MOUNT DESERT, Maine -- The vessel Sunbeam V, after more than two decades of constant, year-round service needs some major repairs if it's to continue its mission to serve Maine's remote island communities, says Maine Seacoast Mission, which oversees the Sunbeam's operations.
"In boat years, the Sunbeam is 23 and that makes her middle-aged," says Maine Seacoast Mission president, Scott Planting.
Maine Seacoast Mission has ministered to island communities, from Great Cranberry to Monhegan, for more than 100 years. The vessel is the fifth incarnation of the ship that delivers health care and aid, as well as a floating social space and cafe for islanders. The Sunbeam has also been called upon to use her bulk to break ice for stranded lobster and mail boats in the depths of winter.
But Planting says the Sunbeam's hull has begun to rust from the inside out.
"So we were making a decision at this place in her life. Do we refit the boat or do we replace the boat? And after a pretty extensive survey of the boat, we made the decision to do a major overhaul."
In addition to sandblasting the rust away and repainting the 74-foot hull, Planting says the vessel's crew quarters, furnace, and generators will also need to be refurbished or replaced. The project must be completed, says Planting; the boat is just too important.
"I can't go anywhere on the coast of Maine without somebody stopping me to say you know 'my grandfather was on that boat' or 'I was from Swans Island and I had some needs as a kid and you helped us out.' So it's a very heartfelt sense when you're out on the islands and people see the boat."
Currently, the Mission has raised $1.25 million dollars of the $1.5 million needed to complete the repairs.