Swift underway

The Swift of Ipswich under full sail.

Old Ship

At 11 a.m. this Friday, Dec. 6, Los Angeles Maritime Institute will be hosting a launch ceremony for The Swift of Ipswich, the ship that once served as actor James Cagney’s personal yacht. The 70-foot wooden vessel, a replica of a Revolutionary War privateer, was built in 1938 in Ipswich, Massachusetts.

The viewing platform and reception area for the launch ceremony is located at Southern Pacific Slip next to Carl Cheng’s “Ghost Fish 107” sculpture near the intersection of Sampson Way (Harbor Boulevard) and Berth 73 in San Pedro. Light refreshments will be served and there is free parking in the Ports O’Call lot near building G.

“The restoration took 12 years and cost more than $3 million,” according to Hal Barstow, a former board member and 20-year volunteer with the Maritime Institute. The vessel will rejoin the Los Angeles Maritime Institute’s fleet of tall ships used for youth sail training on the San Pedro-Wilmington waterfront.

Barstow said, “Cagney purchased the ship, moving it to Newport Beach as his private yacht. There are a number of local boaters who remember those Newport Harbor days with the Cagney brothers sailing. We are hoping they will share their stories as they witness the launch.”

The yacht was used in several Hollywood films and television shows, including “Treasure Island,” “Fantasy Island,” and several commercials. Cagney sold the ship in 1958 and it was used for harbor tours before the institute acquired it in 1991.

The other three ships in the fleet — the Irving Johnson and Exy Johnson brigantines are based in San Pedro and one day soon American Pride, the official Tall Ship of Long Beach — will call Rainbow Harbor home.

Bruce Heyman, Los Angeles Maritime Institute executive director, said, “Wear and tear took its toll on the Swift over the years, requiring a new wooden deck. But once work began, workers discovered that many more repairs would be needed. Structural and design changes were required to comply with updated Coast Guard regulations.”

Soon the Swift will increase the Top Sail program’s capacity by about 3,000 students a year, shifting a focus to serving more upper elementary and lower middle school students.

New Ship

This Sunday, Dec. 8, the newest ship sailing out of Long Beach, the 1,060-foot Carnival Panorama, will arrive in local waters. It stops first at Berth 46 near the Lane Victory, later moving to Berth 92, and then Long Beach, next to the 1,019-foot Queen Mary. Her christening ceremony there on Dec. 10 will be presided over by Vanna White of “Wheel of Fortune” fame. She will be the ship’s godmother.

With the maiden voyage on Dec. 11, Carnival Panorama will offer a variety of onboard innovations, including a trampoline park, a culinary studio and a water park. The ship also will feature Guy’s Smokehouse Brewhouse featuring barbecue favorites created by Food Network star and longtime Carnival partner Guy Fieri, as well as craft beers brewed right on board.

Signal Hill

Richard Whiteley and Bob Zellmer, founders of the Signal Hill Yacht Club, have upped their game for this year’s annual yard party, with local band “The Wilsons” performing.

What started 11 years ago as a 50th birthday party for Zellmer at his brother’s 29th Street commercial property in Signal Hill, morphed three years later into the Signal Hill YC yard party. The tradition has continued, and the annual event is on the first Friday in December. Sailors are invited via Facebook, with details including this year’s new venue.

Commodore and vice commodore elections follow the model created by Golden Gate YC, where the top posts are permanent positions. Accordingly, those flag officer titles will be held by Whiteley and Zellmar until further notice.

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