THOMASTON, Maine — Amid the rumble of thunder and flashes of lightning, the 82-foot, newly renamed schooner Ladona entered the waters Friday following a year of major restoration.
The Ladona, formerly the Nathaniel Bowditch, will now head to Rockland for additional work at the Windjammer Wharf in Lermond’s Cove before it rejoins the windjammer fleet with passengers next June.
Jane Barnes was showered with champagne, and some glass, as she broke a bottle of bubbly on her second attempt against the bow of the Ladona. The vessel was then eased into the water at Lyman Morse Boatbuilding in Thomaston.
Capt. Noah Barnes and a team of boatbuilders have been working on the schooner since Barnes purchased the Bowditch in early 2014 after the former owners were foreclosed on by the mortgage holder.
The vessel, which originally was called Ladona, has a history that goes back nearly 100 years. Built in East Boothbay as a racing yacht, it won the Bermuda Cup in 1933 and patrolled New York City Harbor for submarines during World War II after being commissioned by the Coast Guard in 1942. The Ladona later served as a fishing vessel off the New England coast. In 1971, the vessel was rebuilt to be a commercial schooner and renamed the Nathaniel Bowditch.
Noah Barnes thanked the crew that brought the Landona back to its original condition. He has previously pointed out that the restoration project became much more extensive than he initially planned. The galley, the interior cabin layout, the bulk of the planking, the transom, the stem, the electronics and plumbing all had to be replaced. The entire deck structure also was redesigned.
“That’s the joy and terror of buying a boat,” he said in an interview last year. “This is an arduous and exacting craft. There is nothing light, nothing easy. There are no straight lines and everything has to fit perfectly.”
The Ladona will be able to carry 16 passengers when it sets sail against next June.
Barnes also is owner and captain of the schooner Stephen Taber, which he bought from his parents Ken and Ellen Barnes 13 years ago.
Friday afternoon’s launching was attended by several dozen well-wishers.