Annual Training Cruise: Schooner Bowdoin

Maine Maritime Academy’s Schooner Bowdoin, a National Historic Landmark and the Official Vessel of the State of Maine, is the flagship of the Vessel Operations and Technology (VOT) program. Students in the VOT program navigate and maintain the 88-foot tall ship, with the help of six crew members, as part of their at-sea training during the summer months.

Students learn to fit out the schooner for the sailing season, terrestrial and celestial navigation, watchkeeping, vessel handling, emergency operations, passage planning, and the entering and clearing of foreign ports.

A typical training cruise itinerary includes sailing into Canadian waters, such as Halifax or the Bra d’Or Lakes in Nova Scotia; coastal Maine destinations, such as Roque Island, Boothbay Harbor, and Portland; and New England stops such as Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Provincetown, Massachusetts.

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.

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.