After nearly 20 months out of the water for restoration in the Shipyard, steamboat Sabino was launched early in the morning Wednesday, July 27. She previously had been staged on the shiplift and once the motors were engaged she was lowered into the water in a process that took around 15 minutes. She floated off her stands at 8:29 a.m.
Prior to the launch, Mystic Seaport President Steve White addressed the gathered staff and volunteers to thank those who had worked on the project and to announce that the Museum had begun the design process for a new boiler.
“If all goes well, we expect Sabino will again be steaming on the Mystic River next summer,” he said. He noted that fundraising continues and encouraged anyone who would like to support the effort to return the vessel to operation to contact the Museum’s Advancement Department.
Sabino is still missing her canopy top, pilot house, stack, and engine, so she looks somewhat cut down at present. Since the boiler project is moving forward faster than expected, those parts will not be re-installed until the new boiler is fabricated and delivered. Installation of the boiler requires it to be lowered through a “soft patch” in the top deck (a section of the deck that can be removed much like a hatch) and the canopy would have to be removed as well. The Shipyard staff determined it made more sense to hold off on that work until the boiler was ready so there would not be unnecessary duplication of effort. Thus, Sabino will remain in the Shipyard until the project is complete and she is ready to resume operation.
Sabino was built in 1908 in East Boothbay, ME, and spent most of her career ferrying passengers and cargo between Maine towns and islands. She is 57 feet long and has a beam of 23 feet. Her hull is constructed of wood and she is powered by a 75 horsepower two-cylinder compound steam engine—the very same engine that was installed in 1908. The engine was constructed in nearby Noank. Her boiler is fueled by burning coal.
She came to Mystic Seaport in 1973, where she takes visitors on 30- and 90-minute cruises on the Mystic River from Memorial Day weekend to Columbus Day each year.
While she has received constant maintenance and work since she was purchased by Mystic Seaport in 1974, she had reached a point in the life of the vessel where a thorough restoration was needed to keep her operating for future generations.
“The goal is to make Sabino good for the next 25 years,” said Shipyard Director Quentin Snediker at the beginning of the project.
The restoration is supported by a mix of public and private sources, including a $199,806 Maritime Heritage Grant administered by the National Park Service, $149,000 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ Museums for America grant program, and $172,125 from the Connecticut State Historic Preservation.Office.