Museum's passion for Persistence unveiled

By Beth A. Birmingham | Aug 15, 2014
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham Meg Sharp christens newly completed Friendship sloop Persistence at its launching Aug. 14 at Sharp's Point in Rockland. Sail, Power & Steam Museum volunteers spent the past three and a half years building the vessel.

Rockland — 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

Capt. Jim Sharp takes the helm of Persistence as he gets ready for its maiden voyage Aug. 14 at Sharp's Point in Rockland. Volunteers of the Sail, Power & Steam Museum built the vessel as a working exhibit at the museum. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Capt. Ken Barnes of Rockland plays the bagpipes as he follows the procession at Persistence's launching ceremony Aug. 14. Following in the golf cart is Capt. Jim Sharp of the Sail, Power & Steam Museum. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Persistence makes its maiden voyage at Sharp's Point in Rockland Aug. 14. The Friendship Sloop was built by volunteers at the Sail, Power & Steam Museum over the course of the last three and a half years. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Into the water goes Friendship sloop Persistence as hundreds of people witness the launching Aug. 14 at Sharp's Point in Rockland. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Capt. Jim Sharp salutes the crowd at the launching of Friendship sloop Persistence Aug. 14. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Comments (1)
Posted by: William Pease | Aug 15, 2014 17:45

Doggone, a perfect addition to this wonderful story would be a listing of the "handful of volunteers" who worked on this beautiful sloop for three and a half years to bring her back to life! They certainly deserve much recognition for many, many hours of hard work with no compensation but the distinction and satisfaction of a beautiful job extremely well done. How about it?

Bill Pease, Lancaster, PA

(but a Rocklander still in my heart)

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