Monday, February 15, 2010


From Gloucester Daily Times: Wednesday, January 15, 1908
MADE A FINE PASSAGE: Sch. Clintonia Here This Morning with Frozen Herring

Capt. James Vanamberg is entitled to wear the medal as the hustler from Newfoundland. Generally he has been in sch. Henry M. Stanley, and in that remarkable craft has made passages which has made the eyes of the old stick out with wonder. This trip he went in sch. Clintonia, one of the finest ever built, and when he started for home last Thursday forenoon, he meant to come flying and he did, for last evening at 7 o’clock he tied his craft up at the wharf of Orlando Merchant, in this harbor.
When the Clintonia started, about 30 others hoisted their mainsails together and all started off at the same time. The long legged craft began to dig right in from the start and that Capt “Jimmie” lost no time is shown by the fact that he was here last night and as yet nothing has put in appearance.
Capt. Vanamberg reports that about 30 sail of vessels, American and Nova Scotian, left together on Thursday forenoon, sch. Arkona being the first to get underway, followed by sch. Saladin off Canso, N.S. and since then had seen none of the herring fleet.
Up on the corner, when the boys heard that sch. Clintonia was in, they simply remarked, “Well, Jimmie always could do it,” and that meant a lot. As for Skipper Vanamberg himself, he wears the same sized hat that he always did and outside of being pleased to get home, there’s nothing to it with him.

JAMES FORMAN VANAMBURG: b 23 Oct 1876; d 27 Mar 1949 Clarks Harbor, Cape Sable Island, Nova Scotia. He married at Clarks Harbor on 27 Jan 1904
MAE ESTELLE NICKERSON: b 1877; d May 1965.
He was a sea captain, commanding among others, the schooners Elizabeth Howard, Clintonia, Henry & Stanley, Esperantos, Gladys Thurber. He was known as the heaviest sail carrier out of Gloucester, it was said that his ship could be spotted by spars splintered, boom cracked, sails ragged. One of the few skippers to strike on Cape Sable and get off again. At one time he was washed overboard in a storm and the next wave put him back on the ship again. He never lost a ship. [dark hair, later snow white, blue eyes, 5’10”]

My beloved grandfather - I called him Pampa. A quiet, gentle man at home he was NOT when at sea. He and Nana Van were with us on Whitney Rd for a time, and he would come in from sea, open his bag, and put a very large live lobster on the kitchen floor in front of me. I would scream, jump, and run, laughing at the same time. He never learned to drive a car - my Dad once tried to teach him with questionable results - he ran up against a tree in the neighbors yard.