Saint Paul Packetboat
In building and sailing the St. Paul we have tried to celebrate the accomplishment of Commodore Vitus Jonassen Bering, the great Russian explorer who discovered Alaska in 1741," recounts Michael Poboronchuk, skipper of the replica. "Sadly, when returning to Russia, a huge storm wrecked the St. Paul and 31 sailors lost their lives, including Commodore Bering. Many adventurers have constructed replicas of Columbus' vessels and retraced his route to America. But we are the first expedition to follow heroic Bering's course 250 years later. And now we gone well beyond Alaska!"
In 1991, with the help of friends, Michael and Irene Lomonossova constructed a replica of a famous vessel from an old Russian drawing. The resulting vessel is 50 feet long and 12 wide and only draws five foot of water. As she has no sailboat keel, she is relatively unmaneuverable and rolls a great deal in high waves. She was built totally from one-inch, soft white pine planks. The entire bottom of the ship is covered by thin copper sheets to protect against worms and barnacles. She is steered only by a long and heavy tiller and has a diesel engine. With a tail wind using the square sail, she can reach 4 to 6 knots.
"We left our home in Russia's largest Pacific port, Vladivostok, on June 27, 1991. After sailing through the Japanese and Okhotsk seas, we departed the USSR from the Kamchatka Peninsula, crossed the North Pacific, visited the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, Canada, the USA, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. After crossing through the Panama Canal we have been in Colombia, sailed along the Gulf and East Coast of the USA, and passed through the Erie and Welland canals to arrive here in Canada. Behind us are 12 countries and 20,000 miles or 32,000 kilometers. We have weathered five hurricanes, 140-knot winds and 20-meter waves (which were twice as high as our masts). Pirates boarded our boat in El Salvador; we were robbed in the Republic of Panama; and were arrested three times in Latin countries. But you can read all about our adventures in our book, The Waves over the Masts, for which we are looking for a translator and publisher.
Michael and Irene share their boat with Koozya. "On a cold, rainy night he came to our boat in Seattle, a tiny, wet, skinny and hungry kitten. The USA couldn't save him and he came to Russian territory to ask for food and political asylum. Koozya has traveled with us already 15,000 miles and he has girlfriends in ten countries -- plus approximately 200 kittens without tails, that we now need to support. Our cat is the first to travel around the world with a real human passport. King of the Conch Republic Mel Fisher donated to Koosya the citizenship of his country.
"As ambassadors of Russia we are sailing around the world with a mission of peace, friendship, culture and education. Our boat serves as a small wooden bridge between many people. Now she is a living museum of our common heritage. We are honorary citizens of New Orleans, Mobile, Kingston (N.Y.), the Conch Republic, and many mayors have given us flags and keys to their cities. We have been filmed for Russian and American documentary films and for a Mexican art serial - the equivalent of 120 movies.
"We are probably the first global expedition that has
kept afloat so long and gone so far without any sponsors. But everywhere we meet
friendly and good people. They give us free mooring, show us their towns and so
forth. We also support our sailing by our own art. We create pictures, icons and
portraits, wooden dolls and eggs, which we give to people for donations. Also we
have for sale a professional quality video with original music about our travel,
which has been successfully shown a few times on Russian TV. In each port we
show our art and slides of our travel to schools, institutes, churches, yacht
clubs, museums, libraries? We are ready for slide and art shows anywhere! But
first of all - here and now!"
Date: Tue, 02 Apr 2002 23:12:00 -0900
Subject: St Paul is bogus
Tom: Regarding your site: http://www.schoonerman.com/st-paul.htm I've done a lot of research on the St Peter and St Paul, the two vessals Bering and Chirikov discovered Alaska in, and the St Paul shown in your site is definately not an accurate copy of either vessal. The Russian claims about vessal authenticity are entirely false. Perhaps what they built is a copy of an earlier vessal used by Bering or others to explore the waterways of Siberia, but it is not the St Peter or St Paul used to discover Alaska. These were much larger vessals of 80 feet by 22 feet drawing over 9 feet and rigged as brigantines. If anyone has built a replica of Bering's ship I am unaware of it. A well researched model is on display at the following (Finnish) museum site: http://www.johnnurmisensaatio.fi/samlingar4.htm#
Another reasonable model is on display at the museum in Anchorage. As an authoratative site on historical ships you might want to investigate the claims of the Russians (the Lomonossovas), or at least clarify that their boat is not a replica of the vessals used to discover Alaska.
Yours, Mike rostron, Haines, Alaska