May 25, 2019
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Boat that provides services to remote Maine islands in dire need of repairs

Jennifer Mitchell | Maine Public
Jennifer Mitchell | Maine Public
The Sunbeam docks at Isle Au Haut on a frosty morning. The 74-foot boat serves island communities all year round.

After more than two decades of constant, year-round service the vessel Sunbeam V needs some major repairs if it’s to continue its mission to serve Maine’s remote island communities, says Maine Seacoast Mission, which oversees the Sunbeam’s operations.

“In boat years, the Sunbeam is 23, and that makes her middle-aged,” Maine Seacoast Mission president Scott Planting said.

Maine Seacoast Mission has ministered to island communities, from Great Cranberry to Monhegan, for more than 100 years. The vessel is the fifth incarnation of the ship that delivers health care and aid, as well as a floating social space and cafe for islanders. The Sunbeam also has been called upon to use her bulk to break ice for stranded lobster and mail boats in the depths of winter.

But Planting says the Sunbeam’s hull has begun to rust from the inside out.

“So we were making a decision at this place in her life: Do we refit the boat, or do we replace the boat? And after a pretty extensive survey of the boat, we made the decision to do a major overhaul.”

In addition to sandblasting the rust away and repainting the 74-foot hull, Planting says the vessel’s crew quarters, furnace and generators will also need to be refurbished or replaced. The project must be completed, says Planting; the boat is just too important.

“I can’t go anywhere on the coast of Maine without somebody stopping me to say you know ‘my grandfather was on that boat’ or ‘I was from Swans Island and I had some needs as a kid and you helped us out.’ So it’s a very heartfelt sense when you’re out on the islands and people see the boat.”

The Mission has raised $1.25 million dollars of the $1.5 million needed to complete the repairs.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.

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