December 15, 2018
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MMA to mark schooner’s 90th birthday

Bridget Brown | BDN File Photo
Bridget Brown | BDN File Photo
In this July 2008 photo, Maine Maritime Academy junior Matt Garand, aboard the boat Mischief, exchanges greetings with students and crew members on the schooner Bowdoin, which was returning to Castine after a 60-day trip to the Arctic. MMA will mark the schooner’s 90th birthday on Sunday in Castine.

CASTINE — Maine Maritime Academy is preparing to mark the 90th birthday of the college’s historic schooner Bowdoin on Sunday, July 10. Activities will include the beginning of a local tribute to the designs of naval architect and Bowdoin designer William Hand Jr. and his design partner, Richard O. Davis.

All are welcome to attend Bowdoin birthday events 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on the waterfront campus at the base of Main Street. Guests are invited to enjoy tours of the Bowdoin. Complimentary birthday cake and ice cream will be served 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Mary Morton Cowan, the author of “Captain Mac: The Life of Donald Baxter MacMillan, Arctic Explorer,” will speak about Donald MacMillan and his long and distinguished career as an Arctic explorer 1-2 p.m. in Payson Hall. Festivities will conclude with the opportunity to view the anticipated arrival of several Hand and Davis vessels.

Organized by the Castine-based Guildive Cruises, and hosted by Maine Maritime Academy, the first William Hand Jr. & R.O. Davis Classic Boat Rendezvous will take place July 10-12. Beginning the afternoon of July 10, Hand- and Davis-designed yachts will arrive for the celebration.

Vessels will include the ketch Guildive, the Rockland-based 108-foot windjammer Nathaniel Bowditch, the 57-foot motorsailer Burma from Mystic, Conn., and the 36-foot ketch Alisande from Lincoln. An open invitation to participate has been extended to other sail- or motor-powered yachts designed by Hand or Davis.

On Monday, July 11, the Bowdoin will be open for free deck tours 9-10:45 a.m. and 3-5 p.m. Some of the Hand- and Davis-designed vessels will be open for tours 3-5 p.m., providing an opportunity to meet some of the captains and crew of the historic vessels.

The Bowdoin will offer free public sails, the first 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and the second 1-3 p. m. Contact Tina Pitchford at for reservations. Reservations will be confirmed in the order they are received, with a maximum of four people per group, and a standby list maintained on the dock starting at 9 a.m.

The day will include live music by Flash! In the Pans, a community steel band based in Blue Hill. Yachts will depart from Castine in a parade of sail the morning of Tuesday, July 12. For more information about the rendezvous, visit or contact Capts. Zander Parker and Kate Kana, 701-1421, or

The Bowdoin serves as MMA’s traditional sail-training flagship. The vessel was designed by Hand and launched in 1921 at Hodgdon Brothers Shipyard in East Boothbay. The schooner sailed on 25 scientific expeditions to the Arctic Circle under the command of Adm. Donald MacMillan. Bowdoin sent the first shortwave communications from the region in 1923 while wintering in Refuge Harbor, Greenland.

Today, the vessel regularly cruises Penobscot Bay and local waters providing a sail-training platform for the college. The schooner is uncovered each April to begin re-rigging on the college’s working waterfront in preparation for the summer cruising season. Each summer Bowdoin cruises New England waters, from Massachusetts to the Canadian Maritimes. Throughout the sailing season, the schooner serves as a public ambassador for the college, promoting traditional sail-training techniques and serving student and community groups.

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