one of the oldest surviving Friendship Sloops designed by Wilbur Morse

Friendship Sloop ‘Blackjack’ added to list of historic places

Mon, 11/09/2020 - 4:00pm

ROCKLAND — The Friendship Sloop Blackjack, owned and restored by the Sail, Power, and Steam Museum of Rockland, was recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The National Register of Historic Places is the Nation’s official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation, according to the Museum, in a news release. The Register is a program of the National Park Service but the Maine Historic Preservation Commission, a state governmental agency, oversees the administration of the Register program in Maine.

In the words of Ann Morris, former SPSM board member, curator of the Rockland Historical Society, and the person who initiated and oversaw the application process, “Blackjack is significant as a fine example of the Friendship Sloop type of sailing vessel designed by Maine boatbuilders specifically for fishing and lobstering along the Maine coast. And she is significant as one of the oldest surviving Friendship Sloops designed by Wilbur Morse, the most prolific builder of these vessels.”

Originally built in 1900, the 33-foot Blackjack was donated to the museum by owners who had come to realize that the restoration was a much bigger project than they had anticipated. Capt. Jim Sharp, founder and director of the museum commented at the time: “We rebuilt the vessel entirely. She had a broken keel, all the frames and planking were gone, and the sheer was lost. We replaced everything but the transom!”

Consulting with wooden boat experts such as Maynard Bray and boat builder Ralph Stanley on design and techniques that Morse might have employed at the time, a team of master builders that included Jim Loney, Tim Clark, and Garrett Eisele worked for countless hours with dedicated museum volunteers to complete the project, according to SPSM. Re-planked cedar the waterline and native pine above, the wood for the new frames came from a stand of English oak from Friendship. Sharp was quoted in an article in the Maine, Boats, Homes and Harbors Magazine as saying that the museum was “keeping her genes in the right place.”

Upon completion of the restoration, a grand celebration and launching was held on Saturday, July 7, 2018 at the site of the old Snow Shipyard, currently home to the museum as well as the city’s Snow Marine Park. With bagpipes and fiddlers playing the soundtrack for the day, Blackjack was moved from the museum’s boat shed by a team of oxen from Cox Kennel and Farm in Woodstock. Sharp noted that the boat may well have been launched in the same way over 100 year prior to that time, according to SPSM.

The Sail, Power, and Steam Museum is a 501(c)(3), non-profit, organization, dedicated to celebrating and preserving our maritime and industrial history, culture, and heritage. In addition to being the home of countless exhibits that chronical our history and vessels of historic significance, the museum is also home to the Midcoast Sailing Center which hosts a free sailing program for area and visiting youth during the summer.