MARCO POLO DREAM LIVES
Ogden has big dreams for a scaled-down version of the clipper ship Marco Polo.
From start to finish, Mr. Ogden expects this Marco Polo replica will cost about
$180,000. It's a fraction of his original $28-million proposal for a full-scale
sailing replica that he began pushing for in the early 1990s.
17-year quest to replicate
clipper inches nearer to reality
$10,000 needed to complete first phase of project
BY SANDRA DAVIS
When the first pine
ribs and crossbeams for Saint John's Marco Polo arrive at Long Wharf early next
year, Barry Ogden's 17-year dream of building a replica of the famous clipper
ship will be one giant step closer to reality.
to build his scaleddown version of "the fastest ship in the world" on Long
Wharf near the entrance to Harbour Passage, with community dollars and local
Today, Mr. Ogden is announcing a plan to raise
$10,000 to complete the project's first phase. That includes cutting, milling
and transporting the wood from Sussex and shrinking the Marco Polo Project's
original replica design to about one-third.
As he stands
at the entrance to Harbour Passage, artist's rendition in hand, Mr. Ogden
gestures through the mist toward the water, pointing to the spot that he thinks
would be perfect.
The actual location has not been
approved yet, but he envisions his replica sitting near the lip of Long Wharf
or in thwe water on a floating wharf, near the start of Harbour Passage. The
clipper ship will have a couple of cabins and along with being a tourist
attraction will be available for rent for special events.
He explains he has settled on a non-sailing, 27-metre
(90-feet) long version with a 18-metre (60-feet) main mast. "It's still bigger
than the Bluenose," Mr. Ogden pointed out.
From start to
finish, Mr. Ogden expects this Marco Polo replica will cost about $180,000. He
and some retired shipbuilders sat down and came up with the figure based on
building it one-third the size of the original ship. The floating wharf option,
which is the one Mr. Ogden prefers, will cost an additional $60,000 to $80,000.
Time sets sail
Here is a timeline of events leading up to the
current Marco Polo replica project.
1987 - Marco
Polo group organizes under leadership of high school teacher Barry Ogden.
November 1991 - Marco Polo Project estimates it will cost $28
million to build the sailing madeto-scale replica and floating dock.
November 1992 - The proposed Marco Polo II is tentatively approved
by Lloyd's, the world's largest safety certification society for ships. It
would carry 64 berth passengers, 150 daytime passengers, plus a crew of 40.
1993 - Project hits a snag when consultants hired by the Department
of Economic Development and Tourism figure it will cost $30 - $40 million.
July, 1993 - Marco Polo Project members want to set up their own
outdoor construction yard known as a green field site and build a reproduction
themselves, cutting costs by $10 million. Tourists would pay money to watch the
December 1994 - A budget crunch means there won't be
any government funding for the estimated $21-million project. Federal
politicians aren't convinced the project has enough private backing and
provincial ministers said they don't have enough money. Promoters were looking
for $9 million from the federal and provincial governments, $2 million from the
city, and were hoping to raise $10 million from the private sector. It was to
have been built by 2000 and moored at Market Slip.
January 1999 -
Half-scale model of the Marco Polo is proposed, called Spirit of the Marco
Polo. No cost calculated.
October 1999 - Barry Ogden estimates it
will cost $2.5 million to $3 million to have a non-sailing replica of the
famous ship built and docked at the port, complete with an interpretation
May, 2000 - Marco Polo project is denied millennium funds.
Federal officials say it was because the proponent could not come up with the
money or a convincing plan that it would be completed before the Canada
Millennium Partnership Program expired in March 2001.
Nov. 19, 2003
- The Saint John Inner Harbour Land Use Plan includes building a replica of the
Nov. 24, 2003 - Mr. Ogden announces the Marco Polo will
be built on Long Wharf and begins a fundraising campaign to get the first
$10,000 in place. Total cost: $180,000.
Comparing the original Marco
Polo to its planned replica.
Built 1851 in Courtenay Bay and launched at
Marsh Creek by James Smith
Main mast: 54
metres (180 feet) tall
Three complete decks
(184 feet) long
10.8-metre (36-foot) wide deck
Marco Polo non-sailing replica
To be built by Barry Ogden at Long Wharf beginning 2004
Main mast: 18-metre (60-feet) tall
27 metres (90-feet) long
3.6-metre (12-foot) wide
CLIPPER:Wood for replica
It's a fraction of
his original $28-million proposal for a fullscale sailing replica that he began
pushing for in the early 1990s. The new, modest pricetag includes labour and
gifts in kind.
As soon as the first $10,000 is raised,
the wood will be cut and brought from Sussex, he said. There's no business plan
in place yet, but there is a board of directors, made up of some of the people
who served on the original Marco Polo Project committee. He wants to see the
replica completed by next fall.
Wood to build the ship
has been identified and is being donated, with Mr. Ogden picking up milling and
trucking costs. Saint John High School's computer-aided drafting class will
work on scaling down the 40 pair of ribs and Simonds High School woodworking
students will cut them. That kind of cooperation and donation of time is worth
about $15,000, Mr. Ogden figures. He'll also look into the possibility of
So far, Mr. Ogden has a retired
contractor and a couple of retired shipbuilders on board to help him.
"What I'm counting on is the public coming forward with
gifts in kind, labour and cash. I really think we can pull this off."
Ross Jefferson, general manager of the Saint John
Waterfront Development Partnership, believes the timing couldn't be better. The
project is mentioned in the Saint John Inner Harbour Land Use Plan, released
"I think people will start to believe that
when we do invest and support these things, things happen. We think it's a
terrific opportunity and we're really pleased that Barry is taking the next
step on this."
Mr. Ogden is not disappointed that this
Marco Polo will not sail; about 60 to 70 per cent of tall ships are not
seaworthy, he says.
"The greatest strength of the tall
ship story is the story itself and the ability to walk on board," he said.
The original Marco Polo was launched from the yard of
James Smith at Marsh Creek April 17, 1851. She was the largest ship the yard
On her most famous voyage, the Marco Polo
sailed from Liverpool to Australia in just 76 days, making her the fastest ship
in the world. Previous voyages had taken 100 to 120 days. She sank in July of
1883, off Cavendish, Prince Edward Island.
Mr. Ogden sees
the Marco Polo as a project that will foster pride in the community, and bring
new wealth and new attention to Saint John.
"It will tell
the story of the Marco Polo and of Saint John shipbuilding. It's an
international story and the story starts here. We're a port city looking out at
the world. This has been our history. It will promote the idea that we're a
working, active port."
Donations to help build the Marco
Polo are being accepted at any Royal Bank, TD Canada Trust, or any Bayview
Credit Union in the Greater Saint John area.
recyclable bottles can also be made by Fundy Redemption Centre, Fairville
Bottle Exchange, Golden Mile Redemption Centre, Hawkes Redemption Centre, K. V.
Redemption Centre, Pubs Redemption Centre, Grand-Bay Redemption Centre and the
Millidgeville Redemption Centre.
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