Donate online and remember to select Bowdoin Centennial Campaign as your designation. Or, mail a check to MMA, Development Office, 1 Pleasant Street, Castine, ME 04420. Please write “Bowdoin Campaign” on the memo line.
Bowdoin’s Story: Past, Present & Future
Bowdoin has a rich and historical past.
From an early age, Donald B. MacMillan dreamed of sailing to the Arctic region. During his early years of exploration, he realized that he needed his own specially designed vessel to facilitate his work in the high northern latitudes … and so begins the story of Bowdoin.
MacMillan hired Naval architect William H. Hand of New Bedford, Massachusetts, to design the ship to his specifications, and the Hodgdon Brothers of East Boothbay, Maine, to build it. Financed by MacMillan and friends who bought shares at $100 each, the total cost was $35,000. In 1921 the schooner Bowdoin, named after MacMillan’s alma mater Bowdoin College, was launched.
MacMillan sold Bowdoin to the U.S. Navy for use in World War II military assignments, including the Greenland Patrol. After the war ended, MacMillan bought the ship back for $4,000.
Since her launch in 1921, Bowdoin has made almost 30 trips above the Arctic Circle, 25 of them before 1955 under the command of MacMillan. In 1959, Bowdoin was sold to Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic, Connecticut; and, in 1968, the Schooner Bowdoin Association took over ownership.
She was completely rebuilt in the early 1980s at Percy & Small Shipyard, Maine Maritime Museum, Bath, Maine. Maine Maritime Academy acquired the historic vessel in 1988 for the purpose of using her as a sail training vessel. The ship was designated the Official Vessel of the State of Maine in 1988 and a National Historic Landmark in 1989.
Licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard as a fully certified sailing school vessel and passenger vessel, Bowdoin benefits both students and the public at large.
Today, Bowdoin remains true to her deep maritime roots, acting as the key training ship for the men and women in MMA’s Vessel Operations and Technology (VOT) undergraduate program and the Small Vessel Operations (SVO) undergraduate program. The Bowdoin also serves as the training platform for MMA’s Sail Training Minor. As a traditional sailing vessel, Bowdoin provides every aspect of seamanship in its purest and most demanding form as well as the finest hands-on education there is for a career at sea.
When not in use for MMA’s training purposes, Bowdoin’s popularity and historical charm keep her calendar brimming with public and private tours, appearances, and excursions.
AS THE OFFICIAL VESSEL OF THE STATE OF MAINE, MMA TAKES GREAT PRIDE AND PLEASURE IN SHARING HER WITH AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE.
Whether you are a well-wisher in Castine as Bowdoin sets sail for another MMA training cruise, watching her in the Gulf of Maine as Bowdoin College faculty and staff immerse themselves in marine fieldwork, or waving dockside as she arrives in your coastal community, she is a beautiful and iconic image and loved by many.
For now and years to come, Castine, Maine will remain Bowdoin’s home port. One thing is for certain: future generations of mariners, scientists, and explorers will sail and train upon Bowdoin because of your generosity.
We invite you to help keep her story alive by supporting the Bowdoin Centennial Campaign.
WITH YOUR HELP, WE WILL RAISE THE $1.6 MILLION NECESSARY TO KEEP BOWDOIN ACTIVE, SEAWORTHY, AND HISTORICALLY PRESERVED.
Your support will safeguard and preserve Bowdoin’s maritime history, expand and improve her public accessibility, and strengthen and deliver the best hands-on traditional sail training program in the nation.
She is a proud vessel, serving with distinction, grace and always in full measure.
We are all drawn to Bowdoin for different, very personal reasons. Let’s join together in writing her next chapter in maritime history.