THE MARY E prepares to dock at Maine Maritime Museum in Bath. MMM purchased the schooner in November.

THE MARY E prepares to dock at Maine Maritime Museum in Bath. MMM purchased the schooner in November.

BATH

Maine’s oldest known operational wooden fishing schooner returned home to Bath on Sunday.

A crowd of onlookers watched as the Mary E pulled up to the docks at Maine Maritime Museum just after 10:30 a.m., completing a 300-mile journey from Pelham, New York.

The Mary E left port on April 15 and reached Portland on April 18, a day ahead of schedule. She sailed to Phippsburg on Saturday and docked at Sebasco Harbor before making the final leg of the journey up the Kennebec River on Sunday morning.

Her former captain and four other crew members sailed her up the coast from New York, including MMM’s resident shipwright Kurt Spiridakis.

“The trip up was fairly quick,” said Spiridakis. “It was a little rough at times, wet and cold, but probably what you would expect for April. The captain is very skilled and he made everything better, and we as a crew figured everything out as we went.”

The Mary E was purchased from previous owner Matt Culen by MMM this past November. The schooner, built in Bath in 1906 and renovated at a Bath shipyard in 1965, will be taken out of the water and renovated this summer on the museum’s grounds. Folks will be able to come and watch the repairs and learn about shipbuilding, a feature that MMM Executive Director Amy Lent said fits perfectly in line with the museum’s mission.

“She is a real floating icon that will act as an ambassador for Bath and for all of Maine for many years to come,” said Lent.

On Sunday, 200 onlookers greeted the Mary E and were then able to board her and look around the ship. One of them was longtime Bath resident Mary Elizabeth Donnell Bourchard, sister of former owner William Donnell.

“My brother renovated the Mary E right here back in 1965,” said Bourchard, who now lives in Vermont. “He found her down in Massachusetts, buried in the mud and he had her trucked up here to the place where she was originally built.”

Bourchard said that it took Donnell two years to complete the renovations. He then sailed the Mary E to Rockland, where he took folks on day trips aboard the schooner for the next five years. The Mary E passed through a handful of owners over the next 45 years, including Culen in 2006, before MMM made the move to bring her home.

“Now she’s back where she belongs,” said Bourchard. “She needs to be back on the Kennebec.”

After this summer’s planned renovations, the Mary E will remain dockside for daily tours. Lent said that she also hopes to begin a sailing program aboard the Mary E for 2018.

“We’re looking into what kind of program would make sense financially,” said Lent. “We hope to get input from people as to what they want.”

For more information on the Mary E’s return to Bath, visit mainemaritimemuseum.org.


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