Five questions for 'the captain'

By Beth A. Birmingham | Aug 25, 2014
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham Capt. Jim Sharp with a half model of his prized Adventure.

Anyone with a passion for maritime history and nautical goods should visit the Sail, Power & Steam Museum on Mechanic Street in Rockland.

Not just for viewing all the unique artifacts, but also to hear Capt. Jim Sharp tell of his "boat-obsessed life."

Capt. Sharp has been in the sailing business in one aspect or another since he was a young boy in Philadelphia. He boated with his father on a power boat early on, then after a stint of chartering in Florida he followed the schooners to Maine in the late 1950s.

The author of "With Reckless Abandon" has owned 34 vessels of various sorts throughout his sailing career. In 1988, Capt. Sharp retired from the schooner business and spent 10 years cruising Europe with his wife, Meg.

He said he finally flunked retirement when the property on Mechanic Street went up for sale and he bought it from Outward Bound to build a legacy of the sailing industry. The couple founded the Sail, Power, & Steam Museum in 2008.

Capt. Sharp took time out of his storytelling and museum tours recently to answer these five questions:

How long have you been sailing?

"Since I was little. One time I stole my mother's bedsheet and took a broom, and made my own sailboat out of my father's skiff. I sailed up the Delaware River, but had to row all the way back because of the wind shift."

What is the farthest you have sailed?

"To the South Pacific, around Africa. I've gone around the world, but that was on a Russian ship."

What do you like most about sailing?

"The joy is in absorbing the cultures and coastlines as you travel. Sailing across the ocean one wave looks like the next one coming. I like to go across the bay with a purpose — either transporting people or goods."

"What are some of the most famous ships you owned?"

"The Adventure was 122-foot-long two-masted schooner. I had her for 25 years. We would take 45 passengers out on a venture and they would do all the work. The Stephen Taber is the oldest historic sailing vessel in the United States. I rescued the Bowdoin that had 26 voyages above the Arctic Circle. It is now the flagship of the Maine Maritime Academy in Castine."

Why the museum?

"I wanted a way of paying back the coast of Maine and its people for the great career I have had. We started with one floor. Now we have two floors and a workshop. Fifty percent of the artifacts are mine; another 25 percent is the museum's; and 25 percent is on loan from contributors. I told them why not let other people see these unique artifacts rather than having them gather dust. I wanted something big enough so people will keep it going."

If you have a candidate for Five Questions, email Beth A. Birmingham at bbirmingham@villagesoup.com.

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Staff Profile

Beth Birmingham
Staff Reporter
594-4401 ext. 125
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Beth rejoined Courier Publications' news staff in February 2013. She previously worked at The Courier-Gazette from 1981 to 1990.

Her coverage area includes Warren, Union, Friendship, Waldoboro, Washington, and Thomaston and RSU40.

Beth has a passion for photography, and a degree from the University of Maine at Augusta, in affiliation with the Maine Photographic Workshop in Rockport.

Aside from photography, Beth enjoys running and walks along the waterfront, as well as other outdoor activities. She has a daughter, Claire, who is 14.

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