ESG Replicates Historic Schooner 'Columbia'

By George Backwell
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Schooner 'Columbia' launch: Photo collage courtesy of ESG

Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Inc. (ESG) informs that a steel hull replica of the historic Gloucester Fishing Schooner COLUMBA has been launched at its Panama City, Florida, shipyard with employees, dignitaries and guests in attendance.

The original COLUMBIA was a 141’ classic Gloucester Fishing Schooner built at the historic A.D. Story shipyard of Essex, Massachusetts, which was the center for North American Fishing Schooner construction.

At the christening ceremony, Brian D’Isernia, owner of Eastern Shipbuilding Group spoke about the journey of bringing the COLUMBIA back to life, the teamwork of the companies, and thanked the hard work of the men and women that made this dream possible.

Steve Southerland, U.S. Representative of the 2nd District of Florida, spoke about the teamwork and dedication of putting together a vessel like the COLUMBIA. Father Roy Marien of Saint John’s Catholic Church of Panama City, Florida, performed the blessing of the vessel. Brian’s wife, Mimi D’Isernia had the honor of christening the new vessel.

Designed by William Starling Burgess, the COLUMBIA was bred for speed. In the fall of 1923 and challenged the BLUENOSE, Canada’s legendary schooner in the International Fishermen's Cup Races in Halifax. Nearly winning the title, she was narrowly defeated by the BLUENOSE and was one of the few American schooners to provide a challenge to BLUENOSE.

Tragedy struck the promising young COLUMBIA on August 24, 1927 near Sable Island, the notorious “Graveyard of the Atlantic”, where the schooner was lost with all hands in a gale.

Decades later, Brian D’Isernia, discovered the original lines plan of the COLUMBIA in the Essex Shipbuilding Museum in Massachusetts, and took the opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream of bringing a significant piece of maritime history back to life.

Drawn by her proud history and her beauty, Brian began the journey of bringing the historic vessel back to life, and returning her to the glory she deserves.

Working with John W. Gilbert & Associates of Boston, Massachusetts, the design was re- engineered with a steel hull instead of wood. An engine room and staterooms were added to the design. Covey Island Boatworks of Lunenburg Nova Scotia built the rigging and spars. Blocks were fabricated by A. Dauphinee & Sons and all the sails were constructed by Michelle Stevens Sailloft, Ltd., both from the Second Peninsula, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. Teak decking was completed by Teakdecking Systems of Florida.

ESG adds that the COLUMBIA will continue to undergo outfitting and begin sailing trials this fall, then to be exhibited at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show October 30th - November 3rd, 2014.

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