A historic gaff-rigged topsail schooner returns to local waters July 30 providing day tours. The Isaac H. Evans was built in 1886 and worked in the oyster trade until 1940. In 1971, the schooner was bought by a Rockland couple and later joined a fleet of local windjammers. In more recent years, the Isaac H. Evans has worked as a three to six-day charter boat. In 2020, the schooner took the year off due to the coronavirus. In April, Andy Tyska, Jessica Kelley and Josh Jacques bought the schooner with an eye toward continuing in the charter business.
Once the sale was complete, Kelley and Jacques began refurbishing and preparing for sail next year. The two stripped down the vessel, scraped the bottom, puttied, primed and repainted the schooner in six days. But a faster than expected refurbishing left the owners with an unexpected option to begin private charters this summer. So beginning, July 30, the schooner is available for two-hour charters around Boothbay Harbor waters. Kelley and Jacques will co-captain the private charters in July, August and September. The schooner has a 22-person limit. There will be no onboard meals this year. Next year, there will be meals with a local flavor.
“All the meals are ‘farm to table’ so it’s all produced locally,” she said.
In 2022, the business focus turns from the day trips to multiple-day charters around Penobscot Bay. For Jacques and Kelley, the prospect of sailing around Penobscot Bay in a historic schooner was an opportunity too good to pass up. As an owner, Jacques understands a historic schooner like Isaac H. Evans demands numerous hours of maintenance. He estimated it takes nine months of work for three months of sailing. So maintenance is a labor of love for Kelley and Jacques, who are excited about sailing around such beautiful local ocean scenery.
“Yes, it’s a lot of work, but sailing out on Penobscot Bay makes it absolutely worth it. There’s like a thousand islands in calm seas which is often described as ‘where the mountains meet the sea.’ It’s all so beautiful with the sea, wind, fog, animals and scenery,” he said.
Kelley agrees with Jacques about Penobscot Bay’s spectacular views. and sites around Boothbay Harbor. She has sailed around Australia, Tasmania and along the eastern U.S. coast. She said nothing compares to Maine’s scenic ocean views. “You come here, and there’s nothing really like Maine and especially Penobscot Bay. It’s so special,” she said.
Jacques and Kelley arrived in Rockland earlier this year preparing to work aboard another schooner. They spotted the Isacc H. Evans nearby and inquired about its situation. They discovered it was for sale. So along with Tyska, the partners bought the historic schooner which was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1992.
Make reservations at www.schoonerisaachevans.com or by phone at 401-527-2193.