The Mayflower II is not the only major vessel being worked on in the Museum’s Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard this winter. The Mystic Seaport steamboat Sabino was hauled and on Wednesday, December 17, she was moved into the main shop to begin an extensive restoration that will have her out of the water until the summer of 2016.
While she has received constant maintenance and work since she was purchased by Mystic Seaport in 1974, this will be the most comprehensive restoration initiative since that time.
A primary task is to replace the shaft log–a wooden section on top of the keel through which the propeller shaft passes–and to inspect and replace the keel bolts. This work requires the engine, boiler, and water tank to be removed to gain access on the inside. The shipwrights also will evaluate her overall condition and develop plans to address any other issues they uncover.
The boiler is scheduled to receive a thorough inspection. The present boiler is not her original, but it was installed in 1941. She will also receive major plumbing and machinery upgrades.
“The goal is to make Sabino good for the next 25 years,” said Quentin Snediker, the shipyard director.
Moving a Steamboat
Where large vessels such as the Charles W. Morgan, Mayflower II, and the Joseph Conrad must be worked on out in the yard, Sabino is small enough to fit in the main shop with some dis-assembly. Working in the shop is obviously preferable to having to cope with the vagaries of a New England winter.
To be able to fit through the doors, the boat’s smokestack, top canopy, and pilothouse had to be removed. The crane hired for this purpose also pulled out the boiler, the engine, and the main water tank. This was done last week and then she was hauled on the ship lift.
The railway system that enables the ship cradles to move on and off the lift do not run through the shop. Thus, a special trailer needed to be brought in to move Sabino. The firm who did the work is Brownell Systems of Mattapoisett, MA. Best known for the ubiquitous Brownell boat stands found in just about every boatyard, the company is an expert in boat transport.
The trailer they used came in several pieces and had to be assembled underneath the boat in a process that took most of a day. (This is a really large trailer.) Once the trailer was in place and was supporting the hull, the blocks and stands were removed and the steamboat could then roll. The truck then pulled forward and then backed the trailer around a turn into the shop. The process was aided by the fact that the trailer’s wheels could be rotated to tighten the turn radius.
The whole move went very smoothly and once in the shop, the shipyard crew braced and blocked the hull in position–being very careful to make sure everything was level–and then the trailer was taken apart. Sabino now stands ready for work to begin in earnest to get her back in the water in tip top condition in 2016.
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.