Maine Marine Patrol officers met the crew of the Grace Bailey as it docked at Lermond Cove shortly after noon on Monday. The vessel’s mast snapped and fell, killing one passenger and injuring three others. Photo by Stephen Betts

The Grace Bailey, the Maine schooner that earlier this week had a mast snap, killing one person and injuring three others, has had previous accidents, including two last year under a previous captain and owner, according to Coast Guard reports.

The two-masted schooner, built in 1882 and restored in 1990, was about a mile east of Rockland Harbor at about 10 a.m. Monday when the top of the rear mast split and fell, striking several people. Dr. Emily Mecklenburg, 40, of Rockland, was declared dead when she was brought ashore by a Coast Guard boat following the accident.

Mecklenburg was one of 33 people aboard the Grace Bailey, which was returning from a sold-out, four-night foliage cruise.

The demasting was the Grace Bailey’s first known fatal accident, but the schooner has had a handful of reportable maritime incidents. The previous incidents occurred when it was under a different owner and a different captain.

The Rockland-based windjammer struck another schooner, the American Eagle, while attempting to anchor in Rockland Harbor July 8, 2022, according to Coast Guard reports.

The Grace Bailey’s jib boom pierced the other boat’s mainsail, ripping through 12 panels and damaging a network of lines used to support the mainsail and the main boom, causing substantial damage, the report said. The Grace Bailey’s jib boom broke and fell into the water, breaking a number of lines and rigging.


The jib boom is used to extend the bowsprit at the front or bow of the ship. The bowsprit acts as securing points for lines to support the foremast.

The accident caused an estimated $100,000 worth of damage.

Just four days before, on July 4, the Grace Bailey ran aground off of Scott’s Island near Stonington. The crew waited until high tide and refloated approximately 11 hours later, anchoring in Stonington Harbor early the next morning. There was minor, superficial damage to the keel that did not require repair, the report said. The boat had run aground three years prior in August 2019  on Cross Island Ledge in Penobscot Bay with 20 passengers aboard. The boat sustained about $12,000 worth of damage.

Following last summer’s incidents, the ship was repaired and recertified by the Coast Guard in July 2022 and according to Coast Guard documents, its most recent inspection certificate expires in June 2027.

The failure or snapping in half of a schooner mast, when neither bad weather nor a collision is involved, is an extremely rare event, according to Jim Sharp, who runs the Sail, Power and Steam Museum in Rockland.

Sharp told the Portland Press Herald that he was not aware of another time in his years of sailing when a mast failed on its own while the ship was under sail.


He said the cause of such a failure would likely be rot created by fresh water from the rain getting into the wood at certain points along the mast, including where the metal wires that support the masts are attached. He said regular maintenance is required to repair and seal any areas where fresh water can get into the wood. Sharp estimated that the Grace Bailey’s masts are about 75 feet high.

The Coast Guard began investigating the accident Monday. Officials on Wednesday had no new information to report and said there is no timeline for the investigation.

Nicole Jacques, spokesperson for the Maine Windjammer Association, declined to answer questions about the demasting or how it may have happened.

“Offering any conjecture or misleading information about why or how this happened would be very irresponsible when the USCG hasn’t completed its investigation,” she said in an email.

The Grace Bailey was built in Patchogue, New York, in 1882 by Oliver Perry Smith and restored in 1990. It was named for owner Edwin Bailey’s daughter, according to the ship’s website. In 1906, the ship was rebuilt and renamed for Mr. Bailey’s granddaughter, Martha, who was nicknamed Mattie. From 1906 until 1990, the schooner sailed using the name Mattie, but in the spring of 1990, after the restoration, the original name was used again.

This story was updated at 8 a.m. Thursday to clarify ownership of the vessel.

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