Boothbay Harbor will host the Nao Santa Maria from Sept. 25 to 29. Yes, that Santa Maria. Local businessman and ship enthusiast Mark Gimbel pulled the strings to bring the ship to Boothbay Harbor on its voyage down half of the East Coast during its 525th anniversary.
Nao Santa Maria will be coming off a long tour of the Great Lakes which started in Green Bay, Wisconsin and included stops in Bay City, Michigan; Sarnia, Ontario; Sandusky, Ohio; Erie, Pennsylvania; Buffalo, New York; Rochester, New York; and Brockville, Ontario. The next leg begins Sept. 7 in Georgetown, Prince Edward Island and will take the vessel to Saint Andrews, New Brunswick, then Portland Sept. 18-22 and Boothbay Harbor Sept. 25-29. The ship will then move on to Provincetown, Massachusetts and will conclude its North American tour with two stops in New York.
“When you have a ship this big – most people when they look online can't grasp the scale,” said Gimbel. “Imagine when it's sitting at the town dock. It’s 161 feet long, sits like 30 feet off the water, then the masts: the tallest one goes up 80 feet. That's gonna be impressive.”
Since securing the Nao Santa Maria for its visit next month, Gimbel has shared the announcement on Facebook and Instagram and has sparked hundreds of shares. He even convinced the ship’s management to keep its evening lighting aboard the ship on until late into the evening. “I always try to think about what I would want to see if I was the average Joe walking around or looking out from my home … People on the east side of the harbor can be sitting in their house or in a restaurant or hotel and they can look out and there's this impressive ship over here on the west side.”
Gimbel said the ship’s management wanted the evening’s deck parties to run from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. like in the big cities, but he explained that most Mainers are in bed by then in late September.
So Gimbel convinced them to hold the deck tours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and to cap the evening fun from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
All the effort to bring the ship in boils down to Boothbay Harbor’s shipbuilding history and the juxtaposition of the impressive history Nao Santa Maria will bring.
Said Gimbel, “We're called the boating capitol of New England and a lot of folks here – everybody from Nat Wilson to naval architects – thinking about the 1400s and a ship like that on the high seas is pretty cool. The curiosity of that is probably the coolest part of it.”
A community deck party will be held Thursday, Sept. 26 from 5 to 7 p.m. To buy tickets, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/santa-maria-in-boothbay-harbor-community-deck-party-tickets-70520714355
All the proceeds will go right to the Santa Maria.