Victory Chimes, 1986

There’s a story in Thursday’s News Tribune about the Victory Chimes, a tall ship that for a few months called Duluth home – before financial and logistical difficulties resulted in the ship being repossessed by the bank, auctioned off and eventually sold to a buyer who moved it out of town (the buyer was Domino’s Pizza, but we’ll get to that later on).

In any case, I thought it would be a good chance to take a look at some photos of the Victory Chimes’ stay in Duluth. We’ll start with this Oct. 21, 1986, article about Denfeld physics students’ trip aboard the vessel:

The Victory Chimes sets sail from its Duluth berth with its Denfeld physics class passengers on Oct. 20, 1986. (Photos by John Rott / News-Tribune & Herald)

Denfeld physics students steer new course on Victory Chimes

By Linda Hanson, News-Tribune & Herald

For most people, the three-masted schooner Victory Chimes brings to mind romantic visions of life at sea – not physics.

But for 100 Denfeld High School students, the 86-year-old ship was their physics classroom for two hours Monday.

"Physics is not just in a book," said Denfeld physics teacher Ed Felien. "Physics is in everything you do. We try to illustrate that whenever we can."

As part of their physics classwork, students learn how to navigate with a compass, said Polly Hanson, a student teacher who arranged the field trip. Hanson, 21, is a senior at the College of St. Scholastica.

For example, the students must learn how to calculate how wind and currents affect the course of a ship, Hanson said.

Hanson thought it would be good for students to see firsthand how navigation works.

"In class, we’re working on vectors – those are directions on a compass," said Tim Sisto, 17, a senior.

"If you’re off on your vectors, you’re lost," added Mike Vukonich, 17, a senior.

There were no formal lessons on the ship, but students were encouraged to ask the crew questions.

Debbie Shepard, 16, said she learned three nautical superstitions from a crew member.

"Never whistle on a ship. That’s because they used to do commands by whistles and it would be confusing if someone was whistling," she said. "Also, women are bad luck and they don’t belong on a ship. And never change the name of a ship."

Debbie said a crew member explained that the ship use to be called the Edwin and Maud, but the name was changed to the Victory Chimes after World War II.

The ship’s two auxiliary engines, which are used for raising the sails and anchors, were named Edwin and Maud because of the superstition, she said.

Crew member Carol Bresser steers the Victory Chimes through the harbor while answering the questions of physics students.

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Several students gathered in the captain’s quarters to hear a crew member explain the workings of the ship’s computerized navigational system called Loran C. The sailor explained how the system uses radio signals to determine the ship’s position.

"The signals form a hyperbola," he said.

"That sounds like calculus," one student moaned. "I hate calculus."

THis was the first trip on the Victory Chimes for most of the students, but it was the last outing of the season for the schooner and crew. The ship will spend the winter in the Minnesota Slip and will re-enter service next spring, said Capt. Sandy Clark.

While the ship made its final loop around the Duluth harbor in the balmy October air, not everyone’s mind was on physics. Some students visited with friends, while others talked about what it would be like to go for a long voyage on the Victory Chimes.

Danice Klimek, 15, leaned back on the rail and smiled, the sun glinting off her purple sunglasses.

"I’d love it," she said about going on a long voyage. "It’d be just me and nature."

Pat Smith, 17, thought a long trip would get old fast because you’d be cooped up with the same people for too long.

Danice said, "If I got riled up, I’d just go out and look at the stars. That always calms me down."

Denfeld juniors Wendy Whelihan, 17, Carolyn Flaim, 16, Jennifer Forstrom, 16, Terri Panyan, 16, and Dawn Sobczak, 16, drink soda and talk during their physics class cruise on the schooner Victory Chimes.

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Stepping back a bit, the Victory Chimes’ move to Duluth was discussed for some time before it actually happened. According to news accounts, architect Ted Rosenthal of Carlton first tried to buy and bring the ship here from Maine in 1976, but that effort fell through. Plans were revived in summer and fall 1985, with Rosenthal – joined by Duluthian Jerry Jubie, then president of First State Bank of Floodwood – bought the vessel for about $1 million.

The ship was battered by storms in early 1986 while still in Florida and on the East Coast. It finally arrived in Duluth on Aug. 29, 1986, greeted by a crowd estimated at 2,000 people:

The Victory Chimes, accompanied by a welcoming flotilla, makes her way under the Aerial Lift Bridge on Aug. 29, 1986. (John Rott / News-Tribune & Herald)

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Crowds line the North Pier to watch the arrival of the Victory Chimes in Duluth on Aug. 29, 1986. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune & Herald)

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Things took a turn for the worse rather quickly. By December 1986, Jubie (not sure where Rosenthal went to – he’s not mentioned) told the News-Tribune & Herald that he was putting the Victory Chimes up for sale because the cities of Duluth and Superior had not provided enough support (city officials disputed that claim).

In April 1987, Norwest Bank foreclosed on a $650,000 mortgage on the schooner. It was the subject of a public auction in July 1987, at which the bank formally purchased the Victory Chimes. Tha bank moved the Victory Chimes to Maryland; with its masts taken down and strapped to its decks, the old schooner was towed out of Duluth for the last time on Sept. 22, 1987:

Towed by the Norfolk Rebel, the schooner Victory Chimes leaves Duluth on its way to the East Coast on Sept. 22, 1987. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune & Herald)

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The Victory Chimes is towed out of the Duluth harbor. (Dave Ballard / News-Tribune & Herald)

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In January 1988, Norwest Bank sold the boat to Domino’s Pizza Inc. for an undisclosed price. The owner of Domino’s, Tom Monaghan, planned to bring the boat to his resort on Drummond Island in northern Lake Huron, at the far eastern tip of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

The company refurbished the Victory Chimes and renamed it the Domino Effect, but that effort also ran into troubles. Efforts to dredge a harbor on Drummond Island to house the schooner drew environmental criticism that stalled the project. In addition, the schooner’s mast collapsed during repairs while on the East Coast, killing a crewman.

In October 1989, Domino’s announced it was putting the Domino Effect up for sale. At some point after that, the ship was brought back to Maine and renamed the Victory Chimes, and continues to offer trips along the coast – here’s the ship’s website.

The ship’s lasting legacy in Duluth is a stylized version of its silhouette, which was incorporated into a ubiquitous city logo still seen today, as shown in this News Tribune photo:

If memory serves correctly, the logo even appears on the facade of the I-35 tunnels east of downtown.

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So there, in a nutshell, is the story of the Victory Chimes in Duluth. Share your memories of the ship by posting a comment.

- Andrew Krueger

5 thoughts on “Victory Chimes, 1986

  1. The vessel is now in Maine doing what she did for so many years. Carry passengers along the coast of Maine. She is now a National Historic Landmark, Featured on the State of maine Quarter issued in 2003. Duluth is part of her history. When your in Maine come by for a visit or a sail. Or just visit us at victorychimes.com

    Capt Kip Files

  2. Great story! I always thought the ship picture on the tunnel was supposed to be the Viking ship replica. I could be absolutely wrong but that’s always what I have heard. Since the tunnel with the picture is near Leif Erickson park, that always made sense to me.

  3. I moved from Milwaukee in 1984, so I never got to see the Victory Chimes in Duluth. I do remember Jerry Jubie, though. He was always a big thinker, as demonstrated by this attempt to make Duluth home to a tall ship.

  4. Here’s a few other tidbits about the ship:

    The ship was built in 1900 at Bethel, Delaware with the purpose of carrying lumber in the Chesapeake Bay area.

    Just about everyone has had the Victory Chimes ship in their pockets at one time or another since it is featured on the 2003 Maine State Quarter. Over 500 million of the quarters with the ship were put out by the U.S. Mint.

    In 1997, the U.S. Department of Interior recognized the boat as a national historic landmark.

    The boat’s departure from Duluth in 1987 made national news including USA Today.

    In 1986, burglars stole nearly $1000 worth of stuff from the ship while it was docked in Duluth.

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