US Brig Niagara returns home to Erie in good shape after spending two months in Cleveland for maintenance.
“She is doing very well at the moment,” said Captain Christopher Cusson on Tuesday. “We gave her a lot of love … to get her ready for the next sailing season.”
The tall ship was scheduled to leave the Great Lakes shipyard in Cleveland at around 3 p.m. on Tuesday and arrive at around 9 a.m. Wednesday at its home port, the Erie Maritime Museum, Cusson said. He said good places to watch Niagara’s Return would include Dobbins Landing, near Rum Runners and on either side of the Presque Isle Canal. Captain William Sabatini, executive director and fleet captain of the Flagship Niagara League, said the Niagara could cross the channel Wednesday between 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m.
The Niagara was relaunched on Monday with water touching its keel for the first time in two months, according to a Facebook video featuring Cusson and Sabatini.
The Niagara left home for Cleveland on October 13 to undergo repairs and a US Coast Guard inspection. The work was to include regular maintenance of the wooden ship’s hull and Coast Guard inspection is required to allow visitors to board, officials said. Monday’s video showed the ship’s fresh red, black, yellow and white paint.
Officials said the work was paid for with the Pennsylvania Keystone Funding through the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and money from the Flagship Niagara League.
The US Brig Niagara is a square-rigged, two-masted sailboat originally built in Erie in 1813, according to the Flagship Niagara League website. The latest version of the Niagara was released in 1990 and features original wood as well as modern diesel engines.
Cusson said the brig will use these engines to return to Erie, as her sails and rigging were left here. The Niagara has not sailed this season due to COVID-19.
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The Niagara was part of Oliver Hazard Perry’s fleet when it defeated the British on September 10, 1813, at the Battle of Lake Erie. Niagara became Perry’s backup flagship when he was transferred there after his original flagship, Brig Lawrence, was taken out of action during the battle.