A 34-foot boat that Maine Seacoast Mission will use to provide services to residents of Maine's offshore islands will be named 'Moonbeam,' mission officials said Tuesday. The vessel will be used temporarily while the Sunbeam V is undergoing a major overhaul this summer and fall. Credit: Courtesy of Maine Seacoast Mission

While its boat the Sunbeam is out of commission, an organization that offers services to residents of Maine’s outer islands will use the “Moonbeam” instead.

The Maine Seacoast Mission said Tuesday that elementary school students on the islands it serves picked “Moonbeam” as the name of its interim outreach vessel. The group said the name won out over “Hope” and “Promineo.”

“Hope was the name given to the Mission’s first vessel launched in 1905. Promineo is the Latin word meaning ‘to reach out,’” said Douglas Cornman, the mission’s island outreach director. “So, the Sunbeam crew will be traveling around on a Moonbeam this summer and fall while our beloved Sunbeam is enjoying its much needed refit.”

The mission is a non-denominational ecumenical nonprofit organization that provides pastoral, educational and medical support to residents of several offshore islands and Down East coastal towns. A nurse meets with island residents aboard the Sunbeam, and the vessel also brings performers and artists to the islands.

Credit: Bill Trotter

The Moonbeam is a 34-foot wooden Downeast Cruiser-style vessel, similar in size and design to a lobster boat.

Scott Fish, spokesman for the mission, said Tuesday that the organization plans to have the Sunbeam V overhauled in Maine but has not yet selected a boatyard to do the work. He said the deadline for submitting bids to the mission for the project is March 22.

Mike Johnson, captain of the Sunbeam, said Tuesday that work on the mission’s flagship vessel will include restoring the hull inside and out, and a full interior cosmetic redesign.

“Areas of the boat are getting dated, and the galley needs to be brought up to a more food service style set-up,” Jonson wrote in an email. “In addition we will be replacing all the windows, upgrading most of the marine electronics and installing more fuel efficient generators.”

The mission is based in Bar Harbor, but the Sunbeam’s home port is Northeast Harbor in the town of Mount Desert. Offshore communities the vessel visits regularly throughout the year include the Cranberry Isles, Swans Island, Frenchboro, Isle au Haut, Matinicus and Monhegan. The Sunbeam also visits the island towns of North Haven, Vinalhaven and Islesboro, but less often because of the state-operated vehicle ferries that serve those communities, mission officials have said.

All told, about 3,000 residents on the islands are served by the Sunbeam.

The Sunbeam is a 75-foot, steel-hulled vessel that the mission acquired in the mid-1990s. Over the past couple of years, mission officials contemplated whether to give it a major overhaul or to replace it altogether with a Sunbeam VI before deciding to upgrade the current vessel.

The mission raised $1.5 million for the Sunbeam overhaul project and hopes to have it back in the water by the end of the calendar year, according to mission officials.

Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....