ROCKLAND (AP) – After being disabled by rudder damage in rough seas, the tall ship Raw Faith returned Friday to Rockland.

The 81-foot ship, modeled after a 16th-century galleon, was towed to port by the Coast Guard cutter Dependable, which came to its rescue Thanksgiving morning about 50 miles off Portland.

The six crew members aboard the homemade, three-masted vessel were cold but unharmed, said Lt. Cmdr. William Bellatty, a Coast Guard spokesman in Boston.

Four of the crew members were transferred onto the cutter, where Thanksgiving dinner was served.

The Raw Faith did not have good communications equipment when its distress call was made, Bellatty said. When the vessel’s radio eventually died, a Falcon jet from Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod flew out to the ship and dropped a radio by parachute to the crew.

The Raw Faith was put together over a four-year period by George McKay of Addison, his family and friends. McKay’s 25-year-old daughter Elizabeth, who is confined to a wheelchair, inspired the project, which was designed to offer sailing adventures to disabled children and their families.

The builders aimed to combine large flat decks accessible to the handicapped with the charm of a tall ship. The vessel was meant to accommodate up to 30 children and their families, along with a crew of 20.

McKay said the Raw Faith sailed beautifully in a gale and high seas and no water came on deck or inside.

He and his crew ran into problems as they were sailing to New Jersey to pick up other people before heading on to Florida for the winter.

McKay said he remains committed to his mission and plans to get the ship ready to sail again. The project has been sustained for years by donations and church funding.


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