Daryaw Steals Into Port Like Ghost of Past
Rochester Writer Sees Schooner In Light of Fading Romance
Close hauled it seemed on a wind of dream to those few who were fortunate enough to see her, the old lake windjammer, Mary A. Daryaw, two-master, 125-foot topsail schooner, Capt. Henry Daryaw commanding made the port of Rochester late Saturday out of Kingston after a cargo of coal and after a wait for a fairing wind cleared today, says Charles A. Rawling in the Rochester Times-Union.
The ancient schooner, sixty years old, is one of the three that remain on Lake Ontario and is the first sail-driven cargo vessel to make this port in ten years.
Without a camera or a whistle to do her homage she closed in silently on the harbor piers from the eastward in Saturday evening's dusk. her every rag was flying; foresail, mainsail, main gaff topsail, staysail, standing jib, flying jib, jib topsail They stood out "nigger-healed" and black with decades of coal dust, clear etched against a thunder squall making a gray and sullen in the western sky. A light southeasterly breeze canted her just enough to vie her an element of grace as she moved up the fairway burdened with dignity and years.
"Yes," Captain Daryaw, who has sailed fresh water for most of his life, admitted, "she is an old vessel, but we made the hundred-odd miles from Kingston in daylight. Come aboard. "
Once on deck she seems more than ever a movie setting. her spars, to one who accustomed to the spindly sticks of small yachts common to these waters, are as redwood tree trunks. The main topmasts towers 125 feet over the deck. The fly at the top masthead brushed the power wires strung across the river at the harbor mouth, as she came up stream. The mast hoops are large enough for a barrel. Her shrouds are cables as thick as a man's wrist and sweated taught, wonder of wonders, with lignum vitae dead eyes.
Catted against her bows are two gigantic anchors with stocks of wood and as big about as a man's body. Her long horn extends up and outward until it is a dizzy distance over the water.
There is no "dusty going" for the old vessel. The reef points as heavy as the main sheet common to these waters were pointed out in wonder. "Never use those at all," the Daryaw's mate announced. "Never as long as I've been windjamming on these lakes. "
The captain, mate, two men and the cook make up the schooner's crew. When the number was marveled at Dan'l Sofie, sixty-five years old, as straight as spruce and as hard as one of the dead eyes despite forty-five years in lake sailing vessels, patted an old serviceable steam winch affectionately on the drum.
"This iron jackass is as good as five lads, or maybe ten," he stated with such an emphasis of conviction that it made Captain Daryaw laugh. It seems it took Dan'l ten years to admit a winch worked in any other fashion save by five huskies. "Yo! Heave! Hoing," at the bars was worth deckroom.
Dan'l in his forty-five years of windjamming has seen all that fresh waters afford. He has been ice-bound in the Soo, taken off old coffin ships that opened up like berry crates in gales, has beat the straits of Mackinaw in pitch black night with the snow flying so thick that you could not see the binnacle and the lead, a chart and a good seaman's guess were all they had.
"Why only last year," the mate said, "I had an inklin Dan'l was down under the water along side and I fished around with a ten-foot pike pole. " He an eye toward Dan'l hedging forward to disappear down the companionway. "Sure enough, there he was spread out in the bottom like a frog. i fetched him out, and he was blue, as blue as the cook's whetstone. he said he was sick and fell in. That's what he said he was anyway."
Lashed into the shrouds was a long pole with a small wooden box nailed on the end. "That is what the old lady gets her bran mash from," the mate volunteered. "When she gets to leakin' we fill that with sawdust, shove it overside against the seam and the water takes the dust into the leak and plugs it. "
Perhaps Rochester will see one or two of the old vessels such as the Mary A. Daryaw again, but it it is doubtful. They have been down under the rapidly onrushing stem of progress for only a few generations but what they stood for is as dead as Atlantis. But to see one again is to realize as better men since Melville have said that "men have left the sea and gone into steamboats" and that most of the beauty and adventure has gone as payment for efficiency.