Randy Biddle Answers More of Your Questions About the Brig Pilgrim

Here are more complete responses to queries I received during and after our joint session on Wednesday, April 22.
But before that, Jeff — may I greatly compliment you for the superb job of research, presentation preparation and delivery about PILGRIM II.
It was a privilege to share the stage with you.  And, in digging through my files once we got home this evening, I found a sizable folder on PILGRIM II.
It contains numerous newspaper clippings, and a SEA HISTORY article by Ray Wallace.  Next time I’m headed your way, I’ll bring it, and you are welcome to scan or copy anything of interest to you (or DPHS).
Please excuse me, but my hearing in a crowded setting is challenged, so I did not capture or retain the names of people who asked me about the following list.
Maybe if you put this in your email blast they will recognize themselves.  I will be happy to receive further queries from individuals.
Everyone was generous with their compliments about our shared presentation, and it’s a pleasure to continue to engage with each.
How Many Hides Did PILGRIM Carry?
From information – in Spanish, at the Bancroft Library, we know that on one voyage in 1837 (probably on her return to Boston under Bryant, Sturgis & Company, after which she was sold, PILGRIM carried:
11,609 Hides
12,061 Horns
25-28 (estimated) Botas (bags) of Tallow
In TYBTM, the 40,000 hide figure is a reference to ALERT, a much larger vessel, as a three-mast full-rigged ship; and to which PILGRIM while on the coast, was essentially a tender to ALERT.
Tonnage – as shown on the Register documents
It is a common misconception that Tonnage refers to the weight of the vessel.  I was asked, “How could they possibly weigh the vessel?”
They didn’t.  Tonnage is a measure of carrying capacity.  In very coarse terms, think of the cubic feet of usable storage space for cargo within the hull.
The Length, Breadth, and Depth on the Register were the only three factors in calculating Tonnage, in the formula in vogue at the time (it changed many times before and after that time)
In that formula, the Depth value, is arbitrarily taken as 1/2 the Breadth.  Some vessel’s actual Depth may be shorter, but more likely deeper.
For PILGRIM, Ray Aker and I – independent of one another arrived at a Depth value very close to one another.  I did it the same way Tom Harris, Dana’s shipmate did, by estimating the space required for a cattle hide, for horns, and for a bota of tallow, then applying those factors to the counts above (11,069 Hides, etc.).  The resulting cubic feet needed to be accommodated by that part inside the hull where cargo could be stored.  In order to make that work, we found out that the actual Depth was greater than 1/2 the Breadth.  The hull of the model by C.F Spillane is too shallow because he accepted the Depth value on the Register.  We did not do a similar comparison for the J. Porter Shaw interpretation of PILGRIM, but I think the hull form is closer to PILGRIM whether by design or accident.
Dr. Brown’s model of PILGRIM
As mentioned to Barbara earlier, I was mistaken in saying that this model is built to Ray Aker’s plans.  It was built to those by J. Porter Shaw – at least insofar as the deck layout.  Again, in digging into old files I found notes of my correspondence with Bill Brown, c. 1999, which say “SHAW” on them.  Nevertheless, it is a very finely crafted example of the ship model maker’s art.
A future model of PILGRIM
With your invitation enabling me to get back to my decades old research files, I now conclude that were I to model PILGRIM, or advise another as they do so, that the Aker drawings would be my point of departure, primarily because they are based on the 1830 Fibberti watercolor, but…just as Ray, or Bill would do, I would make further alterations; details too numerous to mention here.
Accounts of the Loss of PILGRIM
One gentleman in the audience mentioned she burned, etc in the Caribbean.  We had a subsequent conversation, and it seems that he may have read a placard that accompanies the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum model of PILGRIM.  There were errors in that placard, and in 2007 I submitted a correction, but I don’t believe it has ever been revised.  Their model, although also very fine and made by one of the famous Hitchcock family of ship model makers (now deceased) is based on plans for the US brig WASHINGTON, 1837.  Her hull form shows the evolution of just a few short years (and her design intent of a fast warship), and she is far too sharp for a typical merchant brig like PILGRIM.
SBMM “Currents” newsletter
My article of some years ago in this publication from Santa Barbara is a good summary of last evening’s presentation.  Perhaps they will allow it to be reproduced for distribution to DPHS members.
It could be useful for docents as well.
Ballast Stones – and their use in following patterns of seaborne commerce
This is a fascinating topic, about which I know less than I would like.  I’m checking with other colleagues, but in the meantime, here is a link to a paper, and a PDF on the topic.
Basically, as one of your members shared with me, when a vessel changes her cargo, her ballast is often removed (or just shifted), and often the ballast stones are left, and others loaded anew.
“Ballast Point” in San Diego is a place where such activity was conducted.  By geological/mineralogical examination of the stones, one can get some idea of maritime trade routes through the ages by tying the type of stone to the locales on the globe where they are principally found.
A book about PILGRIM?
I find, again by pouring through dozens of my files, that I certainly have enough for a small book about PILGRIM.  However, the economics these days do not favor the publication of something with such an admittedly narrow potential audience.
Let me know your member’s reactions to the above, and if other question surface, give me a shout.
Hope to see you again, sooner rather than later.
Randle M Biddle, Owner

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