Marco Polo Project Saint John New Brunswick


David Nickerson/Telegraph-Journal
    Barry 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
ATTRACTION: $10,000 needed to complete first phase of project

November 24/03

   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.
    He plans 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 sweat.
   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 construction.
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 centre.
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 Marco Polo.
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.

Ship Shapes

Comparing the original Marco Polo to its planned replica.

Original Marco Polo
• Built 1851 in Courtenay Bay and launched at Marsh Creek by James Smith
• Three masts
• Main mast: 54 metres (180 feet) tall
• Three complete decks
• 55 metres (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
• Three masts
• Main mast: 18-metre (60-feet) tall
• One-and-a-half decks
• 27 metres (90-feet) long
• 3.6-metre (12-foot) wide deck

CLIPPER:Wood for replica being donated

   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 government grants.
   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 last week.
   "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 had built.
   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.
   Donations of 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.