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Preview: The Schooner MARY DAY, An Evolutionary Rememberance

August 1, 2013

The 90′ Schooner Mary Day was built in 1962 specifically to carry passengers along the Maine Coast.  We tell her story and take you aboard on a WoodenBoat School instructional cruise.

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– [Narrator] Each summer along the coast of Maine from Boothbay Harbor all away to Northeast Harbor on the East. A dozen or more lovely traditional schooners weave their way through the islands, bays and thoroughfares carrying vacationing passengers. Because their surroundings are so beautiful and the vessels with their gaff-rigged sails and salty traditional lines are so appropriate to these surroundings, everyone on board is having the time of their lives. Over many years, thousands of people have enjoyed moments like this aboard schooners that ply the coast of Maine. This is the story of one of them. A Mary Day, and how it all began. The passenger schooner trade was birthed out of the aging bones of 19th century coastal schooners, that before internal combustion had been developed, were the 18 wheelers of the New England coast. Beginning in 1936, Frank Swift, a coastal captain from the old days, began to take passengers on week-long vacation sojourns along the coast out of Camden. The trips were an immediate hit. And soon he discovered that if his boat was fully booked, he could easily charter another ancient schooner along with it’s equally ancient skipper to carry the overflow. In these pre-cruise ship days, word spread that you could have a full-fledged, sea-going holiday on the cheap. As demand rose, Swift just kept chartering schooners . Aboard one of Swift’s vessels, the living was anything but easy. Pine-board bunks nailed up in the hold, where the cargo used to be stowed. And outhouse on deck. Wood stove cookery. Patched and ragged sails. Into this cozy mix sometime in the late 40’s stepped Havilah “Budsy” Hawkins. The son of an artist, and something of an artist himself, Budsy was either a man behind, or ahead of his times, depending on how you looked at it. In any case, he soon owned the schooner Alice Wentworth, and then the Stephen Tabor. Each one fixed up to haul passengers instead of lumber or stone. Soon, a group of vessels worth taking care of, became a fleet of a dozen or so. At this point, in 1962, Captain Hawkins did something totally different. He commissioned the Harvey Gamage shipyard in South Bristol, to build him a brand-new purpose built schooner for the tourist trade, and called her the Mary Day after his wife, the daughter of a long line of boat builders who’d worked in Brooklin, Maine for several generations. The Mary Day is 90 feet on deck, and carries 26 passengers plus crew. Budsy ran her for a couple of decades. Now she’s owned by Captain Barry King and his wife, Captain Jennifer Martin. Barry and Jen have come up with an appealing list of three, four and six day cruises. We caught up with the Mary Day during her week-long course with wooden boat school students as they experience the thrill of crewing a big traditional vessel.

– [Male Crew member] Even slower still peak. Hold peak. Hold throat.

– Frank and Ed, I want you guys to work on your technique for taking in the new working sheet, and cleating that off, and let’s do quick lesson on how we cleat off. So Bonnie, you go standby. Kate, you’re doing great. Just gotta stay there for a minute.

– Okay.

– Keep her going in a straight line. What could possibly go wrong? Nothing, nothing.

– [Narrator] Students start the week as rookies and by the end, they serve as crew, even as the Captain.

– Oh, we come to the right. We don’t want to hit the island, obviously. That is our next marker.

– So what you’ll do, take another turn-off, palm the line so that in kind-of that in-between moment, like right here, and when you’re taking it off the bottom of the pin, when you’ve got less tension on the line, it’s not gonna start slipping with your hand…

– If you think about a rudder, okay. As your rudder turns, it is generating basically a high pressure and a low pressure area, okay. See this block diagram? That’s pre 1900’s.

– [Female Crew Member] Nice .

– Take a walk forward just to take a look at it to see what it looks like.

– I’d release all the headsails actually a little bit.

– A little too tight?

– Yeah. I think all the headsails

– Okay.

– [Barry] You see what she just did? You used that sheet, you made the wind get stronger. That’s wild.

– [Crew member] Beautiful.

– Edward Ball. Ease up on the jibs.

– Okay, jump, ease the jib out. Just give me a foot or two.

– [Man in Blue Shirt] Somebody ease the staysail about a foot?

– [Crew Member In Red shirt] Maybe a little bit. Yeah, a little bit.

– [Narrator] The program goes like this. Work hard. Learn a lot. Laugh hard. Eat well. And sleep the sleep of the just.

– Good job everybody. You all did fantastic. Let’s go ahead and sheet in the four, let’s furl aft forsail and Eve, get up on the starboard.

– Ahh, I’d say there’s probably no words to describe it. Yep, you’ve died and gone to heaven. There’s nothing better than that. Everyone in the world should do this. Everyone, once at least.

– [Captain] Thank you, That was perfect.

– [Female Crew member] That was great.

– That was fantastic, huh? Alright, grab a tray and some butter. Come on down. I’ll be around in a few minutes with some wine, and I’ll be around with some paper towels. There’s lobster napkins on your trays. And just come on through and destroy the artwork we’ve made please. Make it all go away. Remember there’s a whole ‘nother kettle of lobster the same size as this. So this is Survivor in reverse. No one gets voted off the island until it’s all gone. If you’re looking for the lobster crackers, we don’t have any. Find yourself a rock and pound your way in. It’s an experience in what we call evolutionary remembrance. Like your Cro-Magnon brothers and sisters who sat on this very beach only weeks ago. Pound your way in with a rock.



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