Sailing the Sarah Mead

Lincoln Academy students set sail from Boothbay Harbor aboard the Sarah Mead as part of a Maritime History field trip.

Lincoln Academy’s Maritime History class is winding down its pioneering year.  The class has had both in-class and outside-of-class components and class members have had some unique opportunities to learn about the history of maritime travel. Instructors Luke Suttmeier of the LA History Department, and Shawn St. Cyr of the Design, Engineering, and Technology Department co-instructed the course to incorporate both history and hands-on experience. The course, which wraps up this week, included several field trips.

To enhance understanding of the maritime history of New England, the class recently visited to the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, Maine.  Students were given an interactive overview of the engineering challenges of shipbuilding and experienced firsthand the intricate process of building a wooden vessel.  Students worked together to create a wooden vessel model, toured the various buildings in the shipyard and were given hands-on practice using 19th-century shipbuilding tools: augers to drill holes for nails and caulking irons to practice sealing a hull.  Students left with a greater understanding of and appreciation for the complex and difficult process of planning and building the great wooden vessels of the 19th century.

The class also visited the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard to see the reconstruction of the Ernestina Morrissey, a 19th-century schooner built in Gloucester, Massachusetts.  The Ernestina-Morrissey has had many roles throughout its history, from exploring the Arctic to transporting immigrants from Cape Verde to the United States.  She was given to the United States as a gift in 1982 and is currently undergoing a massive rebuild at the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard.  Students learned about the process of constructing these vessels and saw techniques used in ship restoration.  While in Boothbay Harbor, students also spent an hour aboard the Sarah Mead, a restored 1902 wooden Friendship sloop which now operates tours out of Spruce Point Inn.  The captains of the Sarah Mead educated students about the history of these traditional local vessels and gave students a demonstration of how New Englanders once used to lobster under sail in these sloops.  Alas, no lobsters had found their way into the traps, but the trip was successful nonetheless.

In addition to these trips, students are currently working at ATEC to design historical vessels of their choice, from Viking longships to 19th-century schooners to Greek triremes.  Students are creating 2-D and 3-D models of their vessels on computers using CAD and will then use a 3-D printer to print small-scale models of their ships.