Three Groundings by Portland Schooner Co. Concerns Commissioners; Input Sought to Insure Safe Navigation in Port

Lt. Mason Wilcox, Chief of Investigations Division Sector, northern New England, USCG.”][/caption]

Chairman Thomas W. Dobbins, of the Board of Harbor Commissioners

By Carol McCracken (Post # 868)

This afternoon the Board of Harbor Commissioners met with Lt. Mason Wilcox, marine investatgator for the U.S. Coast Guard, to discuss implementing a program to insure safe navigation of vessels within the Port of Portland. The reason for the need to implement such a program was the groundings on three different occasions of two schooners – both owned by the Portland Schooner Co.

Last fall the Bagheera went aground and this summer the Wendameen has gone aground twice. The Bagheera grounding has been resolved and the Wendameen groundings are still pending. Lt. Wilcox could not talk publicly about those two cases because of that fact. However, all three groundings were outside the navigational channels in the harbor. As one Commissioner said – people doing that have no business being at the helm of a schooner. Committee chair Thomas W. Dobbins said there are a large number of tour boats on the Portland waterfront. And there is no oversight for these boats.

A lack of knowledge of the waters of Casco Bay was given as the primary reason for the groundings. People just hired are often not familiar with the waters before they are put to work. Large companies have their own internal training programs. Casco Bay Lines hires people who often start at the bottom of the ladder and work their way up after becoming familiar with Casco Bay navigation.

Dan Haley said a company that keeps going aground will not stay in business. “Portland is a small place.”

Chairman Dobbins intends to start meeting with business owners to get feedback on how to implement such a program.

Both schooners are docked at the Maine State Pier, 56 Commercial Street, Portland. See portlandschooner.com 207 766-2500