Notes from the Belfast waterfront

Lincolnville man, roly-poly boat feel pull of magnetic north

By Ethan Andrews | May 10, 2017
Photo by: Ethan Andrews Little Bear, Jens Ostergaard's 1964 replica of a North Sea trawler, at Thompson's Wharf May 4.

Belfast — Little Bear spent the winter at Thompson's Wharf. The ketch-rigged replica of a North Sea trawler was named after the constellation Ursa Minor, in which the North Star resides, according to owner Jens Ostergaard, who was on the docks May 4.

"Also, it's like a polar bear child," he said. "They're sort of roly-poly. It's sturdy and doesn't stop for anything."

Ostergaard, a retired electrical engineer, came to Maine from his native Denmark via Greenland, where he spent four years working for the national telecommunications company. His association with American scientists there eventually led him to the United States.

Little Bear was built in Scotland in 1964 for a professor of classical arts at Cambridge University. Ostergaard had been looking for one like it 25 years ago — the shallow draft and round hull are particularly well-suited to sailing in the Arctic — when he found it at a yacht dealer in Southern Massachusetts.

With central heating, a full bath and other basic amenities, Little Bear is suitable for living aboard, and Ostergaard did for 16 years in various places.

Along the way, "in a fit of late career needing to use my hands," he attended The Landing School in Arundel to study boat building, and has applied what he learned in maintaining Little Bear. Today, he has a home on land in Lincolnville.

Ostergaard and Little Bear were planning to leave Belfast on May 14 or 15 for a mooring in Northport. His wife is still working, he said, but when she joins him in retirement he guessed they would probably head north in earnest, maybe back to Greenland.

Thompson's Wharf on May 4, with Little Bear, right, at the end of the dock. (Photo by: Ethan Andrews)
Little Bear, Jens Ostergaard's 1964 replica of a North Sea trawler, at Thompson's Wharf May 4. (Photo by: Ethan Andrews)
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