Gaff Tech

Most every MMA mariner knows of Bowdoin, which completes 2018 sail training cruises in August, and is the Official Vessel of the State of Maine. But how much do you really know?

Designed by William Hand, the 88-foot schooner was launched in 1921 at Hodgdon Brothers Shipyard, East Boothbay, Maine, for her master Adm. Donald MacMillan for arctic exploration in an admittedly old-world style—29 trips north of the Arctic Circle, four times wintered over, frozen in ice.

Bowdoin was built of stout stuff to do the job: she’s planked with 2-3/4” white oak on 6” double-sawn frames, which essentially makes a frame that is 6” x 12”. Bowdoin is locust trunnel-fastened with 1-1/2” dowels driven through planking and frames into the interior planks. She displaces 66 gross registered tons. She’ll do 12 knots under sail.

Bowdoin’s role at MMA is unique. She trains not only vessel operations majors who will skipper the high-tech ships of the future, but also the next generation of tall ship captains, who come from all across America to take a turn at the helm.

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