A Floating History Lesson

June 13, 2014
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Onrust10-IMG_0310By John Burton

HIGHLANDS – Friday was a good day to sail the Shrewsbury and Navesink rivers, especially in a reproduction of an early 17th-century Dutch cargo ship.

It was a clear, warm afternoon, with high, puffy clouds and just enough of a breeze on June 6 as the Onrust prepared to set sail from the dockside at Bahrs Landing to Red Bank for an evening cocktail reception at the Monmouth Boat Club.

The craft then went on to Fair Haven Yacht Works and back to Red Bank’s Marine Park on Sunday for the public to get a chance to see the vessel up close.

The Onrust’s visit was due to the efforts of the Navesink Maritime Heritage Association, an educational organization, to highlight its work and in honor of the state’s and Monmouth County’s 350th anniversary.

Onrust6-IMG_0660Charles Ladoulis, president of the association, said the visit was to give area residents an appreciation of what life was like more than three centuries ago.

“I’ve been doing the river for years,” regularly sailing the area waters, association member Tom Gibson said. “But, to be on a ship like this,” he said of the 52-foot wooden ship with its 17-foot masts, “you’re learning a lot from this.”

The Onrust is an exact reproduction of the type of ships found in the harbor of New Amsterdam (now New York) that transported goods and carried the earliest British settlers across Sandy Hook Bay to settle in the Two River area.

Onrust3-IMG_0701The only concessions to modern needs were an engine, navigational equipment and an easier accessible and functioning lavatory or “head,” the captain, Michael Abegg, said.

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Abegg and his five-member all volunteer crew sailed from Kingston, N.Y., to Brooklyn, before setting off for Monmouth County.

“It does give you a sense of history,” Abegg said as crewmembers fired blank charges from the ship’s cannons – much to the surprise of other, more contemporary watercraft.

“I know I love to sail,” crew member Sarah Trefethen said. “But this gives people pleasure who may not get out and experience this very often. It gives them a chance to connect with history.”


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