Kaiulani's Wheel

The Maine Maritime Museum’s Peter Upton approached NMHS recently with questions about the provenance of the ship ‘s wheel from Kaiulani,

the barque that the Society was originally organized in an effort to save.

While the rescue effort was unsuccessful, the wheel is displayed p roudly inNMHS’s headquarters in Peekskill,

New Yo rk, as an inspiration fo r its ongoing efforts.

M r. Upton wrote: I have no doubt that the Kaiulani’s wheel appears to be a Sewall-wheel, but the provenance trail remains somewhat murky.

Your wheel is reputed to be the one that was presented to President Johnson by Philippines President Macapagal in 1964.

The Kaiulaniwas owned by a Filipino company, and the ship was physically in the Philippines. Would chat it were so straight-forward!

The helm was dearly not seen in photos taken in 1965-66; the latest date I saw the wheel still on the ship was a picture of Kaiulani’s only two captains,

dated on the back as 194 1 (see photo right)-probably just prior to her voyage to Durban,

South Africa, with cargo of lumber. At this point an alternate path can be posited.

A February 1978 letter to Peter Stanford puts the wheel in the hands of a man named Winter, in San Carlos, and indicates that Alan Hutchison bought it from him for $ 500.

This may link to the comment by Maine Maritime Museum’s senior curator Nathan Lipfe rt in his March blog that Kaiulani’s wheel was removed in Australia,

which could certainly have been done in 1942 when she was converted to a barge for WWII service. What did Alan Hutchison do with the wheel?

As a member ofNMH S and involved in the restoration of the Kaiulani, did he present it to NMHS? Of course, none of this helps me with determining the history of a different Sewallwheel, one that was photographed bya MMM member in the Falklands in 1979.

I have been unable to find a record of a Sewall-built vessel that was condemned in the Falklands,

nor do I have any information that these distinctive ships’ wheels were used on vessels built by other shipbuilders.

For that matter, I haven’t been able to find a source for ships’ wheels, in general-either built in a yard or purchased from someone like a local wheelwright.

I look forward to any information you may be able to give me.

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