Portland to become schooner haven?
Spirit Of Massachusetts rigging undergoes work at Portland Yacht Services
Starting this fall, Portland Yacht Services (PYS) will be the new home for the offices of Ocean Classroom, an educational foundation that takes middle school, high school and college students on cruises aboard schooners. PYS, located on Portland harbor, is already the temporary home to two of Ocean Classroom's schooners, Spirit of Massachusetts and Westward. The group's third vessel, Harvey Gamage, will also undergo overhaul work at PYS. And that is not the only schooner headed to PYS for work, according to Phineas Sprague, president of PYS, the vessel Amistad will also arrive at the end of October for work. "We're starting to attract bigger boats to Portland Harbor," Sprague said. According to Sprague, PYS and Ocean Classrooms "have been friends for years" and it made sense for Ocean Classrooms to move its office operations down to Portland from Boothbay, Maine. Ocean Classrooms will rent space from the Portland Company Marine Complex, which has 160,000 square feet of floor space on 10 waterfront acres in one of the oldest industrial complexes in Portland.
Sprague and PYS have also been working to attract modern ocean racing sailboats to Portland. One such vessel was Bruce Schwab's Ocean Planet, which was fitted out at PYS prior to the 2005 Vendee Globe. Sprague says that getting modern ocean racers to Portland remains a priority. "We're absolutely still trying to get ocean sailing boats to Portland."
The arrival of these schooners coincides with a major move for PYS, which is scheduled to build a new boatyard at a currently unused site farther up Portland Harbor close to the Casco Bay Bridge. That process is underway and according to Sprague, the yard will be built starting in December and continue into 2013.