The crew of the Jane Stevens take the first strokes of the 21-mile trip just after 2 p.m. on July 28, 2022. John Terhune / The Times Record

Oars in hand, provisions at the ready, the crew of seven pushed off from the dock and set forth on their long voyage east, accompanied by celebratory cannon fire. It could have been a scene from 400 years ago – minus the cars on Route 1 passing overhead.

The Jane Stevens, a 17th century-style shallop, began its three-day journey from the Bath Freight Shed to Colonial Pemaquid Thursday afternoon. Two teams of volunteers will row the 18-foot tender 21 miles so that it can be featured at the historical site’s event on 17th century Wabanaki and European watercraft Saturday.

“We’re trying to teach people about Maine’s maritime culture and how far back it goes,” said Kirstie Truluck, executive director of Maine’s First Ship, which owns the Jane Stevens. “Ultimately, we just want to bring people into this opportunity where they can learn, but we want to do it in really hands on kind of ways.”

Located 13 miles south of Damariscotta, Colonial Pemaquid was home to an early English fishing community that interacted with French traders and the Wabanaki over the course of the 17th century, according to Historic Site Manager Neill De Paoli. Understanding the maritime histories of these groups is essential to unraveling the complicated relationships that brought them together through trade and war.

Kirstie Truluck, executive director of Maine’s First Ship, loads the Jane Stevens with supplies for the three-day journey ahead on July 28, 2022. John Terhune / The Times Record

“What we’ve been trying to do is tell the story of both the Europeans and the native folks in Midcoast Maine,” said De Paoli, who has been studying Pemaquid’s history for over 40 years. “(Boats) are just one facet of this whole cultural exchange between the French, English and Native Americans.”


Visitors at Saturday’s event, which runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., will be able to ride on the Jane Stevens and learn how the English and French used similar vessels to catch hauls of haddock, shad and especially cod off Pemaquid starting in the 1620s, according to De Paoli. They’ll also get to examine a birch bark canoe, the light and nimble boat preferred by the Wabanaki.

Back on land, costumed historical interpreters will share the perspectives of different groups from the area’s history, including French traders, pirates working off the coast of Nova Scotia and the English soldiers who manned a succession of three forts starting in the late 17th century.

Admission to the event is free, but the crew of the Jane Stevens will need to earn their way there. The group that departed Thursday expected their 7-mile trip down the Sasanoa River, through Hocomock and Knubble Bays and onto Georgetown Island just off White’s Cove to take between three and four hours, Truluck said.

A small crowd of Maine’s First Ship volunteers cheers on the crew of the Jane Stevens on July 28, 2022. John Terhune / The Times Record

A second group will take over Friday and row 5.5 miles to Squirrel Island, where they’ll spend the night and feast on sausages, beans, tuna and sardines from Bath’s Brackett’s Market. The same crew will again take to the seas early Saturday morning and complete the final 8.5 miles of the voyage.

“I’m excited,” said Cara Tetreault shortly before 2 p.m. Thursday, when the Jane Stevens departed. “Who wouldn’t want to be on the water on a day like today?”

Tetreault didn’t participate in the building of Virginia, an 11-year volunteer effort that culminated with the ship’s launch this June. But after seeing Virginia in the water, she decided she wanted to be a part of Maine’s First Ship’s next adventure.

“It was just really great to see 11 years of work turn into something so amazing,” she said. “I had no idea about the history here when we moved to Bath. So it’s really exciting to be a part of it, but also to promote it and share it with other people.”

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