Lecture/tours of the hull of the DeBraak return to Lewes starting May 25Monday tours to take place through October
After a successful inaugural season in 2012, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will again offer public lecture/tours of the hull of His Majesty’s Sloop DeBraak, a British warship that was escorting and protecting a convoy of British and American merchant ships en route to the United States when it was capsized and lost off the Delaware coast on May 25, 1798.
Lecture/tours are limited to 12 visitors per program and will begin with a special tour at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 25, the 215th anniversary of the sinking of the vessel. Regularly scheduled lecture/tours will then take place at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on the following Mondays during 2013: June 3, 17 and 24; July 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29; Aug. 5, 12, 19 and 26; Sept. 9, 16, 23 and 30; and Oct. 7 and 14.
All programs begin at the Zwaanendael Museum, located at 102 Kings Highway in Lewes, where a lecture on the ship will be presented in conjunction with A Seaborne Citizenry: The DeBraak and Its Atlantic World, an exhibit that has been on display at the museum since Dec. 1, 2012. The exhibit tells the story of the vessel, its crew and the historical context within which it operated in the late 18th century. Ticket holders will then be transported, via van, to the DeBraak hull facility in nearby Cape Henlopen State Park for a curator-led tour of the surviving section of the ship’s hull.
Nonrefundable tickets for the lecture/tours are $10 per person (restricted to persons aged 10 and above) and are available at shop.delaware.gov. For additional information call 302-645-1148.
The surviving section of the DeBraak’s hull and its associated artifact collection have been curated by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs since they were acquired by the state of Delaware in 1992.
One of the unique challenges in conserving the DeBraak’s hull is the very nature of its wooden components which were preserved for almost 200 years on the ocean floor by submersion in cold water and burial in sand. If these water-logged timbers were allowed to dry, their cellular structure would collapse causing them to break apart. Consequently, conservation efforts from the very start required that the hull be kept continually hydrated by spraying it with a fine misting of water.
Remedial actions that were completed in 2012 included the construction of an improved support-system to contain the hull and the addition of a water-filtration system to regularly clean the water used to keep it wet. The 2012 series of DeBraak lecture/tours was so well attended that the division has decided to renew them for the 2013 season. Due to the limited number of seats that are available for each lecture/tour, ticket purchases are encouraged well in advance.
The Zwaanendael Museum, as well as the curation of the DeBraak hull and its associated artifact collection, are administered by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, an agency of the state of Delaware. Primary funding for division programs and services is provided by annual appropriations from the Delaware General Assembly and grants from the National Park Service, a federal agency.