News Feature

Originally published in The Weekly Packet, June 5, 2014
Sailboat launched from Brooklin Boat Yard will aid coastal research efforts

Launch day at Brooklin Boat Yard

A boat lift eases Schoodic toward the water on launch day at Brooklin Boat Yard.

Photo by Rich Hewitt Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Rich Hewitt

The Schoodic Institute recently launched its new Presto 30, a shoal-draft sailboat that will expand opportunities for coastal research in Downeast waters.

The boat, launched in mid-May, was a gift earlier this year from an anonymous donor to the institute which is a non-profit arm of the Schoodic Education and Research Center located on the former naval base in Winter Harbor. The renamed Schoodic has been stored at the Brooklin Boat Yard this year where the crews there have done maintenance and made some improvements to her.

The boat will serve as one more tool to support research on the Schoodic Peninsula, according to Mike Soukup, the institute’s science officer. This type of coastal research will be critical as the ocean environment faces increased pressures, and the new sailboat will add a new dimension that will broaden the research possibilities in the region, he said.

“With the addition of the Research Vessel Schoodic, we will be now able to access the Schoodic Peninsula from a different direction,” he said.

SERC is one of 19 resource learning centers located in national parks around the country, which fosters research within the park setting. The Schoodic Institute serves to support those efforts. While institute staff conducts its own research within the park, the staff also supports research by outside groups that utilize the former navy buildings and conduct their research on and around the Schoodic Peninsula.

The institute plans make the sailboat available to those groups as another platform for them to work from, according to Dianna Emory, a Schoodic Institute board member who, with her husband, Ben, worked to bring Schoodic to the institute.

“This will enable us to get citizen-scientists, students and research scientists out on the water,” she said. “It provides one more way for us to focus on our primary goals of understanding bird ecology, fresh water and ocean ecology and forest ecology.”

The boat is also a draw that provide one more way to draw people to the institute, and to encourage them to learn more about the local ecology and the issues it faces, she said.

The design of the boat, which was built in 2010 at the former Union River Boat Yard in Bucksport, is ideal for the kind of coastal expeditions envisioned by the institute.

The Presto design is a shallow draft boat with just a 13-inch draft with the center board up. According to Steve White, the owner of Brooklin Boat Yard, the Schoodic is capable of being beached because its engine—an outboard motor—sits in a well and can be retracted into the boat.

“You could take it right up into that cove, which you couldn’t do with a lot of these boats out here,” White said. “I think it’s going to work out well for them.”

White serves on the advisory board for the institute, and the boat yard provides the storage and some work on the boat at no charge.

The main work the crews did, he said, was to replace the sail tracks on the mast and beef up the winches to make it easier to raise and lower the masts.

The Schoodic is one of two Presto 30s that were reinforced with a military-grade resin, according to Ben Emory who wrote about the Presto design in a unpublished manuscript he’s working on. The entire bottom has Kevlar molded into it to prevent punctures in a hard grounding.

“She is a tough and simple boat, expertly designed and built, able to carry up to eight people very comfortably in the large cockpit,” Emory wrote. “With her shallow draft yet seaworthiness she will be very versatile in meeting the needs of researcher and student at Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park.”

Emory, who has owned a Presto, was still working recently to solve a problem with the masts. Once that issue has been resolved, the Schoodic will be moved to her new home in Winter Harbor. Once a part-time captain has been hired, she will be ready for service at the institute.