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Historic Columbia sails again

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Eastern Shipbuilding Group of Panama City, Fla., has launched S/Y Columbia, a steel-hulled replica of the historic Gloucester fishing schooner first launched in 1923.

The original Columbia was 141 feet and built at the historic A.D. Story shipyard of Essex, Mass. Designed by William Starling Burgess, Columbia was built for speed. That fall, she challenged S/Y Bluenose, Canada’s legendary schooner, in the International Fishermen’s Cup Races in Halifax. It nearly won.

Tragedy struck on Aug. 24, 1927, near Sable Island, known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic”, where Columbia was lost with all hands in a gale.

Decades later, Brian D’Isernia, owner of Eastern Shipbuilding Group, discovered the original lines plan of the Columbia in the Essex Shipbuilding Museum in Massachusetts. He began the journey of bringing the Columbia back to life.

Working with John W. Gilbert & Associates of Boston, the design was re-engineered with a steel hull instead of wood. An engine room and staterooms were added. Covey Island Boatworks of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, built the rigging and spars. Blocks were fabricated by A. Dauphinee & Sons and all the sails were constructed by Michelle Stevens Sailloft, also from Lunenburg. Teak decking was completed by Teakdecking Systems of Florida.

S/Y Columbia (ESG Hull 981) will undergo outfitting and begin sailing trials this fall. Expect to see her at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show from Oct. 30-Nov. 3.

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