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Is it a schooner?

Jan 1, 2003

IS IT A SCHOONER or a navigation school? Ocean Navigator's 88-foot training vessel, Ocean Star, is currently mid-way through her fourth year of service and is fulfilling her mission exactly as hoped.

The steel-hulled, schooner-rigged vessel has been busy year-round as she works through her schedule, her range extending from Maine and Canada in summer months to Florida and waters south during winter.

For example, this year the schooner will be sailing to Bermuda three times, to Grand Cayman Island twice, and to Sable Island (east of Halifax) twice. The schedule encompasses the entire eastern seaboard and a fair amount of water beyond. Ocean Star also does an annual stint at the Annapolis Boat Show in October and is a familiar sight on the waterfront here in Portland, Maine, in July and August.

As of mid-summer, Ocean Star had conducted 65 week-long training missions involving 384 navigation students since her launch in April, 1991. We estimate the vessel sails about 10,000 miles a year. A typical sailing price seems to average about $200 a day, including instruction, food, berthing, and all associated costs except travel to and from the boat. Offshore trips to foreign ports are typically about $250 per day.

The instructional program hasn't changed one bit over the years. The schooner is totally dedicated to the teaching of celestial navigation and a full range of piloting techniques, including dead reckoning, piloting by visual bearings, proper chartwork, and the use of radar for both navigation and collision avoidance. With few exceptions, Ocean Star gets underway only for these navigation training missions.

The vessel is constructed with five watertight compartments and she carries two emergency diesel/gas firefighting and bilge pumping engines. For propulsion, Ocean Star is powered by a 200-hp Caterpillar diesel.

SPEAKING OF LARGE YACHTS, it appears as though President Clinton is not, repeat not, spending $65 million for the refurbishment of a presidential yacht in Italy.

The former presidential yacht, Williamsburg, famous for its service to Harry Truman, has indeed arrived in Italy for a multi-year restoration project, but it is all being financed by European investors and private owners. The 244-foot vessel is expected to be returned to service eventually in the luxury charter business. President Clinton, despite frequent news reports to the contrary, seems to have nothing to do with it, although he likely wouldn't object to a luxury charter or two during his second term in office.


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