The 96-foot Timberwind in Portland Harbor on Friday. Portland Schooner Co. will offer two-hour day and sunset cruises.

A two-masted schooner that was built in Portland Harbor 87 years ago and served as the city’s pilot boat for nearly four decades has returned home.

The 96-foot Timberwind sailed down the coast Friday morning from Belfast to Portland.

It could start offering harbor cruises and charter trips as soon as next weekend, said Michelle Thresher, who with her husband, Scott Reischmann, owns Portland Schooner Co., the Timberwind’s new owner.

“We had been thinking about expanding for the last couple years and when this opportunity came up, we just figured this is where the boat needs to be,” Thresher said Friday.

The Timberwind had been owned by Maine Day Sail of Belfast since 2015. It now joins two other boats in Portland Schooner Co.’s fleet, the Bagheera and the Wendameen, each of which has a rich history, too.

The Timberwind was built in 1931 by Victor Cole at Union Wharf in Portland. For nearly four decades, until 1969, it was named the Portland Pilot and was responsible for meeting incoming vessels outside the harbor and piloting them to their berths. It also briefly was commandeered for service by the Coast Guard during World War II.

It was sold and moved to Rockport in 1971 and operated as a passenger vessel there until 2015, when it was seized through bank foreclosure from its then-owners, Robert and Dawn Tassi.

Jon Finger and Anne Mahle bought the boat and moved it up Penobscot Bay to Belfast, where they offered day cruises and charter services.

The two also operate another vessel, the J&E Riggin, which offers popular three-, four- or six-day cruises that include meals.

A 1931 Press Herald clipping shows the vessel on the ways at Brown’s Wharf.

A post last month on the Facebook page for the Timberwind broke the news of the sale. Many people posted that they were saddened to see the boat leave Belfast.

Jackson Winslow with the Belfast harbormaster office agreed that its departure is disappointing.

“It was a nice sight to see every day. Unique,” he said. “I think everyone is a little disappointed but also glad to see that it’s returning home.”

Thresher said it was indeed hard to uproot the boat, but the fact that people in Belfast will miss it only speaks to how beloved it is. In 1992, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places, which is rare for a boat.

The two-masted Timberwind, in Portland on Friday, guided boats to their berths for nearly four decades before being moved to Rockport for use as a passenger vessel and then to Belfast to offer day cruises and charter services.

“We are really excited about bringing Timberwind back to her home port of Portland. This vessel is important because it is a rare maritime artifact; it’s a preserved chapter, if you will, of the history of Portland’s working waterfront,” Thresher said. “We are proud to be her next steward and the keeper of her story.”

Nick Mavodones, operations manager for Casco Bay Lines and a Portland city councilor, said he was too young to remember the Timberwind when it was here. But he said plenty of old pilots used to talk about it and tell stories of sailing out in the harbor in all kinds of weather.

“I think it’s great to have it back,” he said. “Its connection to Portland and its history make it a real attraction. I have to give Portland Schooner credit for seizing that opportunity.”

Thresher and her husband started Portland Schooner Co. in 2002 at the Maine State Pier with the launch of the Bagheera, a 72-foot two-masted schooner built in 1924 in East Boothbay by well-known architect John G. Alden. They added a second schooner, the 88-foot Wendameen, three years later. That ship was built in 1912, also in East Boothbay and also by Alden. Like the Timberwind, both boats are on the national historic register.

Thresher said the company weathered some lean times during the recession but she is buoyed by the renewed interest in Portland’s waterfront in recent years.

The schedule for the Timberwind has not been determined but it will include two-hour day and sunset cruises and even some overnight options.

The boat has a capacity of 45 for day sails and 26 for overnight trips.

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: PPHEricRussell

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