ROCKLAND — The historic schooner Lewis R. French glided into the waters off North End Shipyard on Wednesday morning as it prepares for its 150th season at sea.

The French had regular maintenance and its annual Coast Guard inspection done at the Rockland shipyard. The schooner is on its way to Camden, where it will begin taking guests on trips on Memorial Day weekend.

The 150-year-old Lewis R. French prepares for its launch after regular maintenance and a safety inspection. Stephen Betts/The Courier-Gazette

The French did not sail last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions.

But this year, it’s full sail ahead.

The French has been owned for the past 18 years by Capt. Garth Wells and his wife, Jennie Tobin. Tobin said that reservations are strong for the season.

The French was previously based in Rockland but moved its base of operations to Camden in 1993.

The schooner can carry 20 guests on trips of three to six days. The French sails from Boothbay to Bar Harbor. At the end of June, the French will make a special trip to Christmas Cove in South Bristol, where the ship was built and launched for the first time in April 1871.

The 101-foot-long French is a national landmark, designated as one in 1992. The vessel carried freight for more than 100 years before being sold and undergoing a massive rebuild in 1973, when it joined the Maine windjammer fleet.

It is the last of the 19th-century schooners still plying the waters of Maine with passengers.

The Lewis R. French enters the waters at North End Shipyard on Wednesday. Stephen Betts/The Courier-Gazette

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