BATH, Maine — Visitors to Maine Maritime Museum this weekend will have a rare chance to see the innards of a graceful sailing vessel that has spent the past 111 years making its mark on history and Hollywood.
As part of the museum’s year-long 50th anniversary celebration, the 177-foot three-masted Gazela Primeiro will be open to tours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Built and launched in Portugal in 1901, the Gazela Primeiro is the oldest active wooden square-rigged barkentine sailing vessel in the United States, according to a press release from the museum. It originally was a member of the Portuguese White Fleet, and until 1969, sailed to the Grand Banks each year to fish for cod with the assistance of one-man dories.
The vessel was purchased in 1970 by philanthropist William Wikoff Smith for the Philadelphia Maritime Museum. The ship left for its new home in Philadelphia in May 1971, tracing Christopher Columbus’ route through the Canary Islands and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
In 1985, Gazela was transferred to the Philadelphia Ship Preservation Guild, a not-for-profit organization that operates and maintains the vessel with the support of donors and volunteers.
The Gazela has appeared in several movies, including Interview with a Vampire in 1994 and The Widow of St. Pierre in 2000.
Tickets to board the vessel on Saturday and Sunday cost $5 each.