New charter schooner opens for business in Belfast

By Dan West | May 16, 2014
The Henry Rusk

A new 50-foot wooden schooner will set sail out of Belfast this summer, beginning trips May 23.

The Henry Rusk will take up to six passengers on day trips onto Penobscot Bay and will do overnight trips to Warren Island. The boat will be available for private charter, and captain Garett Eisele says sunset and special night cruises may be available as well.

The boat is owned by O'Donavan and Dole Traditional Wooden Boatworks LLC, which operates a shop in Searsport. It was trucked from California to Maine in 2009 and restored by O'Donavan and Dole over the last few years. It is finally ready to accept customers this spring.

Henry Rusk will sail from Thompson's Wharf everyday throughout the summer, starting with two-hour trips for $45 per adult and $30 per child.

"It's a really good looking boat and she's really fun to sail," Eisele said. "There is so much to be excited about. I can't wait to get out and show people the bay."

Eisele says he has been working on tall ships around the country for the last seven years. He started working with wooden boats as a teenager while living in Detroit, building his first boat with his father when he was 14 years old.

He began volunteering on boats operating on Lake Michigan and has gone on the work on boats in the Caribbean, California and Alaska. Most recently he worked as a wilderness guide in Alaska over the winter. This will be Eisele's first time captaining a charter schooner on Penobscot Bay, but says he is enthusiastic about the region and the charter business.

Eisele said the Henry Rusk will distinguish itself from other charter schooners in the area because of the flexability it offers. Due to its smaller size and fewer passengers Eisele said each trip can be tailored to the customer's desire. Eisele said he is also open to ferry people and cargo to Islesboro saying, "We'll do anything!"

For more information on the Henry Rusk visit sailbelfastmaine.com.

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