Public invited to sail on schooner Bowdoin

Posted Sept. 05, 2010, at 8:18 p.m.

Members of the public are being offered the opportunity to sail aboard the historic 88-foot schooner Bowdoin from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 20, out of Castine and around Penobscot Bay.

Passengers should arrive early to embark at 3:30 p.m.

The Penobscot Council of the Navy League invites you to enjoy a light snack and beverages for $35 each, with proceeds benefiting scholarships for U.S. Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps and Merchant Marine students at Maine Maritime Academy and the University of Maine in Orono.

Retired USN Capt. Chris Kopang of Hampden is president of the PNLC and the Pine Tree Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America.

He told me this cruise is usually sold out, so if you really want to take advantage of this terrific opportunity to sail on Penobscot Bay at this price, make your reservations by Wednesday, Sept. 15, by writing a check to Penobscot Navy League Council and mailing it in care of Chris Kopang, 36 Surrey Lane, Hampden 04444.

You also can obtain more information by calling him at 862-3151.

According to the Bangor Daily News archives, the Bowdoin was built in 1921 in East Boothbay and made 25 scientific expeditions to the Arctic Circle through 1954.

Now moored at the MMA dock in Castine, its annual training cruise provides MMA students with instruction in traditional sailing techniques.

This public cruise is open to anyone older than 8, and Chris suggests you wear sneakers and dress comfortably.

People with mobility issues are welcome too.

“We have people who are able to help folks go up and down,” Chris told me, adding that there are only two or three steps “to board the Bowdoin, which you board pier-side” at the MMA dock.

The cruise is one way for the PNLC and MOAA “to spark community interest” in its fundraising efforts for military students, he said.

“This cruise is a lot of fun. People love it and, for lots of folks, it’s the only chance they get to sail.”

The cruise will take you out around the islands of Penobscot Bay but, Chris reminds you, “it depends upon the breezes” how the cruise proceeds.

Last year, he admitted, it was so calm “a little help was needed from the motor to get around.”

This also is an opportunity for interested individuals to meet members of, and learn more about, MOAA and the Navy League.

While MOAA is open to people who have served as officers in one of the branches of the U.S. military, “there is no requirement to have served in the military at all to be a member of the Navy League,” Chris said.

“It’s a civilian organization founded by Theodore Roosevelt in the 1900s to increase public interest in the U.S. Navy and help develop a strong Merchant Marine program,” he explained.

If you would like more information about either of these organizations, call Chris Kopang at the number above.

Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; javerill@bangordailynews.com; 990-8288.

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