Maine’s First Ship
27 Commercial Street
When did you begin the enterprise? (and where if not Bath)
Maine’s First Ship began as the Virginia Project in Phippsburg in 1997.
To commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Popham colony, founded at the mouth of the Kennebec in 1607. The colony only lasted a year but during their stay, colonists built the pinnace Virginia, a wooden ship that sailed back to England and then successfully sailed to its sister colony Jamestown in 1609. We are recreating Virginia to be a symbol and celebration of the Bath area’s 400 years of ship buildling. When she is finished, she will grace the riverside, provide educational and cultural opportunities for visitors near and far, and sail along the midcoast and up the river.
What do you offer?
A Visitor Center in the Bath Freight Shed that offers historical background and artifacts from the time period – the archeology and the shipbuilding tradition – as well as information on the current shipbuilding project. Behind the building, we are recreating Virginia. Visitors can see the exhibit and the ship free of charge. Shipwrights are there working on Wednesdays and Saturdays, finishing up the planking and constructing the rigging. We also offer regular programs such as Women’s Shipbuilding Day in November, an annual lecture series on 17th and 18th century cultural and maritime history and an annual New Year’s Eve party and bonfire. Volunteer opportunities abound: they are needed to work on the ship, to become tour guides, to help plan events.
Why do you love Bath?
From the library to the maritime museum, from the architecture to the parks, and most of all the people of Bath, it’s a wonderful place to live and work, and we are lucky to be building a wooden ship along the shores of the Kennebec. Bath attracts visitors and volunteers from everywhere.
What might surprise someone about you or your business?
Hidden away in our ugly plastic shed is the wonder of a wooden ship being built as it has been done in Maine for centuries, and which visitors can come right up to and touch.??What are you excited about in the coming year?
We’re excited that we are seeing the light at the end of the planking tunnel and will be starting to work on Virginia’s deck structure.
What favorite local non-profits do you support?
Maine Maritime Museum, Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, Bath Farmers Market