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Schooner Bowdoin Facts

Specifications and Facts:

Schooner Bowdoin

Length Overall: 88 feet
Beam: 21 feet
Displacement: 66 tons
Draft: 10 feet
Hull: White oak
Deck: White pine
Power: Gaff rigged sails on two masts. . . auxiliary diesel engine, 190 Hp. Cummins
Masts: Douglass fir
Sails: Oceanus™
Rigging: Gaff rigged schooner, bald headed, knockabout
Anchors: two 500 lb. fisherman, 3/4" stud link chain
Navigation Equipment: radar, GPS, INMARSAT-C, VHF & SSB radio.
Speed: under sail - 10 knots, maximum
auxiliary - 7 knots, maximum
Crew: 16

Completely rebuilt in 1980-84 at Percy & Small Shipyard, Maine Maritime Museum, Bath , Maine.

Launched: 1921, Hodgdon Brothers Shipyard, East Boothbay, Maine

Cost when built: $35,000.00

Special Features: Ice barrel at top of foremast, reinforced and designed for ice work and Arctic exploration.

Voyages North: 28 north of the Arctic Circle, four times wintered over, frozen in ice; sailed from Wiscasset and Boothbay, Maine (two such voyages since owned by Maine Maritime Academy).

Length of North Voyages: one year to two months.

Safety Features: Fully USCG certified as a sailing school vessel and passenger vessel.

Current Owner: Maine Maritime Academy, Castine, Maine.

Homeport: Castine, Maine.

Prior Owner: Schooner Bowdoin Association.

Schooner Bowdoin Website:

Historical Highlights:

  • Designed by William Hand, built by Hodgdon Brothers Shipyard, East Boothbay, Maine, 1921.
  • Made 26 voyages to the Arctic between 1921 and 1954.
  • Served on U.S. Navy Greenland patrol during World War II.
  • Adm. Donald MacMillan, her skipper, became internationally know for his explorations in the Far North. . .received Hubbard Gold Medal of the National Geographic Society, 1953.
  • Designated Maine's official state vessel by the Governor and Legislature, August 4, 1988.
  • Flew National Geographic Society's flag in Op Sail, 1986
  • Purchased by Maine Maritime Academy from the Schooner Bowdoin Association, 1988.
  • Designated a National Historic Landmark, 1989.
  • Sailed to Nain, Labrador, in 1990 . . . first voyage to the North since the 1950s.
  • Sailed to Disko Island, Greenland, in 1991, 150 miles north of the Arctic Circle.
  • 1992 cruise: New England and the Canadian Maritimes.
  • 1993 cruise: Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, St. Pierre, Miquelon.
  • 1994 cruise : Umanaq, Greenland, 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle.
  • 1999 cruise: Newfoundland and Labrador.

Today's Mission:

  • To provide sail training for Maine Maritime Academy students and the public.
  • To aid in recruiting and community relations.

Further Reading:

For more information about the schooner Bowdoin, please refer to your library for books and articles including:


  • Allen, Everett. Arctic Odyssey, The Life of Rear Admiral Donald B. MacMillan, New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1962.
  • Cowan, Mary Morton. Captain Mac, The Life of Donald Baxter MacMillan, Arctic Explorer, Honesdale, PA: Calkins Creek, 2010.
  • Horr, Alfred Reuel. The Log of the Schooner Bowdoin, Cleveland: World Publishing Co., 1947.
  • MacMillan, Donald Baxter. Etah and Beyond: Or, Life Within Twelve Degrees of the Pole, Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1927.
  • MacMillan, Miriam (Look). Green Seas and White Ice, New York: Dodd, Mead, and Co., 1948.
  • Thorndike, Virginia. The Arctic Schooner Bowdoin, A Biography, Unity, Maine: North Country Press, 1995.


  • Brown, James P. "North to Labrador: A Maine Sailing Adventure," DownEast Magazine, Vol. 38, No. 1, August ,1991. p. 32-37.
  • Kirschenbaum, Jerry. "William Hand: The Evolution of an Architect," WoodenBoat Magazine, No. 28, May/June, 1979. p. 58-67.
  • Malcolm, John. "Donald MacMillan's 'Bowdoin' Sails Again," DownEast Magazine, April, 1977. p. 46-51, 72.
  • Pierson, Elizabeth Cary. "Reviving Maine's Arctic Connection," DownEast Magazine, March, 1985. p. 20-25.
  • Rappaport, Elliot. "North - Maine Maritime Academy in the Arctic," WoodenBoat Magazine, No. 129, March/April, 1996. p. 58-67.
  • Rappaport, Stephen "Northern Light: Bowdoin's Arctic Summer," Maine Boats and Harbors, August/September, 1995. p. 54-61.
  • Spectre, Peter H. " The Bowdoin Project," WoodenBoat Magazine, No. 47, July/August, 1982. p. 30-37.


Greenman, John and Nelson, Noreen. Two Lives of the Schooner Bowdoin. Orono, Maine: Maine Public Broadcasting Network. 1991. Several amateur video footage cassettes on file in Nutting Memorial Library, Maine Maritime Academy, Castine, Maine, 04420. Searchable in the college's online library catalog at:


  • Cowan, Mary Morton. Ice Country: One Boy's Adventure in the Arctic with Commander Donald MacMillan, Camden, Maine: Cricketfield Press, 1995.
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