History of the Tug Wendy Anne
STORY REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION FROM THE OCTOBER 2008 BEACON
Many boys grow up dreaming about someday having their own boat—especially boys with a grandfather as able a seaman (and owner of a mighty work boat) as Clyde Fogg. But few show the dedication and effort needed to turn their aspirations into reality. Matthew Fogg proved an exception to the rule.
In courting his wife-to-be, Wendy, Matt shared his vision and it resonated with her also. After all, Wendy was born on the Hudson where ships of every size passing day and night had carved out a niche deep in her mind. When he expanded on his dream, it quickly became her dream too.
Matt had already prepared himself, reading every book he could find, talking with every old salt, graduating from the Great Lakes Maritime Academy, and becoming a licensed captain and engineer. Now it was time to act, to obtain his own boat—the tug of his dreams. But that was not so easy to do.
Husband and wife team Matt and Wendy kept abreast of every new listing. They traveled to Massachusetts, Florida, and Maine, and twice to Duluth, to look at tugs, without finding what they wanted. Finally, in the spring of last year, they found one that seemed promising—a 75' Army tug on the East Coast.
The Wendy Anne started her life in 1954 at Smith Basin Dry Dock in Port Ever Glades Florida, as “Tug ST-2199.” Along with two other sister ships, she was put on a container ship and sent to England where the tugs sat on dry dock for nearly 40 years in a ready-to-serve state. They were launched during the Persian Gulf War in case they could be of use.
Sometime in the mid ‘90s, all three made their way back to Fort Eustis, Virginia, where they were used at a naval base to escort ships and barges. In 2003, the U. S. government auctioned the three off to private individuals as surplus equipment. ST-2199 ended up in Boston harbor where the previous owner had hopes of using her for the construction of the “Big Dig” (the Central Artery/Tunnel Project).
In May of 2007, Matt and Wendy Fogg purchased the tug and had it towed from Boston to D.N. Kelley Shipyard in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, the oldest family run shipyard in the U. S. dating back to the late 1700s.
Then the retrofit began. She needed much work to become a usable commercial vessel again. The old equipment was obsolete, and the interior outdated and designed for soldiers. But the hull and superstructure were in mint condition. The entire interior—engine room, galley, staterooms, and pilot house, had to be gutted, sandblasted, cleaned, and rebuilt. Matt and Wendy had the ideal talents to take this on, with Wendy handling the interior design and Matt the mechanical and electronic side. New wiring (AC instead of DC), a new generator, new custom bunks and galley, and a modern head were on the agenda.
First, they found a replacement engine (an 800 hp Cat) in Oklahoma, bought it, and shipped it to Fairhaven. They had to prepare her for the new engine, which meant building new engine beds to hold her, removing the fiddly (the area above the engine room, which supports the stack), and lowering the 13-ton Cat in. No problem; there was even ¼" to spare. Removing the old 8-burner diesel army-style stove proved more of a challenge; in the end, it had to be cut up to get it out.
Fairhaven carpenter Tony Macedo did excellent work and became a great, lifelong friend. The entire shipyard team performed wonders, but still much of the work fell on the shoulders of Matt and Wendy.
Even a few of their friends lent a hand. Heather Cary accompanied Wendy to the shipyard for a week of hard work (capped by a weekend of sightseeing in Manhattan), Ken Bruland pitched in by restoring the original wooden wheel into a work of art, and Mike Weede flew out to be part of the crew to sail the Wendy Anne home when the work was finally done.
After the christening and launching in July, the tug was ready for sea trials. On August 7th—Wendy’s birthday—the Fogg family, Jon, Sally, Matt, and Wendy, set sail together on a great adventure. That night they tied up at Block Island and were surprised to discover they were surrounded by thousands of squid. A singing “muffin man” came past in the morning, selling his baked goods and fresh coffee from a dinghy.
With such a complex project, there were bound to be kinks. They had to return to the shipyard to replace a failed electronic controller and heat exchanger—twice, the second time causing the engine to overheat. The news from home wasn’t good also. In rapid succession they heard that Robert Gillespie was in the hospital, and Jerry LaFreniere had passed away. They pulled their hopes and prayers together as a family and set sail for Beaver Island on August 15th.
Along with Mike Weede, the tug sailed through the night, passing through the Long Island Sound to Hell’s Gate and into the mouth of the East River, then all of Manhattan, passing the U.N. Building, Ground Zero, the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island.
After a quick tour of the city they set off up the Hudson to Troy, NY, the beginning of the Erie Canal. On the way, they were lifted through lock after lock, in each one tying off, untying, and retying as the tug rose. Wendy’s job was to tie lines in the locks and check clearance of low bridges, sometimes with only inches to spare, while Captain Matt safely navigated.
They passed by familiar towns, met burly loch-keepers who showed off their neat, flower-bedecked little houses, and found that those who saw the Wendy Anne were fascinated. At one point they came upon a bluegrass “concert on the green,” where everyone waved. Later, passing by an outdoor restaurant, the patrons stopped eating, stood up, and clapped as the Wendy Anne steamed by, offering a series of glass-raisings to toast the unique ship. Matt acknowledged the diners with a couple friendly blasts.
Everywhere they stopped, people clamored to come on board. Some drove to the next town to see them again. Water fowl seemed to accompany them—a sure sign of good fortune. Wendy counted 42 blue herons along shore during the trip.
Soon they were in Lake Ontario, with the weather warm and calm. They had been alternating crewmates, with Wendy’s parents joining during the Erie Canal and Matt’s for most of the trip. At one point when Jon and Sally were aboard, the weather was so perfect that they cut the engine, got into their swimsuits, and jumped in, including the West Highland Terriers.
Packed with freighters which dwarfed the tug, the 8-loched Welland Canal near Niagara Falls was not as idyllic. These massive lochs are designed to accommodate the world’s largest ships. At one point in the canal they came upon a small sailboat that had been held up all day to make way for industrial cargo. The Wendy Anne took it under her wing, and ushered it through, making yet another friend.
The good weather held until they reached the Mackinac Bridge. After four hours of tossing and turning, Beaver Island came into view, and soon they were tying up—on September 2nd. Four weeks after their departure from Fairhaven, the Wendy Anne was home. The best news was that the tug performed admirably all the way back. Now Matt and Wendy are ready to put her to work, hauling whatever needs to be hauled from one port to another.