Museum Receives Gift of Local Vessel

The Sail, Power, and Steam Museum in Rockland, ME, recently received a generous and unexpected gift from Capt. Bob and Kathy Pratt:  the Rockland daysailer, “A Morning In Maine”.

Captain Pratt explained that as he looked to retirement, he wanted to identify a special steward for the vessel, one who would continue her legacy of showing both locals and visitors the wonders of Rockand Harbor and Penobscot Bay.  “One day as I was driving by the museum, it just hit me,” he said.  “What better place than a museum whose mission is to preserve and celebrate our maritime heritage -- one that is known for their sailing center and their collection of wooden boats?  The more I thought about it, the more sense it made, and I stopped in to meet with Captain Jim Sharp, co-founder of the museum.”

The rest, as they say, is history.  After starting the Midcoast Sailing Center a few years ago, the museum’s sailing programs have been growing.  With sail lessons (including SKFF (Sail Kids For Free), the museum’s free youth sailing program), classroom instruction, and captained vessel charters already on the docket, Captain Sharp noted that, “Adding ‘A Morning In Maine’ to our fleet just made sense.”

Capt. Bob noted that after 23 years and about 40,000 passengers, it was important to him that his legacy survive.  A marine biologist who held a joint appointment at the University of Maine Darling Center and Maine Maritime Academy, he has enjoyed sharing the natural wonders of our area, but just as importantly, he has enjoyed the people.  “Education is an important aspect of this business,” he noted, “but the fun part comes in the humor and storytelling.  I truly love this vessel, but I can’t describe the sheer joy in the laughter and camaraderie that comes with sharing the experience of sailing on Penobscot Bay with people who have never been on the water as well as with people who have lived beside it for their entire lives!”

The 55’ wooden ketch rigged vessel was designed and built by Pete Culler, a renowned boat designer from Dartmouth, MA.  She was launched in South Dartmouth, MA in 1970 at the Concordia Yacht Co.  Constructed of oak frames and Atlantic cedar planks and incorporating woods such as mahogany and teak, she was built as a traditional sailing vessel with modern conveniences and electronics. She was affectionately dubbed ”Pete’s Gold Plater.”

Sharp noted that the vessel has been brought into one of the museum’s boat sheds for maintenance over the course of the winter, and plans are to have her continue her sailing schedule from Middle Pier in Rockland next season.

Founded 15 years ago, the Sail, Power, and Steam Museum strives to enrich lives through hands-on, interactive and educational exhibits and experiences that celebrate our maritime and industrial heritage.  Located on the shores of Rockland Harbor, sandwiched between Snow Marine Park and the Rockland Marine Corporation, it sits on the site of the former Snow Shipyard.

“We created a place to house a unique collection of historically significant exhibits that celebrate our past,” said Sharp.  “From a massive steam hauling engine left in the mud by the shipyard that we excavated and restored to navigational instruments that were owned by the famed Nathaniel Bowditch to exhibits that showcase the breadth of the local lime and granite industries, our goal is keep our maritime past alive for generations to come.”

“But,” he added, “it is also our goal to look to the future.  Whether we are teaching youth the art, science, and sheer joy of sail (and providing that experience free of charge); helping mariners enhance their knowledge of navigation and rules of the road; or talking about the advances made in boat design and construction by local builders, we are constantly re-evaluating our programs to ensure that the museum remains relevant for generations to come.

“We are honored by this generous donation by Capt. Bob and Kathy Pratt.  It is certainly a tribute to our mission that they have chosen us to be the new stewards of ‘A Morning in Maine’.”

Now closed for the season, more information as well as virtual tours, classes, and a wintertime virtual speaker series called “Captains’ Quarters” can be found at the museum’s website, www.SailPowerSteamMuseum.org.

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