There may be some traffic congestion early Wednesday morning on Commercial Street in Portland when the 125-foot-schooner Spirit of Massachusetts is moved on a trailer down the street to the new Portland Yacht Services shipyard just west of the Casco Bay Bridge.
The move, which begins at 6 a.m. at the former Gowen Marine behind Becky’s Diner, is expected to take an hour. Utility workers will clear overhead utility wires to allow the ship to pass.
The 30-year-old Spirit of Massachusetts is one of three traditional schooners owned by Ocean Classroom Foundation, one of the largest operators of educational sailing vessels in the country. The foundation recently moved its marine operations from Boothbay to Portland and has partnered with Portland Yacht Services as part of a long-term expansion of its fleet and programs.
Portland Yacht Services will restore the vessel as part of the largest traditional ship restoration project completed in Portland in decades. The project will employ professional shipwrights as well as students and apprentices from boat building programs throughout the state, according to Greg Belanger, executive director of Ocean Classroom Foundation.
The foundation has offered a variety of unaccredited and contract programs aboard the Spirit of Massachusetts and its other vessels, Harvey Gamage and Westward. Over the years, about 30,000 students have sailed the Spirit, traveling from Newfoundland to Venezuela and throughout the Caribbean Sea and along the Atlantic Seaboard.