After three and a half years of volunteer time and muscle, the Sail, Power & Steam Museum in Rockland launched Persistence Aug. 14.

A resounding "hip, hip, hooray" was shouted out by several hundred onlookers as the vessel made its way into the water at Sharp's Point, while Capt. Jim Sharp saluted the Friendship sloop and his wife Meg christened it with the traditional cracking of champagne on the bow.

Construction of the 28-foot sloop was started in 1966 by the late Carlton Simmons of Friendship. However, Simmons had to abandon the project due to his wife's health, according museum volunteer Tom Hammermeister.

The project sat in a field for 10 years until John Lichtman spotted it on a visit from Oregon and purchased it in 1976. Building homes and family prevented him from continuing construction on the vessel, which then sat in his barn untouched for about 30 years, according to a flier provided at the launching ceremony.

Lichtman donated the vessel to the museum in September 2011, after being approached by Capt. Sharp of the museum. The boat became a working exhibit for visitors to see a boat under construction, according to the flier.

A handful of volunteers worked on the vessel — aptly named Persistence — every Tuesday and Thursday for the next three and a half years. The museum received a donation of a 1923 Friendship sloop Eagle, that had been abandoned at Spruce Head Marine, according to the flier.

The mast, sails and boom were among some of the parts used from the Eagle, and the rigging on the Persistence is "bigger than would normally be on this size boat," said Hammermeister, because the Eagle was slightly larger.

Persistence was fitted with an electric motor which allows for more room in the cockpit, according the Hammermeister. In the late 1800s and early 1900s the sloops commonly ran under diesel power and were used for lobster fishing.

Hammermeister said the museum will use Persistence to take visitors out to show them how lobster fishing under sail was done back in the day.

Volunteers who worked on Persistence along with Hammermeister were Charlie Witherell, Marshall Merriam, John Holliday, Rolly James, Dale Woodworth, Lou Grant, Scott Woodman, and Robert Gunther.

Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at bbirmingham@courierpublicationsllc.com.