The eastern-rig dragger Roann attended the 10th annual Working Waterfront Festival in New Bedford, Mass., September 28-29. According to a press release, the free festival was a “celebration of New England’s commercial fishing industry, features live maritime and ethnic music, fishermen’s contests, fresh seafood, vessel tours, author readings, cooking demonstrations, kids’ activities and more.” The event was held on three working piers in New Bedford and waterfront parks in the city.
Built in 1947, Roann sustained three New England fishing families for 50 years. Powered by a diesel engine, and dragging a large conical fishnet along the seabed, Roann and her crew caught groundfish throughout the waters of southern New England. Her fish hold could keep approximately 55,000 pounds of iced fish.
Roann was acquired by Mystic Seaport in 1997, complete with food in the galley and trawling gear on deck. She now rests at the Museum and allows visitors the chance to see a piece of New England fishing culture before it moved into a new era of steel hulls, regulated catches and GPS technology.
Roann‘s journey from Mystic Seaport to New Bedford will be the vessel’s first major voyage since she was launched in 2008 after a three-year restoration. The project included reframing and replanking the dragger, along with interior, mechanical, and deck work. All of the vessel’s frames and planks were steam-bent and arranged as they originally were when she first entered the water in 1947, both maintaining the vessel’s historic integrity and preserving her for future generations.
Additional vessels displayed at the festival included a steel-hulled dragger, a scalloper, a deep sea clammer, a tug boat, a Stonington dragger, and a Beetle whaleboat. The whaleboat was built this spring by the Beetle Boat Shop of Wareham, Mass., in collaboration with the New Bedford Whaling Museum, for the Charles W. Morgan restoration project.
Roann will return to New Bedford in 2014 as part of the support vessels for the Morgan‘s 38th Voyage. Along with the tugboat Thuban, Roann will shadow the whaleship as she moves from port to port on her journey from Mystic and New London to Boston and back. She will transport staff and equipment and act as a photo platform for Museum documentary crews and other media.