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Mon Lei; Chinese Junk


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#1 Soundbounder

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 01:00 PM

Are any of you familiar with the Mon Lei?
The original is a 19th century boat that was once owned by Robert Ripley (Believe It Or Not).
I saw this recently in Norwalk CT and don't know if she is a replica or the real thing.
Any help would be appreciated.

http://soundbounder....04/mon-lei.html

#2 Soundbounder

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 01:03 PM

Posted Image

#3 Remodel

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 04:30 PM

Are any of you familiar with the Mon Lei?
The original is a 19th century boat that was once owned by Robert Ripley (Believe It Or Not).
I saw this recently in Norwalk CT and don't know if she is a replica or the real thing.
Any help would be appreciated.

http://soundbounder....04/mon-lei.html



I believe this is the boat once owned by Ripley, but she is not a 19th century vessel. It is my understanding that she was built in 1930 as a yacht.

#4 Tonto Tarzan Frankenstein

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 04:48 PM

Are any of you familiar with the Mon Lei?
The original is a 19th century...


No, but Frankenstein familiar with 19th century Lon Chaney and son. Believe it or not.
Frankie

#5 dopo

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 05:08 PM

The guy who owned it used to keep it by the Intrepid and would have awesome parties on it.

#6 Soundbounder

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 06:29 PM

Are any of you familiar with the Mon Lei?
The original is a 19th century boat that was once owned by Robert Ripley (Believe It Or Not).
I saw this recently in Norwalk CT and don't know if she is a replica or the real thing.
Any help would be appreciated.

http://soundbounder....04/mon-lei.html



I believe this is the boat once owned by Ripley, but she is not a 19th century vessel. It is my understanding that she was built in 1930 as a yacht.

Yeah there are conflicting stories about whether Ripley built the boat or rebuilt an existing boat

#7 Remodel

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 08:06 PM

Are any of you familiar with the Mon Lei?
The original is a 19th century boat that was once owned by Robert Ripley (Believe It Or Not).
I saw this recently in Norwalk CT and don't know if she is a replica or the real thing.
Any help would be appreciated.

http://soundbounder....04/mon-lei.html



I believe this is the boat once owned by Ripley, but she is not a 19th century vessel. It is my understanding that she was built in 1930 as a yacht.

Yeah there are conflicting stories about whether Ripley built the boat or rebuilt an existing boat


There is this article from 1947. http://news.google.c...pg=5776,6833418

#8 Soundbounder

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 08:20 PM

Are any of you familiar with the Mon Lei?
The original is a 19th century boat that was once owned by Robert Ripley (Believe It Or Not).
I saw this recently in Norwalk CT and don't know if she is a replica or the real thing.
Any help would be appreciated.

http://soundbounder....04/mon-lei.html



I believe this is the boat once owned by Ripley, but she is not a 19th century vessel. It is my understanding that she was built in 1930 as a yacht.

Yeah there are conflicting stories about whether Ripley built the boat or rebuilt an existing boat


There is this article from 1947. http://news.google.c...pg=5776,6833418


Thanks!!!
I have seen stories stating she was built anywhere between 1850 and 1930.
This story from 1960 says she was built in 1890.

http://news.google.c...pg=1152,1592741

#9 Rail Meat

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 08:29 PM

There is a lot of conflicting information on the history of this boat... probably because Riply is dead and the current owner (or at lease recently current owner) seems to be prone to weaving a good yarn. Here is what I know.

  • Dates for the boat's construction range from 1854 (sourced from a 1973 news paper article where the then professional captain claimed it was "119 years old") to 1920. No source that I was able to find put her build date at any thing younger than 1920. None of the sources sound any more or less authoritative than the last, but based on the other news paper comments about the captain who said she was "119 years old", I would give his account the least credance.
  • One source indicated that she was built in Aberdeen, near Hong Kong
  • The boat is 50 foot, with 3 masts, 2 cabins, a galley and a bar.
  • In 1937 the boat was sold to "5 Englishmen", unidentified by name. They sailed her from Hong Kong to San Francisco for the 1939 Worlds Fair, taking 83 days to get there.
  • At some point between 1939 and 1946, Robert Ripley bought the boat and renamed her "Mon Lei", meaning "Infinity". He used her for promotional junkets and relaxation, keeping her on the east coast and making as far south as Florida and as far north as New York.
  • Ripley died in 1948 or so. At some point after his death, the boat transfered ownership to Mystic Seaport.
  • In 1954, Alen Sands York buys the boat from Mystic Seaport. Sands is apparently a flamboyent raconteur, working in advertising and living a lifestyle akin to that which you would see on Mad Men. The boat becomes part party barge and part advertising prop for his business.
  • In 1959, the boat is leased by North West Airlines for a promotional junket to advertise NWA's Asian routes. According to an article from time, the boat was in pretty bad shape and required a substantial refit. She is sailed up and down the coast as part of that junket.
  • The next mention I can find of her is in 1974, when Sands apparently lent the boat to a friend / client who had her in Florida. The friend also sounds like quite the booze hound / play boy and the Mon Lei seems to have done service as his stabbin cabin, taking a break from serving as Sands' stabbin cabin.
  • I can find mention of Sands still owning the boat in 2002, and it still being on the NYC waterfront. I don't have any mention after that date.


That is all I have got.

Edit: it also looks like Sands got into home furnishings and textiles after leaving advertising, and he named a furnising line after the boat.

#10 Soundbounder

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 08:45 PM

Rail Meat comes through once again!!!
Thanks!!!
If Alen Sands York is known to tell some tall tales, that explains a lot of the confusion.
I have found articles from the 1970's, 80's, and 2002 where he states that the boat is from the 1850's.
(or he says the boat is 140 years old etc). I don't know if he is still alive or owns the boat, but he was involved with importing textiles from Asia earlier this decade.

The part that also confuses me is Mystic Seaport.
I figured if they owned it, her story would be better documented.
When I first read that somewhere, I just assumed it wasn't true.
I figured it probably just spent some time in Mystic, and the story got exagerated.


I really appreciate your input.

#11 Rail Meat

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 09:07 PM

Yeah, hard to tell what is fact and what is fiction. I find it highly unprobably that a boat from 1855 is still floating, given the some what hard life she seems to have lived.

The articles that indicated the build date as being 1920 were actually about Robert Ripley, with no reference to Alen Sands. Which leads me to believe that they were sourced directly from Ripley. As he was the preceding owner, I would suspect that his data would be more accurate than Sands data. But Ripley was also known for tales that beggard belief.

No matter what the truth, she has undisputedly led an interesting life and is well worth for discussions on the pages of Sailing Anarchy. In fact, she could very well qualify as the flag ship in the Anarchy Armada. If I had more money than sense I would buy her just to be able to add to her history.

#12 Soundbounder

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Posted 20 April 2010 - 11:32 AM

Alen Sands York has said that the boat had a major rebuild in the 1920's or 1930's.
Engines were added etc.
Now that I know the info you have mentioned, the 1920's seems most likely the era she was built.

#13 Soundbounder

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Posted 20 April 2010 - 08:17 PM

Someone sent me this, but they didn't mention where it came from:

Vessel Name: MON LEI USCG Doc. No.: 238739 Vessel Service: RECREATIONAL IMO Number: * Trade Indicator: Recreational Call Sign: WA8380 Hull Material: WOOD Hull Number: * Ship Builder: * Year Built: 1939

Length (ft.): 45.2 Hailing Port: NEW YORK NY Hull Depth (ft.): 6.4 Owner: CHESAPEAKE BAY & CHINA SEA TOWING
CO. INC. 414 EAST 52ND STREET PENTHOUSE A
NEW YORK, NY 10022 Hull Breadth (ft.): 16.5 Gross Tonnage: 36 Net Tonnage: 33 Documentation Issuance Date: September 16, 2009 Documentation Expiration Date: October 31, 2010 Previous Vessel Names: No Vessel Name Changes Previous Vessel Owners: No Vessel Owner Changes

#14 Horatio Hornblower

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Posted 20 April 2010 - 09:25 PM

Bloody hell, I've seen this ship before! Back around 1815 or so, I want to say, we ran across this bloody ugly motherfucker of a vessel down around the Galaps, while we were searchin' for some pussy and some cacti. Bloody chinks couldn't sail if their lives depended on it, so there they were, up aground in the middle of some cove, screamin' glibberish because all the boobies and turtles were swarmin' them; probably because they knew there was fresh meat abroad. Poor tortoises, no chicken or beef onboard, just cat!



#15 Soundbounder

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Posted 20 April 2010 - 10:36 PM

It looks like he got it here:

http://www.st.nmfs.n...essel_name_list

#16 Soundbounder

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Posted 21 April 2010 - 03:31 PM

Bloody hell, I've seen this ship before! Back around 1815 or so, I want to say, we ran across this bloody ugly motherfucker of a vessel down around the Galaps, while we were searchin' for some pussy and some cacti. Bloody chinks couldn't sail if their lives depended on it, so there they were, up aground in the middle of some cove, screamin' glibberish because all the boobies and turtles were swarmin' them; probably because they knew there was fresh meat abroad. Poor tortoises, no chicken or beef onboard, just cat!



Well I guess I can't argue with an eye witness.