Bowdoin History


  • 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 known for his explorations in the Far North; MacMillan received the Hubbard Gold Medal of the National Geographic Society in 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 the Official Vessel of the State of Maine, 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
  • Schooner Crew, a student-driven club, established at MMA, 2004
  • First Auxiliary Sail Training Cruise (CR214) course trip to Newfoundland, 2005
  • Participated in Tall Ships Norfolk, Virginia, 2007
  • Featured vessel in the Capt. Bob Bartlett Festival, Newfoundland & Labrador, 2009
  • Deck restoration project, 2015-16
  • Hull restoration project, 2018-19

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.