SACHEM Discovered, New York, NY / Kentucky – 2009
On the Mike's Maritime Memorabilia pages, we have mentioned that the famous Sheepshead Bay party fishing boat "SACHEM" (also known as the "CELT", the "USS SACHEM" (SP-192), the "SIGHTSEER", the "CIRCLELINE SIGHTSEER" and lastly as the "CIRCLE LINE V") was dismantled in 1984. After much debate and many unfounded claims that she was never scrapped, something wonderful happened.
Seeing is believing! The remains of the "SACHEM" are shown in this photo taken on Halloween Day October 31, 2009. All that is left of this 108-year old vessel is a rusted hull, but the distinctive lines of her bow and the peeling and faded paint showing the remnants of the Circle Line logo and "CIRCLE LINE V" name cannot be denied. A couple of years ago, the final remains of this ghost ship were discovered on private property, hidden from view, and lying in the mud of a narrow and shallow creek. The creek is off the Ohio River in of all places, the state of Kentucky, and the only way to get to the spot is by kayak.
It is truly amazing that someone had the compulsion to sail the "SACHEM" from New York and put it in their back yard in Kentucky. And utterly astounding that they got this 186-foot long vessel so far up the little creek. The story goes like this... After the Circle Line stopped using the vessel for tours, they stripped her of all useful equipment and timber, and removed the pilothouse for use as a ticket sales kiosk. They donated what was left to the Sea Scouts and she wound up sitting idly at a pier at Weehawken, New Jersey. In 1984, we thought she was dismantled, but it turned out that this was not the end of the story.
The events that took place after that are still unclear, but the vessel was removed from Weehawken and temporary repairs were made. Outfitted with an outboard propulsion unit, the "SACHEM" headed up the Hudson River, traversed the Great Lakes, went through the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, down the Mississippi River and finally up the Ohio River to this Kentucky creek in the late 1980s. The passage took forty days and she has remained there for more than twenty years!
We wish to extend our gratitude to Henry Dorfman and James Happe for venturing to her out-of-the-way location in their kayaks and photographing her. To most folks, she is nothing more than a rusted hulk, but to a few, she represents an era long gone, or an old friend thought to be lost.