Plumbing contractor volunteers from 11 Connecticut firms put the finishing touches on the Amistad.

At press time, 23 plumbing contractor volunteers from 11 Connecticut firms were putting the finishing touches on the Amistad, docked in Mystic Seaport, Conn.

The $3.1 million, 80-ft. schooner is a recreation of an historic ship that carried 53 kidnapped Africans to Connecticut's shores in 1839. The Africans, first held as slaves, eventually were freed, and many returned to their home country of Sierra Leone. The ship was to make its maiden voyage July 4, during the OpSail celebration in New York Harbor.

Walt Woycik, W.J. Woycik Plumbing and Heating, Mystic, Conn., coordinated the plumbing and heating work. Woycik is also the president of the Southeast Chapter of the Connecticut Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Contractors. Over approximately five weeks, Woycik's volunteer crew installed the ship's sinks, toilets and showers. The Amistad will carry 400 gallons of fresh water that will supply the plumbing system. To help conserve water, showers will be set at 30-second intervals.

Beyond the typical plumbing systems, another important aspect of the work was the installation of cooling lines. Designed to fill with seawater, the lines are essential to cool the ship's two 135-horsepower engines. Also, the contractors installed a bilge system to pump out water in case of a leak.

In addition to Woycik's firm, here's a list of the other local contractor companies who pitched in. As of the end of May, the contractors had supplied more than 560 hours of work:

  • Alpha Services

  • Appleby Plumbing

  • B&P Plumbing & Heating

  • Efficient Plumbing & Heating

  • Fernandez Plumbing

  • Hennessey Plumbing Services

  • Maus & Son Inc.

  • Michael Lombardi Plumbing & Heating

  • Rapid Service

  • Wm. A Murray Inc.

After the July 4 celebration, the Amistad will travel the nation's waterways as an "educational ambassador" to teach history.