Schooner Mary Day celebrates 50th anniversary
CAMDEN — The schooner Mary Day celebrated its 50th birthday at the Camden Windjammer Festival. Captains Barry King and Jennifer Martin hosted a party for the vessel, inviting previous passengers, media and the windjammer community. Throughout its 50 years, Mary Day has brought more than 20,000 guests along Maine's schooner coast, sailing over 150,000 miles.
The 90-foot schooner was designed by Havilah "Buds" Hawkins Sr. as the first schooner built exclusively to carry passengers along Maine's coast. When Mary Day was first designed, most windjammers were former commercial vessels that carried a variety of cargoes throughout New England. After owning the schooners Stephen Taber and Alice Wentworth, Hawkins started from scratch and designed Mary Day specifically with passenger comfort in mind. In 1962, Hawkins launched Mary Day, named after Hawkins' wife, from the Harvey F. Gamage Shipyard in South Bristol, making it the first commercial coasting schooner launched in the second half of the 20th century.
Captains King and Martin are the third set of caretakers of the Mary Day. Mary Day is one of the 13 vessels in the Maine Windjammer Association that carry passengers for three-, four- or six-day cruises up and down the Maine Coast between Rockland, Camden, Rockport and Mt. Desert Island.
"I know I wouldn't be here was it not for all of the people who keep this entire fleet alive. This fleet really has something quite remarkable going on. Nowhere else in the world is there a fleet like this and the other vessel owners,” said Captain King. “There are a whole lot of people who give this whole coast a definition that doesn't exist anywhere else and Mary Day only has context within the context of the fleet."
David Andrews from the South Bristol Historical Society set the stage by explaining the historical context during which Mary Day was both designed and built. Hawkins' sons and former owners of Mary Day, Haddie and Ronnie Hawkins, were present at the event and spoke about the family heritage and the windjammer business. Former owner Steve Cobb also shared several words about the windjammer fleet and how Captains King and Martin have continued to honor Mary Day's rich history.
New Jersey native and Mary Day passenger Curt Watts was the final speaker for day. Watts and his wife have been sailing aboard Mary Day since 1995. With plans to pursue only one trip, and then to "cross it off the bucket list and move on," Watts has yet to move on and has sailed aboard the schooner every season since.
"The fact that Barry and Jen asked me to get up here really speaks highly of how they prize the passengers; the boat is so important and yet they take time to recognize all of the people that have had the privilege and honor of sailing on the Mary Day," Watts said.
The event concluded with Captains King and Martin unveiling the surprise 50th anniversary present for Mary Day, a six-foot hand-carved eagle attached to its transom. The eagle was carved by Don Dodd of South Blue Hill and gilded by Capt. Martin and her crew. The eagle was christened Belle after John Haley Bellamy, a wood carver from Kittery who made Bellamy eagles.
For more information, visit www.schoonermaryday.com.
Courier Publications news staff can be reached by phone at 207-594-4401 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.