Maritime Explorer: George H. McEvoy

Sat, 03/18/2023 - 12:00pm

    The 61st annual Windjammer Days will take place Sunday, June 25 through Saturday, July 1, 2023. This year the Friends of Windjammer Days is celebrating our rich population of Maritime Explorers. Those featured have traveled extensively on different bodies of waters either for work, pleasure or both.

    “Messin’ Around in Boats” has been a large part of George’s life. He remembers as a toddler having his father rent a wooden rowboat to go rowing and exploring on Sunday afternoons on a lake near his childhood home. During his early teens, his parents purchased a house on Southport Island which included an 18-foot centerboard sailboat. Not knowing a thing about sailing, he would row out to the boat on its mooring with his father and figure out what did what on the boat to make it sail. After figuring it all out, sailing was a popular pastime in his earlier days. A few years later, he went during the summer, as a stern man for Sid Gray, a local lobsterman, as well as a neighbor. He also ventured out to visit the lighthouse keepers on Burnt Island, an elderly couple who were employed the U.S. Lighthouse Service, helping them with various chores such as mowing the lawn and winding the mechanics that operated both the light rotation in the tower and the fog bell. His interest in lighthouses remained and in 1983 was instrumental in saving Ram Island Light Station from being torn down by the Coast Guard and is now a preserved national landmark.

    George also made several voyages to Florida in the Intra Coastal Waterway moving boats between Florida and Boothbay Harbor during the spring and fall. In the mid-1960s he purchased a marine hardware facility on the waterfront in Boothbay Harbor known as Marine Supply, which later became the Tugboat Inn.

    During this period he purchased the Block Island ferry, the Nelseco, built at Reed’s Shipyard on Atlantic Avenue, which was retired from service running out to Block Island from New London. Plans were to tie it next to the pier where the Tugboat Inn is presently and have a floating pub and restaurant. In the process of running the boat from New London to Boothbay Harbor the crew ran into a storm at night off Plymouth, Massachusetts and it sank with the crew being rescued by the Coast Guard.

    In 1970, he purchased the 142’ Grand Banks Schooner, Sherman Zwicker, a sister ship of the famed Blue Nose. The schooner was fishing in Labrador from its homeport in Newfoundland and brought this vessel to Boothbay Harbor where it was a floating museum on Commercial Street and later it was displayed during the summer months at the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath. In the fall of each year, it usually made a trip to a Tall Ship event at different ports along the U. S. Atlantic Coast and Canada. They also sailed to Newfoundland on three different adventures between 1994 and 1997. During the 1990s, he explored the Caribbean each winter, first in his 44-foot Cherubini Ketch, and then his 65-foot Herreshoff schooner, Mistral, which he had constructed in Washougal, Washington by Legendary Yachts. During those years he based out of the Island of Grenada.

    Presently, George spends much of his time maintaining the Nellie G II, built at Goudy & Stevens Shipyard in 1932. The Nellie G II was formerly the Squirrel Island ferry from 1932 to 1967 and is a familiar sight on the waters of the Boothbay region during the summer months.