Maine’s schooner ‘Bowdoin’ undergoing hull restoration at Bristol Marine, in Boothbay Harbor

Posted:  Thursday, December 20, 2018 - 4:45pm
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Maine Maritime Academy’s schooner Bowdoin, the Official Vessel of the State of Maine and a National Historic Landmark, is undergoing hull restoration at Bristol Marine, the Shipyard in Boothbay Harbor. The project requires refurbishment below the water line of 18 planks identified for replacement in a marine survey conducted by GF Full and Associates.

“Our goal is to maintain the boat to the highest standard, to go above and beyond, in order to preserve this living piece of history,” said MMA Marine Operations Manager Dana Willis, in a news release. “At this early stage of restoration, we are pleased to see that the vessel is in good condition, which attests to the excellent workmanship and care Bowdoin has received over her lifetime.”

The Boothbay shipyard won a state bid to refurbish the schooner’s bottom planking. The Bowdoin arrived in Boothbay Harbor Nov. 24.  Once the planks are removed, shipyard workers will fully examine the schooner’s condition.

“The big challenge is the unknown,” said Project Manager Ross Branch, in a Boothbay Register interview. “We’re removing the 18 planks, but you don’t know what we’ll find until they come off.”

Work is expected to be completed in time for the summer sailing season. When the project is complete, the ship will again be home to groups of students in sail training courses within the Vessel Operations and Technology major at Maine Maritime Academy. Students sail coastwise and offshore in summer, learning to navigate and maintain the vessel to fulfill degree requirements and competencies toward a U.S. Coast Guard limited license.

Bowdoin joins the Ernestina-Morrissey, also known for its role in Arctic exploration and research, at The Shipyard this winter. The historic schooner, sometimes referred to as Bowdoin’s “Arctic sister” is undergoing a restoration of her hull and deck for the State of Massachusetts.

"We are excited to welcome the Bowdoin Back to Boothbay Harbor where she was launched by Hodgdon Brothers nearly 100 years ago," said Ross Branch, Director of Director of Operations, Bristol Marine, the Shipyard in Boothbay Harbor.

To follow the Bowdoin hull restoration project, visit the project blog: mainemaritime.edu/waterfront/schooner-bowdoin/hull-restoration-project/

Maine Maritime Academy is the only college in the United States with a dedicated sail training program that leads to a U.S. Coast Guard license as mate on an auxiliary sail vessel. Students may start with no prior sailing experience and graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree, a U.S. Coast Guard license, and all necessary certificates.

To follow the adventures of the schooner Bowdoin throughout the summer, visit bowdoincruise.mma.edu or follow the cruise on Facebook at Arctic Schooner Bowdoin.

Bowdoin’s Captain, William McLean, earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Vessel Operations and Technology with a Sail Training Concentration, graduating in 2012 from Maine Maritime Academy. He came back to Castine in the spring of 2017 following a winter sail schedule with Call of the Sea, an educational nonprofit dedicated to environmental education through sailing. There, he was Captain of the schooner Seaward, an 82-foot classic staysail schooner, conducting six-day charters in the Sea of Cortez. Previous to working with Call of the Sea, he was Senior Chief Mate/Relief Captain on the SSV Robert C. Seamans with Sea Education Association for three years.

The schooner Bowdoin enjoys a long history of seafaring education and Arctic exploration. Commissioned by explorer Donald B. MacMillan to facilitate his work in the high northern latitudes, Bowdoin has made 28 trips to the Arctic, 25 of them before 1954 under the command of MacMillan. MacMillan sold Bowdoin to the U.S. Navy for use in World War II during the Greenland Patrol. After WWII, MacMillan bought the ship back and continued to sail her for nine more years around Greenland. After MacMillan’s retirement the boat belonged to the Schooner Bowdoin Association until 1988 when Maine Maritime Academy purchased the vessel for the purpose of training students. It was at this time that Bowdoin became the Official Vessel of the State of Maine and was designated a National Historic Landmark.

Maine Maritime Academy is a co-educational, public college on the coast of Maine offering programs of study in engineering, management, science, and transportation. The college serves approximately 950 undergraduate and graduate students in career-oriented degree programs. The job placement rate for MMA graduates exceeds 90 percent within 90 days of graduation. The college is consistently recognized for providing a high-value education by organizations such as the Brookings Institution, Money Magazine and U.S. News and World Report. For more information, visit mainemaritime.edu.

Bristol Marine, The Shipyard In Boothbay Harbor continues to build on its 150-year history of wooden boat construction, specializing in traditional double-sawn frame restorations, as well as new builds. The Bowdoin, while at the Shipyard, reunites with her Arctic sister the Ernestina Morrissey, midway through a complete restoration.