After more than two years of restoration in the Museum’s Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard, the steamboat Sabino successfully completed her sea trial today, setting the stage for her to return to regular operation on August 2.
The sea trial was the first time she has operated under her own power with a new boiler that was custom designed and fabricated. The coal-fired boiler powers a 75-horsepower two-cylinder compound steam engine. The engine is the original power plant that was installed in 1908 and was manufactured by the J. H. Paine & Son Co. in nearby Noank, Connecticut.
This afternoon, a fire was lit in the boiler and when sufficient steam pressure was raised, Sabino was moved off her berth in the shipyard and eased into the channel with the help of several small boats. With Captain David Childs ringing the bell communicate instructions to engineers Jason Cabral and Ed Crotty, the steamboat got underway under her own power for a short trip up and down the Mystic River in front of the Museum.
“It was really great to see Sabino out on the water again,” said Mystic Seaport President Steve White. “The river just hasn’t been the same without her.”
Sabino was built in 1908 in East Boothbay, Maine, and spent most of her career ferrying passengers and cargo between Maine towns and islands. Sabino came to Mystic Seaport in 1973 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1992.
The recent restoration began in December 2014 and addressed a number of issues around the vessel, including reframing much of the stern, replacing the keel bolts, installing new planking and decking, and restoring portions of the superstructure. In addition, numerous mechanical and systems upgrades were carried out, most notably the fabrication and installation of a new boiler to meet modern safety and regulatory requirements. The restoration is expected to keep Sabino in operation for at least the next 25 to 30 years.
Beginning August 2, Sabino will operate six days a week from the Mystic Seaport waterfront. There will be three cruises per day: a 30-minute upriver cruise for $8 per person at 2:30 p.m., a 90-minute downriver cruise to the mouth of the Mystic River for $18 per person at 3:30 p.m., and a two-hour downriver cruise at 5:30 p.m. for $25 per person. There will also be a two-hour downriver cruise at 11:30 a.m. on Sundays for $25 per person. The boat will not operate on Tuesdays.
Museum admission is not required for downriver cruises (it is required for the 30-minute cruise). Children 3 and younger ride for free, but they must have a ticket to board. Tickets can be purchased up to two weeks in advance by calling Central Reservations at 860-572-5331, Visitor Services at 860-572-0711, or the Ticket Booth at 860-572-5351.
Sabino can carry 74 passengers and is available for group charters. Her operating season ends October 9.