Schooner Olad sets sail for 2014 season
Camden — The unofficial start of the day-sailing season on the Midcoast got underway May 8 as the Schooner Olad made its return voyage to Camden after a winter's slumber at Knight's Marine Service in Rockland.
Traditionally one of the first day-sailers ready to embark on the upcoming season, Captain and owner Aaron Lincoln is ready to take the helm of the Olad for his ninth year.
“A lot has changed since I first bought the boat, at first it was a lot of financial stress and the stress of getting to know the other captains -- gaining some sort of acceptance,” Lincoln said. “Now, outside of having to pay the bills, I can sit back and really enjoy what I do.”
Prior to leaving Rockland Harbor, the long-standing tradition of Lincoln buying the crew Wasses Hot Dogs as a pre-sail feast carried on as usual.
Lincoln said a former mate on the Olad expressed some displeasure regarding the lack of celebration after launching the schooner a few years back.
“He asked me what I could afford to by the crew for a feast and I told him I had enough to buy them a hot dog – so the tradition began,” Lincoln said with a smile.
Another more recently-adopted tradition is a toast to the sea and the ship, a nautical custom. Lincoln chooses to toast with rum, to please the sailing gods.
“There is a brief moment when you can align the Owls Head Light and the Breakwater Light House and once you cross it, you are out of the harbor,” Lincoln said as he climbed out on the bow. “Then I take some of this rum and pour a drink into the sea and one to the ship.”
The Olad made its way out of Rockland and headed to the open seas of Penobscot Bay with a bearing toward Islesboro, then on to Camden.
“She is such a fun boat to sail,” Lincoln said. “She loves to have her rails in the water, that's why I like these trips because you can't really do that with 22 people on board.”
Lincoln said the 47-foot schooner loves to sail at about 8 knots (approximately 9.5 mph), and this early in the season, he and the crew get to “stretch her legs.”
“I don't get to do this very often because of all of the other boat traffic during the busy time of the season and the number of passengers we have, so we look forward to this trip every year,” Lincoln said. “We also get to enter Camden Harbor under sail, which we can only do a few times a year because there are less boats there as well.”
On board for the first sail of the 2014 season were Lincoln, Matt Epperson, Andy Gardiner, Dana Crane, Mike Bridges, Jeff Beck, Chrissy Shyne and Susie Cooke.
The Horace Manley Sr.-designed Olad was built in 1927 by Crosby Yacht Building in Massachusetts and was originally christened the “Whistle Binkie.”
In the 1940s, a new owner, Charles H. Mason III, bought the schooner and renamed it the Olad. During the next 40 years the Olad served as a private yacht, a charter boat and the training ground for Mason's wife, Janice, who was an Olympic skeet shooter and found the Olad was an ideal place to practice.
From the early 1960s until 1985 the Olad was part of the Provincetown, Mass., day-sailing fleet until John Nugent bought it and brought the Olad to Camden.
After a complete overhaul in the 1990s, to bring the schooner back to the majestic ship it had once been, Nugent re-launched the Olad in July of 2000. Lincoln began working on the Olad that summer and purchased the schooner in 2005.
The Olad sails daily from Camden and operates from Memorial Day weekend to mid-October. The schooner offers historic two-hour cruises of Penobscot Bay as well as custom charters for up to 22 passengers.
Dwight Collins is a reporter/photographer for The Camden Herald.
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