The Mary E, a schooner built in Bath in 1906, floats on its side as crews work to stabilize the vessel and get all the passengers off safely. Photo courtesy of Paul Kalkstein

The Mary E, a historic schooner owned by Bath’s Maine Maritime Museum owns, was righted Sunday and returned to the museum after capsizing in the Kennebec River. However, the investigation into what caused the boat to spill its 18 passengers Friday continues.

Maine Maritime Museum Chief Curator and Director of External Affairs Christopher Timm declined to comment on what caused the boat to capsize, the condition of the vessel, whether the museum believes it needs repairs or who was captaining the schooner when it capsized.

“We are in the process of fully assessing the vessel’s condition, and any needed work, over the next few days,” Timm wrote in an email to The Times Record Monday. “Sea Tow and the Coast Guard coordinated yesterday to ensure that the vessel was sound to transfer to the museum dock.”

Coast Guard Petty Officer Briana Carter said she didn’t know how long the investigation into what caused the E to capsize is expected to take or what damage the boat sustained, but said “it was waterlogged when it was refloated.”

Bruce White, captain and co-owner of Sea Tow, the company that helped rescue passengers and tow the Mary E back to the museum, declined to comment on the boat’s condition Monday.

The 73-foot vessel capsized around 5:30 p.m. Friday near Doubling Point Lighthouse in Arrowsic, Bath Chief of Police Andrew Booth said.


All passengers and crew were rescued and two people were taken to Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick, Coast Guard Lt. James McDonough said.

The Mary E, a historic Bath-built schooner, returned to the Maine Maritime Museum Sunday after capsizing on the Kennebec River with 1 people on board last Friday, according to the museum. Photo courtesy of the Maine Maritime Museum

On Saturday, the museum wrote on its Facebook page: “Yesterday was a difficult day for the Maine Maritime Museum family. The schooner Mary E suffered a knockdown off Doubling Point Light on the Kennebec River, just downriver from the museum.”

A knock down is a colloquial term to describe when a boat is tipped on its side, either by wind or a wave, about 90 degrees to the point where its sails or masts are in the water.

Winds in the area at the time were 10-15 knots — about 11-17 mph — with some higher gusts.

Paul Kalkstein, an Arrowsic resident who lives near Doubling Point Lighthouse, took his boat out to see if the Mary E needed help after his neighbor called to tell him about the capsized schooner.

“When I arrived, the Sea Tow boat and the BIW security boat were there,” Kalkstein said. “The Bath police boat was the last boat to arrive on the scene. The other two boats — the Sea Tow boat and the Bath Iron Works security boat — had picked up all the passengers.”


Kalkstein said he didn’t see the boat capsize. By the time he arrived, the boat’s masts were in the river, but rescue crews had stabilized the boat to keep it from rolling more or sinking entirely.

“I’m a retired English teacher and the first thing I thought of when I saw it was the scene in Moby Dick when the boat sinks,” he said. “It was a very scary time, but more than scared, I was sad. It was sad to see a boat that so much love has gone into restoring it capsized like that. I didn’t fear for the passengers because they were all wearing life jackets.”

Kalkstein estimated the rescue efforts took about 25 minutes. All the while, he stayed nearby in case anyone needed help, but found “the best thing I could do was pick up the flotsam from the boat, which was mostly life jackets and bags.”

On Friday, the schooner, advertised as “the only Kennebec-built schooner still afloat,” was scheduled for a river cruise from 4-6:30 p.m. that would take passengers past BIW, Doubling Point Lighthouse and the Kennebec Range Lights, according to the museum’s website.

The Mary E. had sailed past Bath Iron Works on its way upriver when it capsized, McDonough said. It was still within sight of the shipyard when it capsized, he said, and a BIW vessel was the first to reach the site to start rescuing people.

Kalkstein said the area where the boat capsized can be difficult to navigate because it “has terrible cross-currents and when you round Doubling Point, there can be terrible wind gusts.”

The two-masted schooner was built by Thomas Hagan in 1906 in a Houghton shipyard, where Bath Iron Works now stands. For 38 years the vessel was operated as a fishing and trade vessel out of Rhode Island. The ship was sold in 1944 to become a dragger until it was abandoned in 1960 and sank in Lynn Harbor, Massachusetts, after a hurricane on Thanksgiving 1963.

William Donnell of Bath – whose great-grandfather was a shipbuilder associated with Hagan – bought the vessel in 1965 for $200 and brought it back home for restoration. Following that two-year endeavor, the Mary E became a passenger vessel in the Maine Windjammer Fleet.

Maine Maritime Museum purchased the Mary E in early 2017 for $140,000 and uses it for cruises on the Kennebec River.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.