerwald family, a prominent local family that who owned deveral other oyster boats. She was built in 1928 at Charles H. Stowman and Sons Shipyard in Dorcester, NJ, on the banks of the Maurice River.
The A.J. Meerwald worked in the Delaware Bay oyster trade until 1942, when she was commandeered by the Coast Guard for use as a fireboat on the Delaware River. At that time, her sailing rig was removed. In 1947, she was bought by, and named after, Clyde A. Phillips. When the oyster industry collapsed in the late 1950s, she was converted for surf clamming in the lower bay and ocean. By 1979, she was idle. After changing hands several more times, she was donated to the Delaware Bay Schooner Project by Capt. John Gandy in 1989. She was hauled out of the water, fully restored by the Schooner Project, and relaunched in September, 1995. In April, 1996, after a complete, authentic restoration costing about $700,000, New Jersey's official tall ship, the A.J. Meerwald is now available for two-plus hour tours of the Delaware Bay. Call (800) 485-3072.

A.J. Meerwald is now becoming a familiar sight along the Delaware Bay and River and the coastal ports of New Jersey. In addition to providing educational services to school groups, the schooner has a public sail schedule for anyone who wants the experience of sailing on a beautiful classic sailing craft.

  • 1928 - Meerwald family of South Dennis commissioned Charles H. Stowman & Sons shipyard to build the A.J. Meerwald. She was a bald-headed (without topmasts), gaf-rigged oyster dredge. Her construction is "oak on oak": oak planks laid on oak frames as was the tradition in Dorchester built vessels. She has relatively light scantings, no knees, and no horntimber, also characteristic of Dorchester schooners.
  • 1942 - June, the Maritime Commission commandeered the A.J. Meerwald under the War Powers Act. She was turned over to the US Coast Guard who outfitted her as a fireboat. The vessel underwent a dramatic change at this time, with most of her sailing rig being removed.
  • 1947 - January, the A.J. Meerwald was returned to the Meerwalds. Eight months later, they sold the vessel to Clyde A. Philips who used her as an oyster dredge under power.
  • 1957 - Oyster industry crashed with the sudden appearance of the parasite MSx.
  • 1959 - Ownership passed to Cornelius (Nicky) Campbell who outfitted her for surf clamming. She operated primarily as a clam dredge into the late 1970's. She was essentially retired until her donation the Schooner Project in 1989.
  • 1995 - The A.J. Meerwald was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.
  • 1996 - Put back into service in 1996 after a complete, authentic restoration costing about $700,000

Characteristics

Sparred Length: 115'
Length on Deck:
85'
Draft:
6'
Beam:
22'3''
Rig Height:
70"
Freeboard:
4'
Sail Area:
3562 sq. ft.
Gross Tonnage:
57

New Jersey Act Chapter 9

CHAPTER 9

An Act designating the schooner A.J. Meerwald as the New Jersey State Tall Ship and making an appropriation.

Whereas, The A.J. Meerwald is a Delaware Bay Oyster Schooner, built to meet the needs of New Jersey's oyster fishing industry which, at the time, was the backbone of the region's economy and culture; and

Whereas, Constructed in 1928 in Dorchester, New Jersey, the A.J. Meerwald was one of hundreds of schooners built along South Jersey's Delaware bayshore representing a nationally significant vessel type designed and built only in New Jersey; and

Whereas, The Delaware Bay Schooner Project was founded in 1988 to conserve and enrich the history, culture and environment of the Delaware Estuary and the coastal waters of New Jersey; and

Whereas, The A.J. Meerwald was donated to the Delaware Bay Schooner Project in 1989 and was painstakingly restored by dedicated New Jerseyans; and

Whereas, The Delaware Bay Schooner Project uses the ship as a sailing classroom to promote ecological and historical awareness of the Delaware Bay and the waters of New Jersey; and

Whereas, In 1995, the A.J. Meerwald was added to the National Register of Historic Places; and

Whereas, New Jersey is a maritime state with a rich heritage and vast natural legacy worthy of celebration, recognition and stewardship; and

Whereas, The A.J. Meerwald is an ideal symbol of New Jersey's great heritage and an effective classroom for teaching the youth of New Jersey; now, therefore,

Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

C.52:9A-8 A.J. Meerwald designated New Jersey State Tall Ship.

1. The schooner A.J. Meerwald is designated as the New Jersey State Tall Ship.

2. There is appropriated $95,000 from the General Fund to the Delaware Bay Schooner Project for the maintenance and operation of the A.J. Meerwald.

3. This act shall take effect immediately.

Approved April 21, 1998.

New Jersey Law

The law designating the schooner A.J. Meerwald as the official New Jersey state tall ship is found in the New Jersey Permanent Statutes, Title 52, Section 52:9A-9.

Title 52 State Government, Departments and Officers -
52:9A-8 A.J. Meerwald designated New Jersey State Tall Ship.

52:9A-8. A.J. Meerwald designated New Jersey State Tall Ship.

1. The schooner A.J. Meerwald is designated as the New Jersey State Tall Ship.

L.1998,c.9,s.1.

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