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Schooner Polly - Journal 1904

As described in the Belfast, Maine, Republican Journal, March 8, 1904

The Polly was launched in Amesbury, Massachusetts, in 1806, being constructed of the best white oak, "firm and stout," in the shipyard of Richard Currier. She is 48 tons burden, gross; 61 feet waterline length; 19 feet, 6 inches, extreme beam, and draws 5 feet forward and 7 feet aft, unloaded. In the early years of the last century she ran as a packet from Boston and Portland to points on Penobscot Bay and River, being owned in what is now Prospect. She carried wood and passengers to Boston, returning with passengers and a general cargo, consisting largely of supplies for the inhabitants of the lower Penobscot Valley. There is reason for believing that, from 1809 to 1812, she was owned by Captain Robert Patterson, of Saco, a cousin of the Robert Patterson, who, with his brothers, was among the first settlers of Belfast, Maine. Originally a sloop, as attested by the records, by witnesses who knew her at the time, and by the step of the mast, discovered some years ago, in her keelson, the Polly was changed to a schooner, some time between 1847 and 1841, probably in 1850, when she was extensively repaired and rebuilt by Jonathan Tinker in his shipyard on Tinker's Island, west of Mount Desert. She was again repaired about 1867 by Captain Ephraim Pray, at Mount Desert. On April 26, 1874, she went ashore in a heavy gale of wind and snow at Owl's Head, Maine, and was bought as she lay on the beach by Captain Lewis A. Arey, who used her in the lumber-carrying trade until 1885, when she was once more thoroughly repaired, being given a new top and ceiling and partially replanked, and became a lime-freighter. The Polly's rig to-day is that of a typical fore-and-aft coasting schooner, with the addition of a short flag fore-topmast. Though she has a heavy, square, old-fashioned, Dutch stern, still containing the ports through which her two stern-chasers may have been run out, and full, bluff, rounding bows on deck, with a bowsprit raking well in air, and a retrousse [Gr: accent over the e] flying jib-boom, yet the lines of the old craft under water are not at all bad, and, as the British discovered, she was, when compared with the vessels of her time, a fast sailer. In fact, nothing of her class was fleeter than she on a wind, until the modern Gloucester fishing vessels were evolved. The Marlette, a sloop yacht built on the lines of the latter, and of about the same length as the Polly, had trouble in sailing away from her recently, in a fresh southwest breeze on a run from Camden to Belfast. She has always had the best of care, with plenty of paint and liberal repairs, which, together with the preservative quality of the salt she probably carried in her youth, when we may infer she was used more or less for fishing, and which acts as a veritable elixir of life to ships, accounts for her good condition to-day. Below decks she has the same frames, timbers, and many of the planks that were put in on the Amesbury shipyard well over a hundred years ago. One of her original anchors is still suspended from her cat-head, and various articles of her old-time outfit and furniture may be seen aboard her. It would be hard to find a better inanimate example of "the survival of the fittest." So well did she fulfill the purposes for which she was designed and built that each successive owner has been willing to replace every worn or decaying piece of wood, and it is in this way that her whole top-sides, and possibly much of her bottom, have gradually been rebuilt. As to her weatherly qualities we have the following from Captain McFarland, one of her many owners. "In the fall of 1897, she was caught out in the Bay, in the great southwester that caused such havoc to our shipping; many of the big three- and four-masters getting terribly handled. The Polly was loaded with three hundred hogsheads of salt, a heavy and dead cargo, but she came right through the worst of it, and never parted a rope yarn." In 1904, exactly one hundred years after the laying of her keel, the Polly figured in an Old Home Week celebration, held at Amesbury, Massachusetts, in which town on the Powow River, at its junction with the beautiful and historic Merrimac, just above the bold, wooded bluff at Salisbury Point, she was built. Return to the Schooner Polly article >> Polly's Owners >> Why Polly Lasted as Long as She Did >>

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