The newly renovated schooner Mary E sails the Kennebec River in 2019, slightly downriver from where she was launched in 1906. Contributed photo via Maine Maritime Museum

The Mary E, a historic schooner owned by the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, capsized on the Kennebec River Friday evening with 15 passengers and three crew members on board.

All passengers and crew were rescued and two people were taken to Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick, Coast Guard Lt. James McDonough said. He didn’t know if the two people were admitted or what their condition was Friday night.

The 73-foot vessel capsized around 5:30 p.m. Friday near Doubling Point Lighthouse in Arrowsic, Bath Chief of Police Andrew Booth said.

The Coast Guard is investigating the incident because as a passenger-carrying vessel it’s inspected by the Coast Guard annually, McDonough said.

He said it’s too early in the investigation to say if weather was a factor. Winds in the area were 10 to 15 knots, but there were some higher gusts.

Everyone on board was rescued by Bath fire and police officers, Bath Iron Works security boats and “a few” nearby vessels, though Booth didn’t know how many.


McDonough said the Mary E. tipped on its side and began to sink, but rescue crews were able to stabilize it. It has been towed to shallow water and likely will be pulled out of the river Saturday, he said.

“At this time we are working to determine what factors may have contributed; we will provide more information as it becomes available,” Maine Maritime Museum spokesperson Katie Spiridakis said. “We are grateful for the rapid response of the crew and the multiple agencies that assisted in quickly bringing those aboard to shore.”

On Friday, the schooner, advertised as “the only Kennebec-built schooner still afloat,” was scheduled for a river cruise from 4-6:30 p.m. that would take passengers past BIW, Doubling Point Lighthouse and the Kennebec Range Lights, according to the museum’s website.

The Mary E. had sailed past BIW on its way upriver when it capsized, McDonough said. It was still within sight of the shipyard when it capsized, he said, and a BIW vessel was the first to reach the site to start rescuing people.

“We commend our partners in the Bath community for their prompt and effective response which saved the lives of 18 people,” Capt. Amy E. Florentine, Coast Guard Sector Northern New England commander, said in an email Friday night. “We will ensure a full and thorough investigation is conducted in order to determine what caused the incident.”

Sea Tow towed the partially submerged vessel to shallow water near the Maine Maritime Museum and it no longer represents a hazard to navigation in the area, Florentine said.


The two-masted schooner was built by Thomas Hagan in 1906 in a Houghton shipyard, where Bath Iron Works now stands. For 38 years the vessel was operated as a fishing and trade vessel out of Rhode Island. The ship was sold in 1944 to become a dragger until it was abandoned in 1960 and sank in Lynn Harbor, Massachusetts, after a hurricane on Thanksgiving 1963.

William Donnell of Bath – whose great-grandfather was a shipbuilder associated with Hagan – bought the vessel in 1965 for $200 and brought it back home for restoration. Following that two-year endeavor, the Mary E became a passenger vessel in the Maine Windjammer Fleet.

Maine Maritime Museum purchased the Mary E in early 2017 for $140,000 and uses it for cruises on the Kennebec River.

Press Herald Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy contributed to this report.

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