Today I received some potentially sad news from Norway… The replica of the Restauration is for sale.
Often referred to as the, “Norwegian Mayflower” of course this is a very important ship… not only to those of us who descend from the original, “Sloopers” who sailed from Stavanger to New York in 1825 but to all who descend from the 800,000 Norwegians who followed in the “Sloopers” wake and to all who have an interest in the great Norwegian-American immigration story.
A film documenting the story of Cleng Peerson is being planned in anticipation of the bicentennial celebration of the Sloopers landing in America and the ship was to play a key role in the film.
The listing, along with pictures and a description of the ship can be found at https://www.finn.no/boat/forsale/ad.html?finnkode=133598533
It really would be a tremendous loss if the Restauration were to be sold. Since her completion in 2010, the replica has been a tangible symbol of the great Norwegian emigration. Through a partnership with Ryfylke Livsgnist, the ship has been employed as a tool to teach both young and old about the 1825 Voyage of the Restauration, the story of the great Norwegian emigration to America, and the strong connections between Norway and America that were the result.
My family had the opportunity to sail on the ship in 2017. As a descendant of those who sailed aboard the original Restauration, this was one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. Words cannot describe the range of emotions as story-teller, Tolli Frestad described the stories of our ancestors voyage across the Atlantic. NRK did a short video of my family’s experience (see video below).
With the decision to sell the Restauration come many questions about the fate of this important piece of Norwegian-American history. It would truly be tragic if the ship were to leave Norway. Yet I t remains my hope that this crisis may be turned into an opportunity for people to recognize this important symbol of shared Norwegian-American history and that through this crisis the Restauration will be saved from an ignominious fate.
I know many of you have also had the opportunity to visit the Restauration in Stavanger. Please leave a reply to this post as we would love to hear about your experience and what this ship means to you and any ideas on how she might be saved for generations to come.
Med trist hilsen,
Kirk Mies (Rossadal)