Belfast festival celebrates maritime heritage

Posted July 28, 2008, at 12 a.m.
Last modified Jan. 28, 2011, at 12:08 a.m.

BELFAST, Maine&nbsp- Boat building and tours aboard a 59-year-old sardine carrier in original condition were among the highlights of the Belfast Marine Heritage Festival 2008 on Saturday.

The stage was set to draw 2,500 visitors from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Waterfront Heritage Park and the dock area.

Festival organizers couldn’ t have asked for better weather for visitors to take in the many events on the grassy park down to the shore.

The boat-building team of Bill Corbett and Jariath McEntee of Castine emerged as the winner among eight teams entered in the National Boatbuilding Challenge 2008. Team Castine completed the boat building in 2 hours, 54 minutes, falling short of the world record of 2 hours, 26 minutes set earlier this year in North Carolina.

The runner-up was the Waldo County Bluestreak Super Fast team of Kevin Brassbridge and Larry Jones.

Eight teams of two boat builders each worked from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. to construct a 12-foot Monhegan skiff in record time. The teams rowed their finished boats in a relay race in the bay later in the afternoon.

The outcome was based on three factors: speed of building the boat, quality of workmanship, and the relay rowing race.

Corbett and McEntee received a $500 cash prize for first place, and Brassbridge and Jones received $300 for second. All participants kept the boats they built.

On display down at the dock was the 83-foot sardine carrier Jacob Pike, owned by the Penobscot Marine Museum. Built in Thomaston by Newbert and Wallace in 1949, the Pike was one of a series of work boats built around that time.

In the heyday of the sardine factories along the coast, many factory workers depended on the sardines the Pike and other work boats delivered.

Taylor Allen and Martha White of Rockport Marine donated the Pike to the museum in 2007 after purchasing it from Dana Rice.

Jacob Pike ship keeper Sam Temple has been around boats most of his life. He is the grandson of the late Joel White, who owned a boatyard in Brooklin, and great-grandson of author E.B. White.

“I’ m a carpenter and woodworker,” Temple said. “I’ ve grown up on boats, and I know my way around this boat pretty well.”

The Pike will come out of the water at the end of the summer for a checkup, he said. The museum hopes to keep the boat in the water for at least one more season, he added. The aim is to try to raise money, he said.

“The museum is moving toward doing some significant work on the boat and having it go back in the water in a reconditioned form,” Temple said.

“This is a masterfully built boat,” he said. “It’ s really spectacular on how well it’ s held up.”

Museum Development Director Brian Folster said Saturday that the goal is to build a museum fleet of Maine-built boats.

Temple said the Pike would become the flagship of that fleet because of its “amazing craftsmanship and long years of service.”

Lawrence Lord, 91, or Rockland, who with his brother served as the first skipper of the Pike, paid a surprise visit to the dock Saturday. Lord and the ship will be at the Maine Boats, Homes &amp Harbors Show in Rockland this coming weekend, said Temple.

The festival included the eighth annual rowing regatta sponsored by Come Boating, a community organization, a classic small-boat show and modest boat-building exhibits provided by the museum.

There was live music from El Camino’ s Blue Grass Band and seafaring chantey and sailors’ work songs by Geoff Kauffman.

Other displays included three Buzzards Bay 30s, built in 1902, and recently refurbished by French &amp Webb of Belfast, and a birch-bark canoe made by the members of the Penobscot Nation.

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