Historic sailing schooner redocks at San Francisco maritime museum

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SAN FRANCISCO -- The historic sailing schooner C.A. Thayer was rechristened this morning at the San Francisco Maritime National Park [Hyde Street Pier], marking the completion of a $14 million, three-year rebuilding job on the 112-year-old vessel.

The Thayer is one of only two survivors of a fleet of hundreds of sailing vessels that carried lumber along the West Coast in the heyday of coastal shipping. Ships like the Thayer helped build San Francisco, Oakland and other California cities by bringing in the timber that built the region's famous Victorian houses.

The ships called at large ports, like San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles, as well as tiny landings on the Mendocino coast -- harbors called "dog hole ports," so small, the sailors said that a dog could hardly turn around in them.

The Thayer itself was built at Fairhaven, a small town near Eureka in Humboldt County. After years as a lumber ship and a later career as a cod fishing vessel in Alaska, the Thayer became a museum ship in 1957. The ship was designed to last only 20 years, and was well over a century old when a massive rebuilding job became necessary.

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