MOUNT DESERT ISLAND — In 1762, Abraham Somes, his wife Hannah, and four young daughters, Hannah, Patty, Lucy, and Prudence, sailed from Gloucester, Mass., in a Chebacco boat. They were pioneers in the settlement of Mount Desert Island. This summer, with the support of the Essex Shipbuilding Museum in Massachusetts, the Mount Desert Island Historical Society will recreate that early voyage aboard the Lewis H. Story, an authentic reproduction of a thirty-two-foot Chebacco boat, a common working vessel of the 18th and 19th centuries. The Lewis H. Story was built in 1998 at the historic Essex shipyard of Harold Burnham.
According to maritime historian Howard Chapelle, “The [American] Revolution practically destroyed the colonial fishing fleet and capital was lacking to build schooner replacements. As a result, the low-cost. . . boats became very popular and were built in large numbers, particularly at Essex, then part of Ipswich, Massachusetts, and called Chebacco Parish. As a result the two-masted boats became known as Chebacco Boats….”
While she is here, the Lewis H. Story will visit many locations in Somes Sound and the Great Harbor of Mount Desert Island. The boat will be available free to the community for day sails, educational tours, celebrations, and what Mount Desert Island Historical Society President Bill Horner calls “general jollification.”
The following are key dates and activities for the visit of the Lewis H. Story. All times listed are subject to change due to weather and tide.
Saturday, July 13— 1:00 pm: The Lewis H. Story will sail to Somesville with Abraham Somes and family re-enactors aboard, and arrive at the Gallery at Somes Sound to pose for a gathering of plein air painters.
Sunday, July 14—10:00 am to 4:00 pm, the Lewis H. Story will be available for short sailing excursions. Call Mount Desert Island Historical Society for reservations. From 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm, all are invited to a community cookout with music by Dog Mountain Bluegrass Band at Dysart’s Great Harbor Marina. Admission is free, with food and soft drinks available for modest prices.
Monday, July 15 to Thursday, July 18: The Lewis H. Story is reserved for sailing excursions for campers from the MDI Community Sailing Program, Northeast Harbor Fleet, Camp Beech Cliff, and the Neighborhood House.
Thursday, July 18—5:00 pm to 7:00 pm, Great Harbor Maritime Museum will host an evening event in Northeast Harbor. Please call 276-5262 for more information, or sign up at the museum, 124 Main Street, Northeast Harbor.
Friday, July 19 to Sunday July 21, The Lewis H. Story will be available to the public for brief sailing excursions out of Northeast Harbor. Advance reservations are required and can be obtained by calling the Mount Desert Island Historical Society at (207) 276-9323 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Mount Desert Island Historical Society crew will return the Lewis H. Story to Gloucester on a voyage that will begin on July 22.