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CASTINE, Maine—Maine Maritime Academy’s schooner Bowdoin, a national historic landmark and the official vessel of the State of Maine, will set sail for Canadian waters on Saturday, June 1st. Thirteen Academy students in the Vessel Operations and Technology program will navigate and maintain the 88-foot tall ship as part of their at-sea training during the month of June.
The Bowdoin travels widely in the summer and participates in a number of public events in its role as flagship of the MMA sail training program. This year, the Bowdoin’s schedule is as follows:
June 1 - 24 Sailing to the Bra d'Or Lakes, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia
June 25 - 26 Maine Windjammer Days, Boothbay Harbor
June 29 Open Boat, Portland Yacht Services, 58 Fore Street, Portland
Maine Maritime Academy is the only college in the United States with a dedicated sail training program that leads to a U.S. Coast Guard license as mate on an auxiliary sail vessel. Students may start with no prior sailing experience and graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree, a USCG license, and all necessary certificates.
Bowdoin’s Captain, Eric Jergenson, is a graduate of Maine Maritime Academy’s small vessel operations program and former sailing master at the college (2000-2009). He has sailed extensively aboard the schooner Bowdoin in positions ranging from Deckhand to Master, from points south of Boston to the Arctic. Jergenson holds a U.S. Coast Guard license for Auxiliary Sail Vessels upon Oceans and is a US SAILING Certified Coastal Passage instructor and an Instructor Trainer for Basic Keelboat and Cruising Instructors. “We have a great crew of MMA students who have worked hard fitting out Bowdoin during the month of May for this course. Now they can set aside their paint brushes, take a turn at the helm, and turn their hard work into seamanship skills and life-long memories.”
Joining the 30-day training cruise will be Vinalhaven High School (VHS) teacher Bryan Feezor, who will be spending his time planning a Celestial Navigation course for his juniors and seniors. Bryan will plan the course for VHS students who need additional mathematics credits beyond algebra and/or who want to take an applied math course. The course will also be made available online for students through the new Maine Skippers Program, a group of area high schools whose faculty share curricula for marine career preparation.
“I want to forge a lasting partnership with MMA to acquaint my students with STEM- and maritime-career opportunities, and with the college entry requirements to place them in the majors they want to pursue.” Admission to engineering- and science-focused colleges requires specific math courses and skills which, Feezor says, “…should be considered early on in high school.”
The Bowdoin enjoys a long history of seafaring education and Arctic exploration. Commissioned by explorer Donald B. MacMillan to facilitate his work in the high northern latitudes, Bowdoin has made 21 trips above the Arctic Circle, 18 of them before 1954 under the command of MacMillan. MacMillan sold Bowdoin to the U.S. Navy for use in World War II during the Greenland Patrol. After WWII, MacMillan bought the ship back for $3,000 and continued to sail her for nine more years around Greenland. After MacMillan’s retirement the boat belonged to the Schooner Bowdoin Association until 1988 when Maine Maritime Academy purchased the vessel for the purpose of training students.
The public is encouraged to follow the adventures of the schooner Bowdoin throughout the sail training cruise. Visit bowdoincruise.mma.edu or follow the cruise on facebook. Updates will include a Captain’s log and a hyperlink to the online vessel tracking site, iboat.
Maine Maritime Academy is a co-educational, public college on the coast of Maine offering 17 degree programs in engineering, management, science and transportation. The college is consistently ranked by US News and World Report as one of the top undergraduate engineering schools in the nation. MMA graduates benefit from hands-on instruction, international sea-time aboard the Training Ship State of Maine and Schooner Bowdoin, cadet shipping aboard commercial vessels, and cooperative education assignments. For more information, visit mainemaritime.edu.