November / December 2023

No More to Sea

The Pincus brothers’ growing fleet of restaurant vessels
The SHERMAN ZWICKER moored at Pier 25.

TOM JACKSON

The SHERMAN ZWICKER is permanently moored at Pier 25 in Manhattan’s Hudson River Park, which is reserved for historic vessels; she leaves her berth only for maintenance and only under tow. Her wheelhouse is original, since the schooner was built for diesel power with sail assist, but the structure has been raised to make it more functional.

Ships are safe in harbor, but that is not what ships are built for, as the saying goes. But at the time that aphorism was first published—in 1928 by John A. Shedd—wooden ships at the end of their 20 or so years of expected profitability were routinely abandoned at city docks or driven ashore to decay in remote coves. That any of them at all survived into the first half of the 21st century is remarkable. More than a few survive today by staying safe in harbor regardless of what they were built for. And for two brothers in New York City, that means repurposing them as floating restaurants.

When Alex and Miles Pincus had a historic schooner, PILOT, hauled out at Mystic Seaport Museum’s shipyard for hull work in late 2019, I learned that they were restaurateurs using her as a permanently moored waterfront restaurant in Brooklyn. She was their second such vessel; their first was the Grand Banks fishing schooner SHERMAN ZWICKER, which was converted to a restaurant in Manhattan in 2014.

In 2022, the brothers made news by buying the spectacular 133' LOA Gilded Age schooner-yacht CORONET, whose restoration was a long and halting work-in-progress in Newport, Rhode Island. The staff from their company, called Crew, worked furiously, with caulking and other help from Mystic Seaport’s shipwrights, to get the schooner ready enough to launch for a tow in December to the museum’s shipyard, where she now lies and where her restoration—this one not for a restaurant but to sailing condition—is expected to be completed, largely by contractors, over the course of a few years or more.

Not five months later, the three-masted schooner VICTORY CHIMES sold at a bank auction for $75,900, ending a career of carrying passengers along the Maine coast that started in the 1950s. She was the largest of the fleet of schooners in the Maine Windjammer Association, which has played a key role in the survival of many vintage schooners. The winning bid came from none other than the Pincus brothers.

To read the rest of this article, purchase Issue No. 295 from the WoodenBoat store with the link below.

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