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S.S. American Victory

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Row, Row, Row Your Boat…

March 29, 2012

I’m trying to remember how long it’s been exactly but can’t really put a number on it… that means it’s been too long. But this past weekend hubby and I dropped the kids off with my mom and went off on our own. For an adult only weekend. Two nights in a quiet hotel room without the pitter-patter of little feet, okay, so it’s really more of a stomp-stomp… you get the idea, right?

We didn’t go to lounge around on the beach or sit at some hotel pool tiki bar sipping drinks with straws in them (both of which would have been okay). Instead, we decided to soak up some history and take our chance on a 70 year old WWII ship. As some of you probably remember about a month ago we all went on a tour of the S.S. American Victory in Tampa Bay, Florida.

The S.S. American Victory in port

The S.S. American Victory is a fully-functional WWII Victory ship that serves as a floating museum. Twice a year the ship gets taken out into Tampa bay and we were lucky enough to get tickets for the first steam in 3 years.

Ready to steam away!

Hubby was pretty excited as both his grandfathers served on victory/liberty ships in the Merchant Marines during WWII. It was pretty fascinating to watch them ready the ship… the white or black smoke coming out of the smoke stack, the tugboat helping the much more massive ship move away from the dock and the people pulling off the thick lines holding the ship to the dock.

removing the last hold on land

The weather was absolutely, positively perfect… a sunny and breezy Spring day in Florida. We couldn’t have asked for better.

full-steam ahead

Hubby and I found our own little island of calm and were able to enjoy part of the cruise sitting there, watching the horizon, the sailboats with their crisp, white sails and the sea gulls flying along with us looking for some scraps of food.

our slice of heaven

The Navy send along two of their newest acquisitions and we were able to watch them go through some training maneuvers. Love this view of the down town Tampa skyline.

skyline of Tampa and our Navy companions

Big props need to go out to the Cindy E. The tug boat that stayed close to our side for the 4 hour cruise. The boat and it’s crew helped the American Victory away from the dock, turned us around when we got to the pier in St. Petersburg and made sure the ship was safely tied up again once we got back to port.

our constant companion

Part of the fun of going on this Relive History Cruise was seeing the reenactors dressed in their uniforms and dresses reminiscent of the 40’s. Here is hubby with two of the ladies…

hubby posing

In honor of all the fallen service men and women a small memorial service took place when we got to the pier in St. Petersburg. See this gun? It was actually fired 3 times. One of the other passengers, an older lady told us that 4 years ago during the cruise a burial at sea was performed.

rigged and loaded

Other than the food running out and some disgruntled passengers it was a fantastic experience and for me probably the one and only time to partake in this. Hubby is already making plans to take his dad and our boy on the September cruise. It’s pretty incredible to be able to “relive” history and steam away on a ship like this albeit under much safer conditions than both hubby’s grandpas experienced during their time on one of these.

view from the bow

 

Here are some more images from our day at sea. I took well over 150 pictures and had quite a time deciding which to share. I hope, you enjoy taking a trip down memory lane with us and if you ever find yourself near a museum ship in any port anywhere, I urge you to take a tour, look around and learn some maritime history. It sure is interesting.

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It's a ship, not a boat…

February 26, 2012

Hubby frequently tells us the difference between a ship and a boat when the kids and I refer to one or the other in the wrong way. Ships carry boats! We most definitely were on a ship for our tour of the American Victory in Tampa Bay.

After a not so stellar morning trip to the sponge docks in Tarpon Springs– I think we went too early– we decided to head back to Tampa, say a quick “Hello.” to hubby’s friends and then over to the docks at Channelside for a tour of the S.S. American Victory.

The S.S. American Victory is one of only four fully operational WWII ships in the country. It is a world-class, shipboard, maritime museum dedicated to honoring the men and women who built, sailed, protected and served through the American Merchant Fleet since 1775. To find out and learn about the American Victory please visit their website. It is chock full of interesting information.

view from the deck house to the bow

Both of hubby’s grandpa’s served for the American Merchant Fleet during WWII. His paternal grandfather worked in the galley and had his ship shot out from under him twice. He survived.

We had fun climbing all over the ship, seeing how the men and women that served there lived for months at a time. Seeing how the ship was run and serviced. Knowing that it was still functional after all this time.

we climbed a lot of these, inside and out

These quarters below are only some we’ve seen and these are pretty spacious. Not for the regular crewmen, they bunked together in a more cramped space.

See the difference in the officer’s quarters? They sure had a lot more room and much nicer accommodations. But I guess, being an officer they earned it.

Guns, guns, guns… let’s not forget the cool stuff. Everyone got in on the fun on this one. Hubby and the boy checking out the 20 mm cannon on board.

And here are my girls.

Kids putting on their sailor hats and trying their hands at the wheel.

The views from the top were absolutely stunning. Looking down the bay, seeing all the different ships and boats and watching the sun sparkle on the water… it gets me every time.

We were lucky enough to see a cruise ship (The Jewel of the Sea) docked next to us. Due to heavy fog the ship couldn’t come into port until the sun had burned it off. It was great for us, not so great for the people trying to get off and on.

The sheer size of these cruise ships is amazing and hard to fathom. I got this shot and thought it helps just a bit in grasping the enormousness of these moving hotels.

Saw this tug boat chugging along and had to take a picture. The tug boats are so much smaller than the ships they tug or tow.

Hubby is our history fanatic. Ask him any question about any war ever fought, any ship or airplane in the military and he will probably most definitely have an answer for you. See that smile? He had a blast and gave all of us a nice history lesson.

One last shot of the ship. It was a beautiful day, full of sunshine, smiles and interesting facts. Can’t wait to go back and do it again. Hubby and I may go back and take part in one of their Re-live History Cruises. They take the ship out for a cruise to the Sunshine Skyway, do re-enactments, have a band play music from the 40’s and even a WWII airplane fly over. How cool is that?