Instead, he jumped into a longboat, transferred his command to another American ship, and won a stunning victory, with the entire British fleet destroyed or captured.
The Saturday christening of a replica of the longboat in Sandusky likely won’t be as exciting, but it’s another event in the ongoing celebration of this region’s role in the War of 1812, leading up to the bicentennial celebration running from Aug. 28 to Sept. 10 at Put-in-Bay.
The new replica boat was commissioned and paid for by the Perry Group, the short name for the Friends of Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial. The group, formed in the 1980s, has hundreds of members who raise money to support the memorial.
Perry Group spokesman Peter Huston said all of the famous paintings of the battle show Perry in his longboat, transferring from the Lawrence, where most of his crew was killed or wounded, to the Niagara, which was still in good shape. The artists often take a couple of liberties.
“Every iconic view of the battle has this longboat, though I guarantee you, he wasn’t holding a flag or standing in the bow,” Huston said.
The cost of the boat was a little less than $30,000. There will be additional costs for maintenance and to equip it, he said.
John Riddle, of Riddle Boat Works, made the boat. The finishing touches — sanding, varnishing and painting — are being done now at the Maritime Museum of Sandusky, said Annette Wells, the museum’s director.
“It’s basically like a large rowboat,” she said. “It’s about 20 feet long.”
The boat will be christened and launched at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Shelby Street boat ramp just west of downtown Sandusky. The boat will then be rowed to the Paper District Marina, where everyone is invited to the museum’s boat show for classic boats.
After being christened, the longboat will divide its time between the Perry Monument and the Maritime Museum. During the summer it will be a star attraction at the visitor center at the Perry Memorial, when park rangers tell the story of the battle.
“They’ll have a physical boat that will be there as part of their storytelling,” Huston said.
After the memorial closes in the fall, the Perry longboat will spend the winter on display at the Maritime Museum.
“We have joint custody of it, so to speak,” Wells said.
Want to Go?
What: Christening and launch of Perry longboat and Maritime Museum of Sandusky Classic Boat Show
When and where: Perry boat christening, 10 a.m. Saturday, Shelby Street Boat Ramp. Boat show, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Paper District Marina.
Cost: Free. People exhibiting a classic boat will pay a modest fee of $10 to arrive by land on trailer, $20 to arrive on the water and dock at the marina. If using the marina, call the Paper District Marina at 419-626-2365.