Tall Ships Maine Parade Starts Weekend of Racing in Portland Harbor


Picture Perfect Evening for Sailing on the Gaff Rigged Harvey Gamage This Evening.

Mayor Ethan Strimling Welcomes the Public to Tall Ships Maine 2019.

Bruce Clary, 72, Aboard the Harvey Gamage, This Evening.  He Owns a Freedom 25 Catboat That He Sails Out of Centerboard Yacht Club, South Portland and He Sails Singlehandedly.

The Ship’s Bosun (L) , Responsible for Rigging and Sails on the Harvey Gamage. with the Captain Cassie Sleeper on Right.

Some of the Crew Lowering the Fore Sail This Evening.

The 131 ft. Harvey Gamage Approaching Maine Wharf, Portland, ‘This Afternoon..  She was Built in 1973 at a South Bristol Boatyard.

The evening cruise of the Tall Ships Maine was picture perfect aboard the Harvey Gamage, owned by Phineas Sprague, Jr., owner of Portland Shipyard on  West Commercial Street.

Portland Harbor was calm, it wasn’t raining and the crew was extraordinarily attentive to requests from passengers on the 131 ft., wooden boat which this blogger had the distinct and rare pleasure of sailing on for three hours this summer night for a fundraiser for Tall Ships Maine.

There was only one important ingredient  missing. It certainly was not the fault of the Captain, Cassie Sleeper, or the crew.  There was little wind!

However, earlier in the day the winds had been strong with some boats heeling over so far that the rails were under water.  That sent them scurrying up the Fore River for the comfort of the passengers on board them.

“”This is how the explorers found land they didn’t know existed,” said Captain Sleeper. The wind was about 4 – 8 knots or 5 – 10 mph. “She’s a big girl to sail in this little box,” the petite, west coast Captain said.  Consequently, the main sail was never raised.  Rather, two smaller sails were raised and the engine at times motored us around Portland Harbor.  “We are sailing,” said the Captain.  And we were.

Fifty-two  passengers were on board for as many different reasons. For Katherine Magee, of New Hampshire, she sailed on her back in 2004 as [part of the now defunct Ocean Classroom program when she was a psycho biology student at Long Island University.  Her goal was to train Dolphins.  She spent two months on the Gamage or one college semester.   “It was one of the best experiences of my life,” she said.  This is the first she’s been back aboard the Gamage. since 2004. “There is lots of nostalgia here for me,” she said.  “That’s why I was anxious to sail on her again.  And I was  glad to hear that she has remained on the East Coast, following the demise of Ocean Classroom.”

A large contingent from the  Centerboard Yacht Club, South Portland, were aboard to show their support for the mission of the ‘Tall Ships Maine – to provide scholarships for young people to sail aboard the Gamage through scholarships provided by Tall Ships Maine.

One of them was Bruce Clary, 72, who has been sailing for many years all over the country.  He recalled sailing before sophisticated electronic equipment was in use to mhn.com.  “A chart is a large scale map always determining your course – by getting a fix off the chart or getting a fix on a compass and transferring it to a chart,” he said.  “Younger sailors rely too much on electronics and they generally have limited skills with a chart and compass. When electronics breakdown they are in trouble because of  excessive reliance on them.”

Clary has sailed on the Great Lakes which makes this look like a bathtub, he said.  Lake MIchigan is windier and rougher, but the sailing is the best here.”  He is a retired political science and public policy professor at the Muskie School of Public Service where he had former Portland mayor and now state representative Michael Brennan as a student.

Mayor Ethan Strimling, who recently announced he is running for re-election this fall, welcomed the public to Tall Ships Maine.  He emphasized how important it is for Portland to keep the working waterfront in tact.  The Mayor referred to the recent battle with some of the property owners and developers on the waterfront.  Then he left to attend a Sea Dogs game with some of the immigrants recently arrived at the Portland Expo on Park Avenue.  (See above right photo of the Mayor).

Meanwhile, Lions Whelp, the Sprague family yacht has been spotted on Casco Bay as its owner takes it out on trial runs for its anticipated journey to Cartwright, Labrador.  The hull of the 64’9″ Alden designed yacht was found incomplete in Monterey Bay and was completed at Portland Yacht Services, 58 Fore Street.  The interior is of “Hereshoff Style” and made of Brazilian Light Cherry.   It was built for worldwide sailing including “collisions with an iceberg or container.”  It has remained under cover and out of the water because of a family issue.  That has been resolved in some fashion since it’s being outfitted for a trip north.  It was built to resemble the yacht that brought the Sprague family over from Europe originally and at one time was for sale at a “priced to sell” price.  (Please see post herein on Lion’s Whelp dated March 21, 2010).

Please see posts herein dated May 28, 2019 and and March 4, 2019 for more background information on the Tall Ships Maine program was it does for the youth of Maine.

(note:  Special thanks to volunteer Ken Sparta for making this happen)!