Maine’s schooner industry will expand this summer into both ends of the state with new day sailing operations out of Eastport and Casco Bay. Neither of these vessels is new, and neither is a stranger to the state, having both been built in Maine before long and far-ranging working lives, but they do represent a new and expanded range for the schooner business, which has long played an important part in Rockland, Camden and Boothbay.

Captain-owner Butch Harris plans to run the 84-foot SYLVINA W. BEAL out of downtown Eastport. Harris is no stranger to these waters, with 18 years’ experience running charter fishing and whale watching boats in this area. The vessel is also familiar with the grounds, having been originally built by the Frank J. Adams yard in East Boothbay in 1911 for an owner in Jonesport. She worked under sail for many years, fishing for mackerel and herring, and was then converted to an all-power vessel for use as a sardine carrier and cargo vessel. She was returned to sail in 1981, and put into operation carrying passengers out of Boothbay.

The two-masted knockabout schooner (rigged without a bowsprit) is licensed to carry 50 passengers on day trips, and Capt. Harris plans a mix of scenic day sails, whale watching trips, and sunset tours. This will be the first time a sailing vessel has been used for whale watching, which itself is a relatively young business in Maine, and will be the easternmost schooner in Maine, with the nearest sailing neighbor operating from Southwest Harbor. The boat has been repowered with a 150-horsepower John Deere diesel to insure that she can reliably and quickly find the whales with or without wind. “I’ve been at this a long time, and I can find the whales,” Harris says, “and provide a great sailing experience at the same time.” Trips are scheduled to begin June 15.

Captain Harris is also planning a second vessel, a 92-foot schooner to be built new by the Washington County Technical College Boat School, for launching in 2004. This vessel will be used for multi-day trips. More information on both scheduled trips and the future vessel can be found at .

The 72′ John G. Alden-designed BAGHEERA is returning to Maine after 75 years of roaming from the Galapagos Islands to the Great Lakes. Like the BEAL, she was also built in East Boothbay, launched in 1924 at the Rice Bros. Shipyard, stoutly constructed of longleaf yellow pine on oak frames. She has a long racing and cruising history, having sailed in the Bermuda race, as well as having won the Chicago-Mackinac race several times. She crossed the Atlantic and cruised parts of the Pacific as a private vessel before going into the passenger trade on the West Coast in the 1980s.

Peaks Island-based owners Twain Braden and Scott Reichmann will operate as the Portland Schooner Company. They purchased the vessel in San Francisco and had her trucked across the country last month to Chesapeake Bay, and then sailed her up to Portland. This is the first large vessel for the pair, but they are hopeful that their downtown Old Port location in Portland will bring many to the boat.

BAGHEERA will run four trips a day, seven days a week, Memorial Day to Columbus Day. She is licensed for 48 day passengers, and her owners hope to attract weddings, funerals, sail training school groups and experiential education trips as well as the scheduled day and sunset sails.

“We are hoping not just to serve tourists, but to get Portland area residents out to see beautiful Casco Bay as well,” says co-owner Reichmann, as well as providing for a complete sailing experience. “We really want to allow folks to be involved in the operation of the vessel if they want, setting and trimming sails and steering.”

As a part of serving the resident community, on Tuesdays the vessel will operate out of Peaks Island, also allowing for cruises further out into Casco Bay. More information and the cruise schedule can be found at portlandschooner, or by calling 1-87-SCHOONER (1-877-246-6637).