A friend asked me to help put the word out for a hands-on memorial for Dennis Holland on Sept. 12, 2014.
For those unfamiliar with The Pilgrim and Dennis Holland (who passed away a few months ago), he was a local resident who spent 12 years building a sailing ship, the Pilgrim of Newport, in his front yard.
Over the years in Newport Harbor, as in other harbors throughout the world, it is customary for local boaters to greet visiting yachts and yachtsmen of special recognition at the entrance of their harbor to accompany the visiting dignitaries to their guest berths.
We’ve performed this function for the return of local families who have cruised around the world in their boat and Navy ships who have docked locally for inspections and tours. The largest I can recall is greeting the Queen Mary where she changed course to get close to our jetty entrance and saluted a hundred or more of us boaters on their final voyage to the Long Beach Harbor resting place.
On the morning of Sept. 12, the former Pilgrim of Newport, (now Pride of Dana Point), will greet locals at the jetty entrance and cruise through the harbor to the Newport Sea Base, where there will be a free event Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday featuring a maritime nautical village, pirates, model ships, and entertainment.
Dennis also collected some antique cars which will be at the Sea Base. He and family members raced them across the U.S. in the Great American Car Race years ago.
Our family has a history with Dennis. When the Pilgrim was about 50 percent complete and sitting in front of his house on Santa Ana Avenue, my Dad commissioned him to restore a 16-foot (or so) wooden rowing vessel from the Swift.
The Swift berthed on a mooring off Bayshores for more than 35 years. This pirate ship was made by Bayshore residents James Cagney (of movie fame) and his brother, Bill, as a movie prop.
The large rower was a shore boat for eight to ten adults to row ashore from the Swift. When Bill Cagney gave it to Dad I was present. Bill stated the hull was a smaller replica of a famous fast clipper ship. This design allowed two rowers to move along at a pretty quick pace.
Following the restoration, my Mom and Dad and their friends rowed the entire perimeter of the bay one year in the Character Boat Parade. We were very impressed with their fortitude, and if I recall correctly, the grog they had aboard was of some aide.
I don’t recall the details but following that trip and other rowing adventures, my Dad gave the rower to Dennis to have on the Pilgrim. I don’t know if it was ever part of the Pilgrim because I don’t ever recall seeing it aboard.
Building the Pilgrim is a major accomplishment and I urge all boaters to meet and greet her Sept. 12.