This is Blackjack. The 114-year-old friendship sloop is the latest project at the Sail, Power and Steam Museum in Rockland. What is a friendship sloop, you ask?
“A friendship sloop is originally a vessel designed to harvest lobsters before the age of the engine,” said Hugh Lane, site manager at the Sail, Power and Steam Museum in Rockland.
Many were built by shipbuilder Wilbur Morse in nearby Friendship, hence the name.
But since the engine, these boats’ numbers have dwindled. Blackjack is one of just a handful still around.
“This particular boat I’ve been told was in Southwest Harbor for a number of years as a passenger vessel. Then it was sent down to Massachusetts where it sat for years on land and it deteriorated,” said Lane.
Now, with some help from the Friendship Sloop Society, the boat is here in Rockland
“That’s strange, that one.”
Being painstakingly restored by a team of volunteers.
“We couldn’t do this without them,” said Lane.
As you might expect on a boat of this age, there’s a lot work that needs to be done both inside and out. They say this whole restoration project could take several years.
“And we don’t know all of its history, but a lot of it is sort of engraved in this pile of junk. As we took it apart, we sort of realized the pretty standard modifications that have happened to this vessel over the years,” said Lane.
They’ve run into plenty of challenges already, like these iron fastenings.
“When they rust, they expend into the wood and it really locks them up tight. So they’re all really built together well until — see how that’s really reduced in diameter? And that’s only 20 or 30 years old and a lot of the fastenings in the boat are 115 years old,” said boatbuilder Jim Loney, who is the contractor for the project.
But it’ll all be worth it when this century-old piece of Maine’s history again sets sail on Penobscot Bay.
A rebirth of a vessel that meant so much to so many families and so many people for so many years, once again back in the waters where she was born, right here in the coast of Maine,” said Noel March, commodore of the Friendship Sloop Society.
The museum is always looking for volunteers.
If you’d like to help restore Blackjack, you can show up any Tuesday or Thursday at 10 at the shop on Mechanic Street and they’ll put you to work.