Essex Built Schooner Finds Latest Home In Brooklyn

My son Brian forwarded to me this post on As the post points out, Highlander Sea spent some years at the Gloucester Marine Railways undergoing a major refit .


Pilot, New Schooner Restaurant/Bar Opens in Brooklyn to Cheers and a Few Jeers

Posted on August 8, 2017 by Rick Spilman


Highlander Sea Under Sail, Photo:

Pilot, a new seasonal restaurant and bar on an historic schooner has opened in Brooklyn, NY, off Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6 on the East River. The opening has been met with cheers and a few jeers. The cheers are from those who enjoy the opportunity to dine on the water, and jeers from those who would prefer that the Highlander Sea, ex-Pilot, be restored and continue sailing.

The restaurant on the deck of a schooner is the second such venture by Alex and Miles Pincus, who also own Grand Banks, a seasonal restaurant on the fishing schooner Sherman Zwickerdocked at Pier 25 in Manhattan. See our review from 2014.

Highlander Sea, originally christened Pilot, was a gaff-rigged topsail schooner built in 1924 in Essex, Massachusetts by J.F. James and Sons. Designed by Starling Burgess, she served for 47 years as a Boston harbor pilot ship.

In the 1970’s she was sold through several owner who used her for voyaging and sail training.  Renamed Star Pilot and then Highlander Sea, the schooner was purchased in 2002 and underwent a major refit to serve as a community tall ship for Port Huron, Michigan. In 2011, the schooner was moved to Gloucester, MA and subsequently put up for sale.  Her arrival in New York in 2016 was captured by Will van Dorp on his Tugster blog.


Here are some previous posts on GMG documenting the schooner’s stay here in Gloucester.




6 thoughts on “Essex Built Schooner Finds Latest Home In Brooklyn

  1. Well, I’m sorry to say I’m one of the “jeers”. Working on a tug in the immediate vicinity has afforded me the opportunity to witness first hand the bastardization of this beautiful vessel. She has been stripped of virtually all her sailing gear and fitted with two horseshoe bars on deck. Below, the forepeak has been gutted and refit as a commercial kitchen. I am nearly certain she will never sail again.
    That having been said, I guess one can be “thankful” she has at least been saved from sinking at the dock. However,, you must wonder how carefully she will be maintained in the future with no focus on her actually being a boat.
    Having had the good fortune to have owned Roseway for many years and sailed her nearly 100,000 miles, I always loved telling the story to our guests that she was one of just three “Gloucester” schooners remaining in existence and still sailing. Of course, they were actually Essex schooners with all three having been built at the James Yard in the mid 1920″s.
    Considering, the time and skills it takes to build a similar vessel today, it is amazing to think all three vessels were built in less than 6 months each. The Pilot was built in 1924, Roseway in 1925, Adventure in 1926. All on a railway of sorts in a salt marsh using mostly hand tools. An amazing feat today, routine in those days.
    Finally, I get thoroughly disappointed when I hear of a new mega yacht being launched to the tune of multiple millions of dollars. Are there no philanthropic millionaires and billionaires who can see the historic value in restoring and maintaining vessels such as Pilot? Apparently not……Instead they must invest in “just another” mega yacht, soon to be outdated and forgotten. Just saying.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maybe it has to do with the ships that generous people have ALREADY funded and continue to fund just to keep afloat. There’s only so much philanthropic money to go around. You more than I know how much it costs to maintain a large old wooden boat, let alone keeping up with the paint, then there’s the dockage. There are people that have built new schooners that have invested their own dollars and have business plans to pay for these ships, like the Thomas E Lannon, and the Ardelle and the Fame. Should every old boat be “saved” I’m not sure where the money is supposed to come from and who is going to pay the ongoing maintenance and dockage to keep them afloat. Sometimes the retrofitting these boats into something that makes financial sense at least preserves the facades for others to at least see. Originally some of these old ships were fishing boats. Do you suppose that it was a bastardization and disappointment when the schooners were turned into boats taking passengers out and teaching them about the history of the ships instead of being fishing boats. The invention of diesel engines and sophisticated electronics made them inefficient as fishing boats in the modern world but they changed the use and some are still active.


      1. Well said Joey! My Uncle Leo fished on those fishing boats talked with aunt his ashes returned to the sea I hope when it’s time for me to move on mine will be too! Thanks Dave


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