Ship part

Volunteers from Maine’s first ship embark on a three-day maritime quest

The crew of the Jane Stevens takes the first shots of the 21-mile journey just after 2 p.m. on July 28, 2022. John Terhune / The time record

Oars in hand, provisions ready, the crew of seven left the dock and embarked on their long journey east, accompanied by festive cannon fire. It could have been a scene from 400 years ago – minus the cars on Route 1 passing overhead.

The Jane Stevens, a 17th century style longboat, began its three-day journey from the Bath Freight Shed to Colonial Pemaquid on Thursday afternoon. Two teams of volunteers will row the 18-foot tender over 21 miles so it can be showcased at the historic site event on 17th Century Wabanaki and European Watercraft on Saturday.

“We’re trying to teach people about Maine’s maritime culture and how far back it goes,” said Kirstie Truluck, executive director of Maine’s First Ship, owner of the Jane Stevens. “At the end of the day, we just want to bring people into this opportunity where they can learn, but we want to do it in a really hands-on way.”

Located 13 miles south of Damariscotta, Colonial Pemaquid was home to an early English fishing community that interacted with French traders and the Wabanaki during the 17th century, according to historic site manager Neill De Paoli. Understanding the maritime histories of these groups is key to unraveling the complex relationships that brought them together through trade and war.

Kirstie Truluck, executive director of Maine’s first ship, loads the Jane Stevens with supplies for the upcoming three-day voyage on July 28, 2022. John Terhune / The time record

“What we tried to do was tell the story of the Europeans and the natives of Midcoast Maine,” said De Paoli, who has studied Pemaquid history for more than 40 years. “(The boats) are just one facet of this whole cultural exchange between the French, the English and the Native Americans.”

Visitors to Saturday’s event, which runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., can board the Jane Stevens and learn how the English and French used similar vessels to fish for haddock, shad and especially cod off Pemaquid from the 1620s, according to De Paoli. They will also be able to examine a birch bark canoe, the favorite light and nimble boat of the Abenakis.

Back on land, costumed historical interpreters will share insights from different groups in the region’s history, including French traders, pirates working off the coast of Nova Scotia, and English soldiers who occupied a succession of three forts from the end of the 17th century.

Admission to the event is free, but the crew of the Jane Stevens will have to earn their place. The group that left on Thursday expected their 7-mile trip up the Sasanoa River, through Hocomock and Knubble Bays and onto Georgetown Island just off White’s Cove to take between three and four hours, said Truthuck.

A small crowd of volunteers from Maine’s first ship applaud the crew of the Jane Stevens on July 28, 2022. John Terhune / The time record

A second group will take over on Friday and paddle 5.5 miles to Squirrel Island, where they will spend the night and feast on sausages, beans, tuna and sardines from Bath’s Brackett Market. The same crew will set sail early Saturday morning and complete the final 8.5 miles of the trip.

“I’m excited,” Cara Tetreault said shortly before 2 p.m. Thursday as the Jane Stevens departed. “Who wouldn’t want to be on the water on a day like today?”

Tetreault was not involved in building the Virginia, an 11-year volunteer effort that culminated in the ship’s launch last June. But after seeing Virginia in the water, she decided she wanted to be part of Maine’s First Ship’s next adventure.

“It was really awesome to see 11 years of work turn into something so amazing,” she said. “I had no idea of ​​the history here when we moved to Bath, so it’s really exciting to be a part of it, but also to promote it and share it with other people.

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