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Notes from the Belfast waterfront

Maine Maritime's training schooner in Belfast for paint

Bowdoin at the shipyard; city continues groundwork at Belfast Yards
By Ethan Andrews | Jun 06, 2017
Photo by: Ethan Andrews Workers on June 1 scrape paint from the hull of Maine Maritime Academy's schooner Bowdoin. The training ship is at Front Street Shipyard for repainting.

Belfast — At Front Street Shipyard June 1, workers were scraping ore-colored paint from the hull of Maine Maritime Academy's schooner Bowdoin. The 88-foot, two-masted schooner was originally built for Arctic exploration and acquired by MMA in 1988. Today it is used to train academy students in traditional sailing and is the official sailing vessel for the state of Maine.

Bowdoin arrived at the end of May for its first visit to Front Street Shipyard. Capt. Will McLean, a 2012 graduate of Maine Maritime Academy, said he expects the schooner to be in Belfast for about a week while the schooner gets a new coat of bottom and topside paint.

Like several other ships visiting the area recently, Bowdoin was made to sail in the Arctic. The schooner was built for Arctic exploration and has made 26 voyages above the Arctic Circle, McLean said. After repairs in Belfast, she is headed to Quebec City and the Maritimes — Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island — for a tall ships event.

Bowdoin looks the part of a tall ship, though McLean said the term is a modern one, coined during a sail training revival in the 1970s to describe traditional sailing vessels.

"It was an easy way to market traditional sailing vessels arriving in a port," he said. "Basically, you could call anything a tall ship."

Bowdoin recently had her foremast and much of her hull planking above the waterline replaced. A larger overhaul is on the horizon in the form of $1 million earmarked for the schooner in the coming biennial state budget. But with an ongoing budget standoff in Augusta, McLean wasn't ready to declare it a done deal.

Despite being almost a century old, the schooner is still rated to sail in any ocean in the world, McLean said. And with that in mind, the plan is to head north soon.

"We're hoping to take her back to the Arctic," he said. "If not earlier, then for her 100th birthday."

Groundwork at Belfast Yards

A quarter-mile from where schooner Bowdoin rested on boat stands June 1, workers from Maine Earth were sawing off the corner of a raised flower bed next to Front Street Pub, roughly following a line of string that marks the boundary between the restaurant property and an adjacent dirt lot owned by the city.

The city lot at 45 Front St. was last home to an old railroad building used by Belfast Maskers theater group. The "Maskers Building," as it came to be known, was demolished in 2015 and the site renamed Belfast Yards to promote its eventual redevelopment.

On Friday, Maine Earth was preparing to pave a new access road across it and add 20 new parking spaces around the property.

Front Street Shipyard has a deeded right-of-way through Belfast Yards to a finger of waterfront land that was once Belfast Boatyard. The city opted to pave the right-of-way because the project qualified to make use of remaining funds from a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields Program grant, some of which was previously used to remove oil-soaked soil and other toxic materials from the former industrial site.

Workers from Maine Earth shorten a raised flower bed outside Front Street Pub to make way for a paved right of way from Front Street to the south end of Front Street Shipyard. (Photo by: Ethan Andrews)
Maine Maritime Academy's training schooner Bowdoin, center with red hull, at Front Street Shipyard June 1. (Photo by: Ethan Andrews)
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Comments (2)
Posted by: Paul Sheridan | Jun 07, 2017 08:51

See what you want "The Kitchen," but I see surveying going on in that photo. I would rather know they were following "Measure twice, cut once."

and... Maine Earth are contractors, not state.

Ever try some REAL FACTS?.

Posted by: from the kitchen | Jun 07, 2017 05:18

One working, two watching; looks like a State crew.

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