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For a 123-year-old Maine schooner, the time may have come for one last voyage

Will the “Victory Chimes” go from being a windjammer to a restaurant?

PORTLAND, Maine — In a world where the pace of technological change is dizzying, there is something reassuring about a ship — in this case, the “Victory Chimes” — that has the same engine it had when it was built in 1900. What kind of engine would that be?

Trick question. The Victory Chimes had no engine when it was launched as a cargo hauler in Delaware, and it still doesn’t. A small wooden yawl boat pushes on the stern of the 128-foot-long schooner to maneuver it in and out of harbors. Once the ship is at sea, it is propelled only by wind.

For anyone who loves this type of maritime tradition, with all the history and nostalgia that comes with it, this is a sad day. 

The Victory Chimes sold at auction last week for $75,900 and was under a deadline to be moved by Monday away from its dock in Rockland.

Owner Sam Sikkema made the decision to sell with great reluctance. As part of the Maine windjammer fleet, Victory Chimes had carried passengers on cruises along the coast nearly every year since 1954. Sikkema decided he could not keep going after the pandemic delivered a major financial hit and left him looking at expensive maintenance needed to keep the vessel seaworthy.

The new owners, Alex and Miles Pincus, have not commented publicly on their plans for the ship and did not respond to our request for an interview. However, they own other vessels in the New York City area — vessels that are now home to restaurants.

If the final seagoing chapter is over for this ship, it’s worth thinking about what a long run it had. 

“Vessels like the Victory Chimes were meant to be working vessels,” Kelly Page of the Maine Maritime Museum said. “They were meant to last, on average, 13 years. So this is an extraordinary life.”

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