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Sunday, July 31, 2016

The "Visiting The Schooner American" Story

The Lobster House on the left is alongside the Schooner American.
It was an ordinary day.  Sitting inside The Lobster House Restaurant looking out the window at the Schooner American which sits adjacent to the restaurant on the waterfront in Cape May, New Jersey.  Had it not been for the thermometer hitting the mid-90s today, Carol and I more than likely would be sitting on the schooner having lunch instead of inside in the air-conditioned restaurant.  It was years ago that we shared our first meal on the schooner with my mom and dad while visiting my mother's cousin who owns a home in nearby Stone Harbor, NJ.  The Schooner American has a history rich in maritime background.  It was back in 1954 that the Laudeman family opened The Marine Bar, a small burger and seafood restaurant, along the waterfront in Cape May.  Ten years later a catastrophic fire hit Cape May's waterfront and the Laudeman's ended up expanding into what is now The Lobster House Restaurant on Fisherman's Wharf.  
The Schooner American can be seen on the left in front of
The Lobster House in this photo showing the waterfront.
It was at that time that Mr. Laude- man (Wally) decided to find a schooner to dock next to the restau- rant which could serve as a bar to compliment the restaurant.  The schooner "Roy M", a 125-foot fishing schooner, was located and delivered to Cape May from Nova Scotia.  The schooner was renamed Schooner American and began serving drinks as well as burgers which were made in the restaurant and taken to the lower deck of the schooner.  The wooden schooner eventually saw its best years and 20 years later a second Nova Scotia schooner arrived on the waterfront at Cape May.  
The second schooner to be known as Schooner American.
This schooner was first known in its early existence as the EF Zwicker when it was built in 1934, then as The Captain James Cook when used as a fishing trawler.  This schooner was purchased and renamed Schooner American by Wally to replace the exhausted first Schooner American.  It was a white, wooden hulled, 140 footlong schooner. It eventually became too costly to maintain and the Laudemans decided to make the next Schooner American a steel one.  The Schooner American which sits outside our waterfront view window today was built in Dorchester, MD on the Tuckahoe River by Yank Marine.  
Another view of the Schooner American
which is right outside The Lobster House.
It took a year and a half to build and in the spring of 2001 it was delivered to The Lobster House.  At that time the second schooner was
 scuttled offshore and the new one was placed next to The Lobster House.  This schooner offers both a bar and restaurant seating topside and features the hatch, fittings, and captain's wheel from the original Roy M and Captain James Cook Schooners.  The masts stand high above the deck without any sails, but the ship is definitely seaworthy.  I recently read that Lancaster artist C.X. Carlson, who I have featured in a few stories in the past, had painted an oil of The Lobster House and the Schooner American which was purchased years ago by a family which featured a young daughter named Susan.  Eventually Susan met Wally and they married and now that Carlson painting has become part of the Laudeman family and part of the story of the Schooner America.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

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