Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

November 10, 2013

'Peacemaker' sailing vessel wintering on Niagara River

By Danielle Haynes danielle.haynes@lockportjournal.com
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — NORTH TONAWANDA- — Smith Boys Marina has a long-term winter guest that might be turning a few heads this season.

The Peacemaker, a 150-foot-long barquentine sailing vessel is scheduled to spend the winter at the marina, catching up on maintenance as it awaits the end of the colder months, Capt. Larry Clinton said.

The Peacemaker recently made an appearance with other tall ships at Buffalo’s Canalside in September as part of the inaugural Buffalo Maritime Festival.

Clinton said he and his crew enjoyed Western New York — and their entire tour of the Great Lakes region — so much that they wanted to spend more time here.

“We had such a nice time in the Great Lakes during last summer,” he said. “Folks were so excited” to tour the ship.

It wasn’t easy to get the Brazilian-made ship to the Niagara River. The crew had to dismantle the vessel’s 126-foot masts in order to fit under the Peace Bridge and the South Grand Island Bridge, both of which are 99 feet tall, Clinton said.

The ship — originally named the Avany — was built in 1989 and was originally used by a family as a private yacht. It was then purchased by the Twelve Tribes, a religious organization that has roughly 3,000 members, many of whom operate cafes across the globe, like the former Common Sense in Hamburg, which is being reopened as the Yellow Deli.

Clinton didn’t speak much about the crew’s religious affiliation, only that they “live what it says in there,” referring to the Bible. 

The Peacemaker website says the group’s  “vision for the ship is to be a seagoing representation of the life of peace and unity that our twelve tribes are living on land in our many communities around the world. It will also provide apprenticeship opportunities for our youth to learn many valuable and practical skills, not only in rigging, sail-making, sailing, navigation, marine mechanics and carpentry, but also in living and working together in tight quarters, as well as many cross-cultural experiences traveling from port to port.”

A crew of about a half-dozen men were building a greenhouse-type enclosure above the top deck of the vessel Thursday as it sat docked so its current crew of 10 can keep a little warmer during the frigid Western New York winter.

“We do our best work in shorts and bare feet,” Clinton said with a laugh. 

The enclosure should help the lower decks keep warmer throughout the winter as well. 

The Peacemaker is made of ipewood, a solid wood that has the same fire resistance as concrete or steel, Clinton said. 

The interior is finished in warm wood and many of the doors are inlaid with stained glass. There’s enough sleeping room to sleep 24 comfortably in six cabins, but Clinton said more could squeeze in if they need to. The 4,000-square-foot interior once included 10 bathrooms, but that’s been reduced to six.

Clinton’s wife, Gwen, spent Thursday afternoon chopping vegetables and preparing dinner for the crew along with another female crew member. While they handle the bulk of the cooking, she said sometimes the men help out.

She said they have lived on the Peacemaker, touring the country for about two years now, but they’ve been involved in some manner with the ship for 14 years. 

“The Great Lakes tour was fantastic,” she said of their first visit to the region this summer.

While the Peacemaker may be out of commission for tours this winter as they do maintenance — “It’s like running a little city,” Clinton said of the work — it will be back up and running in April, when he said they expect to start up the season by opening their doors to the Tonawandas.

For more information about the Peacemaker and to keep track of their itinerary for the upcoming season, visit www.peacemakermarine.com.

Contact Sunday Lifestyle editor Danielle Haynes at 693-1000, ext. 4116 or follow her on Twitter at @DanielleHaynes1.