Having the Ernestina-Morrissey (aka Effie M. Morrissey) and the Bowdoin side by side at our local shipyard is like having the Patriots and the Red Sox bunking in together at the Seagate Motel. The history of these vessels is almost too much to comprehend. Both ships have made multiple trips to the Arctic. Now, both are here being updated and restored, at the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard, extending their longevity and service.
It’s more than work on two great vessels, it’s a reinvigoration of skills all but dismissed by technology and automation. The folks who do the work on these boats bring knowledge and practices back to life that have all but vanished from our shores. Their skills are astonishing.
The Bowdoin was built here, by Hodgdon Brothers of East Boothbay, in 1921. It has sailed a lot. It is said that Admiral Donald B. MacMillan logged some 300,000 miles with 26 trips to the Arctic. The Bowdoin is a living testimony to nautical longevity, but maintaining a wooden vessel is a long-term project. From what I can tell, the work to be performed at the yard will primarily focus on bottom planking, the extent of which I am not certain.
In 1986, the Bowdoin returned to East Boothbay and a festive event. The inset photo was made by me with Mrs. MacMillan and Jim Stevens, then in charge of Goudy & Stevens Shipyard. Jim also oversaw a substantial Bowdoin repair in Bath. I think the railway from which the Bowdoin was launched in 1912 was in close proximity to the location shown in the inset photo. My photo was 1986, Governor Brennan was in attendance and spoke and Ellen Stevens Newton probably prepared a bottle of champagne for the event.
Additional note: My wife’s uncle, John Endicott, boarded the Gertrude L. Thebaud in Boothbay Harbor in 1937, at the age of 20, with Admiral MacMillan, headed for Baffin Land and Labrador. In a letter from Admiral MacMillan, John was directed to take the train to Wiscasset and a bus to Boothbay Harbor.