Harry Hepburn (center left) and Christopher Stanley (right) of the Maine Antique Dealers Association donation present a $1,000 check to Orman Hatch and Kirstie Truluck. John Terhune / The Times Record

Representatives from the Maine Antiques Dealers Association presented Maine’s First Ship with a $1,000 check Wednesday afternoon, one month before the decades-long plan to reconstruct the 1607 pinnace Virginia will culminate with the ship’s launch on June 4.

The money will cover about a third of the cost of painting the ship, a project volunteers began in recent weeks, according to Maine’s First Ship staff.

“Every little bit helps,” said Orman Hines, the group’s president. “The paint is a really important part for getting the ship in the water.”

The nearly-completed Virginia with the beginnings of its first coat of paint. John Terhune / The Times Record

The ship, built entirely by a fleet of local volunteers, still requires work in several areas, according to Hines. Workers will need to hang the ship’s rudders and install its rigging, as well as install the dock from which it will launch.

Yet the Virginia, a 51-foot recreation of the first sailing vessel built in the Americas, already has everything it needs to float, said Executive Director Kirstie Truluck. Whatever work isn’t completed by the scheduled June 4 launch will be done when the ship is in the water.

“Ultimately, a little pressure helps to build the camaraderie,” Truluck said of the rush to finish the project. “It builds the problem solving and the creativity. It’s like shooting a particle accelerator on those things.”


The launch of the Virginia has been in the works for over 25 years, according to Truluck. While Maine’s First Ship originally planned on hiring professionals to construct the ship, the organization decided about 15 years ago to shift to volunteers.

Since the ship’s keel was laid in 2011, volunteers with all levels of carpentry experience and skill have worked together to bring the Virginia to life.

“It is true experiential learning, which I love,” Truluck said. “I definitely don’t like to make mistakes, but this is a place that is accepting.”

Kirstie Truluck (left) stands with volunteers on the deck of the Virginia. John Terhune / The Times Record

Harry Hepburn, chair of the Maine Antique Dealers Association’s endowment fund, called the construction a “wonderful project,” and noted the organization’s efforts to educate Maine students about local history.

“Anything we can do to help educate, promote and preserve,” agreed fellow association member Christopher Stanley. “That’s what we’re all about.”

The Maine Antique Dealers Association previously donated $2,000 to Maine’s First Ship, according to Hepburn.


Bath City Manager Marc Meyers said he’s looking forward to the June 4 launch at 4:30, which will be preceded by a street fair and remarks by Sen. Angus King and John Bear Mitchell of the Wabanaki Center.

“It’s a wonderful event for our city,” Meyers said. “I think the Virginia is going to be another downtown attraction for years to come.”

Maine’s first ship hopes to pursue Coast Guard certification this fall, Truluck said. With that certification, the Virginia will be able to carry up to 35 passengers starting in 2023.

Until then, volunteers from around the area will continue to show up, sometimes seven days a week, and devote their free time to the ship, Truluck said.

“At least 200 people over time have touched this ship,” she said. “It feels like the Field of Dreams: these people show up.”

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