Rockland museum needs help saving a sloop

ROCKLAND, Maine (WABI) - Saving the sloop.

It's a big part of Maine's maritime history and once a common possession for folks on the coast.

One group in Rockland is on a mission to preserve it.

"Most of this vessel is put together by a stand of white oak that came from Friendship," says Captain Jim Sharp.

Blackjack is a Friendship sloop named for the town in Maine she was made in around the turn of the 20th century.

"118-year-old Friendship sloop built by Wilbur Morse, the builder of the fantastic Friendships. He built over 500 vessels in his career from 1901 to 1903. Wilbur Morse launched a Friendship sloop every two weeks," says Sharp.

"The Friendship sloops were made for lobstering before power," says Tom Hammermeister, volunteer coordinator.

Helping to bring Blackjack back to life are several self-proclaimed boat lovers. It's all part of the Sail, Power and Steam Museum Captain Jim Sharp began ten years ago.

"We're all boat addicts around here," says Sharp.

Sharp is working with a team of volunteers to restore the sloop they found in Massachusetts.

"It's a thrill to work on a vessel like this. This is so much a part of the history of Maine. Back in the 19th century, these Friendship sloops were the pick-up truck of the age. Everybody had a Friendship sloop," says Sharp.

"I've been around boats since I was about 10 years old, so I call myself a boat-a-holic," says Hammermeister.

Tom Hammermeister is the museum volunteer coordinator.

"We'd like to get it finished, obviously, but at the same time it's an awesome exhibit of the museum, so people can come and see a wooden boat under construction the way they used to build boats before they discovered fiberglass," he says.

They say they've had a lot of help so far with donations and volunteers, but they need volunteers to help with things like wire splicing the rigging.

"The standing rigging that holds up the mast and all is wire rope. That's a very specific skill to learn to splice that and do it the old way." says Hammermeister.

For those who donate $100 or more, they get their name carved inside the floating museum. Just one piece of Maine history these men are on a mission to preserve.

"The idea is to get it completed and then have a captain that will take people out for a couple of hours at a time and haul traps under sail like they did before power," says Hammermeister.

"I hope that I'll be around to go sailing in her because she's a dream," says Sharp.

If you'd like to donate or volunteer you can contact them at the museum on 75 Mechanic Street in Rockland, call them at 701-7627 or email them at sailpowersteammuseum.org.