Tall ships for Bicentennial WJD

Tue, 10/15/2019 - 12:15pm

The 58th annual Windjammer Days (WJD) Festival, June 21-27, is happening during Maine’s bicentennial, and the Friends of WJD are planning a festival full to the gunwales, starting with the return (after 15 years) of the Victory Chimes, that gorgeous three-masted schooner! The Victory Chimes is a U.S. National Historic Landmark, and the last surviving Chesapeake Ram schooner. 

The Oct. 8 Friends of Windjammer Days meeting was primarily about bringing more ships to Boothbay Harbor, many for the first and perhaps only time.

Mark Gimbel said Boothbay Harbor is the number one Maine port being considered for a five-day visit by the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry. Mark and Dianne Gimbel recently went to Newport, Rhode Island with Pete and Mary Ripley to meet with the captain of the Perry for details on getting her to our port, and to check out the gorgeous vessel.

The fee for the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry for five days is is $60,000. The vessel would be in Boothbay Harbor Thursday, June 25 through Sunday, June 28. The committee determines what events will happen on the Perry while it’s in port – and the Captain suggested the ship be used as much as possible! Some ideas circulating around the table at the meeting included selling tickets for 100 to 125 locals to be on board as she sails into Boothbay Harbor; a Thursday night arrival party with music; another night of dancing to live music; a family movie night with the film shown on the sails; climbing the rigging; and dinner with the captain.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – a fact not lost on the Friends of Windjammer Days. A small group of volunteer grant writers led by Meaghan Hamblett will be tackling the landing of funds for this dream bicentennial and WJD event. The Maine Office of Tourism offers matching grants that could add up to $25,000 to the Perry kitty. Mark said two other grants could bring another $3,000.

There is a negotiable payment deadline, with installments, to bring the ship to port. And you can be sure the Friends of WIndjammer Days will leave no stone unturned as they work to make this vision a reality.

Said Dianne, “We do not want to use the Dash Fund. We will find other ways to make this work.”

The Dash Fund was bequeathed for the festival by co-creators Captains David and Marion Dash. The Friends of Windjammer Days are committed to not using the fund – and as this group heads into its seventh year at the helm, it has been successful in maintaining that commitment.

Other vessel appearances in the works:

U.S.N. Wasp

Legwork is still underway to bring the U.S. Navy multipurpose amphibious assault ship (lead ship of her class) the USN Wasp into Boothbay Harbor during WJD. This vessel, the 10th USN ship with this name since 1775, is 844 feet long and requires an area 1-1/2 times its length for turnarounds.

The Kalmar Nyckel

Delaware's official state ship is a replica of the 1648 Swedish ship. It’s 141 feet overall. Homeport is the port where she was built, Wilimington, Delaware. The Gimbels and Ripleys will be visiting Delaware to hear the particulars about getting this beauty to Maine’s bicentennial year Windjammer Days Festival.

The U.S.C.G. Eagle

Pete Ripley said there are many other ports interested in the Eagle. Its homeport is New London, Connecticut. Ripley said if we get it for the Festival, it may be stopping into other ports along the way.

Patton’s When & If

This vessel was here two Octobers ago at its homeport of Wiscasset. It was built by J.F. Pendleton and designed by John Alden. There is a chance it will be returning to its homeport during WJD 2020.

Follow the Friends of Windjammer Days on Facebook and at www.boothbayharborwindjammerdays.org for updates.

The Friends of Windjammer Days are a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit group of volunteers who have come together to continue the tradition of Windjammer Days in Boothbay Harbor. They have committed to maintaining the heritage of this maritime event to enhance the Boothbay region community and the experience of maritime Maine.