Shenandoah left Vineyard Haven this morning, under tow by the 65-foot, Fairhaven based tug Jaguar, Capt. Charles Mitchell, for Boothbay, Maine. Capt. Robert S. Douglas' 108-foot Vineyard Haven schooner, launched in 1964 from the Harvey Gamage Shipyard in South Bristol, Maine, is in line to get a 43-year checkup and overhaul at the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard. Captain Douglas, aboard Shenandoah, which has no auxiliary power of her own, has powered up coal stoves to keep the schooner's crew warm during the tow. The route will be through Woods Hole and the Cape Cod Canal. From the east end of the canal, it's about a 16-hour steam to the shipyard in Boothbay, according to Captain Mitchell.
Apart from regular annual maintenance, generally undertaken at D.N.Kelley Shipyard in Fairhaven, Shenandoah has not undergone extensive repair since her launching. She has operated every year since her launching, carrying as many as 31 passengers on week-long cruises in Southeastern New England waters, recently almost exclusive groups of young people, including students from Island elementary schools. She also cruised in Maine during the 1970s. Whenever Shenandoah has been under sail, she's been under Captain Douglas' command. Captain Douglas is also responsible for her design, an adaptation of an 1830s American revenue cutter named Joe Lane, and he supervised her construction.
Shenandoah, called an extreme clipper schooner with square sails on her foremast, and Alabama, a slightly smaller fore and aft rigged schooner, are both operated out of Vineyard Haven by Coastwise Packet Company. Coastwise Packet and Black Dog Tavern enterprises are owned by Captain Douglas and his family.
Boothbay Harbor Shipyard, formerly Sample's Shipyard, was founded more than 135 years ago, according to its website. Continuing a long shipbuilding tradition, the yard specializes in the maritime skills and trades that made New England famous. Its 700-ton marine railway has held tall ships, tugboats, fishing trawlers, Coast Guard vessels and other service craft such as passenger boats and ferries. The 150-ton railway has accommodated sailing yachts, workboats, schooners and motor vessels.
David Stimson, for several years a Vineyarder before moving to Maine, is general manager of the Boothbay yard. For more than 35 years he has designed, built and restored wooden boats ranging from catboats to larger scale passenger vessels. He's also a writer whose work has appeared in marine publications.