Columbus replica ship draws visitors to Bucksport after remainder of tour canceled

Nao Santa Maria docked in Bucksport, Maine on Monday, July 12, 2021.
Nao Santa Maria docked in Bucksport, Maine on Monday, July 12, 2021.(WABI)
Published: Jul. 12, 2021 at 5:58 PM EDT
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BUCKSPORT, Maine (WABI) - The replica of a ship sailed by Christopher Columbus will be leaving Bucksport Wednesday morning after protests canceled the remainder of its tour up the Penobscot.

Holly Azevedo was there touring the ship with her husband Art.

“My thought was what a great piece of maritime history. I honestly did not think about Christopher Columbus when I bought the tickets,” Holly said.

The Nao Santa Maria is continuing to offer tours while it is in Bucksport, and crowds have flocked to the vessel to admire it. David Holmes says the cancellation of the trip to Bangor is a shame.

“I actually am a sailor myself, and I really appreciate the work that goes into the sailing vessels of old, and it’s really awesome to see how they work,” said Holmes.

Bella Koppes and her cousin Evan Koppes, both 11, were excited to look around the unique looking vessel.

“We heard about the boat in school, and we were really interested in it, so we thought we’d come out today,” said Bella.

“We did a little project about it on a poster board.” Eva said. “After you learn about it, it’s cool to see it in person.”

The tours were mostly self-guided with informational plaques and videos primarily focused on the construction of the ship and what it was like for the sailors onboard.

David Weeda with Solidarity Bucksport stood near the ship reading every 15 minutes the statement put out by the Penobscot Nation.

“To have a ship that symbolizes the genocide of Indigenous people desecrating our homeland is unacceptable and a violation..,” Weeda read.

Weeda is not a member of the Penobscot Nation, but felt it was important to share their message.

“Anybody could choose to read it aloud, and I’m glad that I’ve taken the time to do it today,” said Weeda.

He explains the original Santa Maria has no ties to the state or its maritime history but does represent the start of centuries of violence and heartache for Indigenous populations.

“If we’re trying to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the statehood of Maine, there are so many other choices to have been made,” said Weeda.

Art and Holly enjoyed their tour of the ship. Art is a former sailor and says he was glad he got to see it. But they also listened to the protestors.

“I agree that in thinking about it and hearing the protests that this ship is not really an appropriate ship to celebrate Maine’s bicentennial,” said Holly.

“Our goal is to bring people into the reality of what looking at this ship triggers for so many of our Indigenous people that have suffered at the hands of colonialism for generations,” said Weeda.

The Nao Santa Maria will continue to offer tours while it is in port, and it’s unclear where the ship will head next.

The crew of the ship has declined to comment on the situation saying they plan to release a statement soon.

Three other ships were also scheduled to make similar tours.

The Coast Guard cutter Abbie Burgess has also canceled.

Maine Maritime Academy’s training ship the Schooner Bowdoin will not come to Bangor. School officials say it will continue on its current training mission.

No word yet on if the University of Maine’s 3D printed boat 3Dirigo will go ahead with it’s planned visit.

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