Spirit will progress slowly down Commercial Street
Wednesday morning April 9 from 0600 to 0700 to the new
Portland Yacht Services shipyard west of the Casco Bay Bridge
Portland, Maine – At 6 am Wednesday Brownell Systems will trailer the 125 foot schooner Spirit of Massachusetts down Commercial Street from the former Gowan Yard behind Becky’s Diner, under the Casco Bay Bridge and then across a large open expanse into the new Portland Yacht Services shipyard to begin an extensive restoration. The move is expected to take about an hour on the public streets and should not significantly affect morning traffic. Utility workers will be at the site to assist in the clearance of overhead utility wires.
The 30-year-old Spirit is one of three traditional schooners owned by Maine-based Ocean Classroom Foundation (OCF), one of the largest operators of educational sailing vessels in the country. OCF recently moved its marine operations from Boothbay to Portland and has partnered with Portland Yacht Services as part of a long-term expansion of its fleet and programs.
“The restoration of Spirit is an exciting turning point for us and our new presence here in Portland,” said Greg Belanger, OCF’s Executive Director. “This day would not have been possible without the support of Portland Yacht Services and the tremendous cooperation provided by the City of Portland. This will be the largest traditional ship restoration done in Portland in decades and will employ professional shipwrights as well as students and apprentices from boat building programs throughout Maine.”
Since Spirit’s launch in 1984, she has welcomed aboard up to twenty high school or college students at a time and engaged them in fully accredited, educational programs in maritime history, literature, marine science, and seamanship/navigation. Ocean Classroom has also offered a variety of unaccredited and contract programs aboard Spirit and its other vessels, Harvey Gamage and Westward. Over the years some 30,000 students have sailed Spirit everywhere from Newfoundland to Venezuela throughout the Caribbean Sea and along the Atlantic Seaboard. Since her launch, 300 to 350 thousand sea miles have passed beneath her keel.