Left Bank Books, 21 East Main St./Route 1, Searsport, will launch its second annual series of informal Sunday afternoon talks Feb. 7 at 3:30 p.m. with a talk by Brendan McAvoy of Belfast, Chief Mate of Maine Maritime Academy’s T/S State of Maine.

The programs are a revival of the historic lyceum tradition that was popular in Belfast and other parts of the country throughout the 1800s. Six different programs will be held at the book shop selected Sundays through April 25, all free and open to the public.

According to Belfast Historical Society President Megan Pinette, the lyceum program of 19th-century Belfast had as its goal “the diffusion of useful knowledge” and featured such local and nationally-known speakers as Joshua Chamberlain talking about the Battle of Gettysburg and Frederick Douglass speaking about his “Reminiscences of Slavery.”

McAvoy’s talk, titled Change of Command: An Account of the Unexpected, will recount his experiences on the training ship State of Maine’s summer training voyage in 2007 when the captain unexpectedly became critically ill. The ship was underway from Gibraltar to the Ukraine at the time, with 275 midshipmen and crew aboard and three more ports to visit before returning to Castine.

As the severity of the captain’s symptoms made it clear that his ability to command was compromised, it fell to McAvoy as First Officer to take command of the ship, establish emergency medical communications and reroute the vessel to get the stricken captain to medical care ashore — an unexpected “field promotion” under the most difficult circumstances imaginable.

McAvoy lives in Belfast with his wife Suzette and daughter Elizabeth and has been Chief Mate on the T/S State of Maine since 1997. He is a graduate of the State University of New York Maritime College and has a master’s degree in marine affairs from the University of Rhode Island.

Other dates and speakers in the Winter Lyceum series are: Feb. 21, Jeannine Lauber, journalist and author of “Chosen Faith, Chosen Land: The Untold Story of America’s 21st Century Shakers”; March 7, Patricia Worth, Maine District Court Judge; March 21, George Holmes, DVM, of Little River Veterinary Hospital; April 11, David Carlson of Marshall Wharf Brewing Company; and April 25, Mike Shannon, naturalist and Registered Maine Guide.

All of the talks will be informal, with ample time for questions and discussion at the end as well as some warming refreshments. There is no charge for the series, and the entire community is invited to attend all six of the programs or just a few.

For more information, call Left Bank Books at 548-6400. The shop is open daily.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to dernest@villagesoup.com.