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Volunteers team up to refurbish 65-foot schooner

January 20, 2019

BAY CITY, Mich. (AP) — On a rainy day in January along the banks of the Saginaw River, a handful of volunteers are busy refurbishing a majestic 65-foot schooner housed under a temporary tent.

When they finish their work, the sailboat named Appledore V will take to the waters of Saginaw Bay and the Great Lakes and will join a tall ships fleet coming this summer to Bay City. The boat is owned by the Bay City-based nonprofit BaySail.

“Well, we’ve owned the Appledore V for a lot of years now,” Shirley Roberts, executive director of BaySail, told The Bay City Times. . “For a period of time, it was actually deployed to Florida where she was generating income that would help support operations back home.”

BaySail uses the Appledore V and its sister ship, the 85-foot Appledore IV based in Bay City, for excursion cruises, environmental education and sail-training programs for youths. The group has owned both sailboats since 1998.

In the winter of 2010, the Appledore V relocated to Ft. Myers, Florida, then Key West, Florida, in 2012. There, paid cruises generated money for BaySail operations back home. In 2016, the ship sailed back to Bay City and made an appearance in the 2016 Tall Ship Celebration.

The Appledore V can have roughly 24 people on a day sail with nine overnight, while it’s larger sibling can hold 48 during the day and 10 overnight. Both were also built in Florida in 1992 and 1989.

Bay City schooner Appledore V safe at port in Key West

Because the ship’s hull is made from steel, the salt water in Florida corroded some of the boat’s hull.

For the ship to be ready for the 2019 Tall Ship Celebration in July, the hull and other parts of the boat needed refurbishing. So at Pier 7 in Bay City, the ship currently is housed in a 40-foot by 70-foot transparent “greenhouse” tent that allows volunteers to do the work out of the elements.

“Currently, we are doing a refit on the boat, so we are addressing some wiring issues, some plumbing issues but it was all prompted by finding some corrosion in the hull,” said Joe Parker, lead volunteer and project manager. “That corrosion is caused by a little bit of salt water contamination that’s happened over the lifetime of the boat.”

The repair work also involves the U.S. Coast Guard, and a lieutenant based in Detroit, comes to Bay City to help with the hull inspection and repairs as well.

“We’re here doing oversight of the dry dock period on this vessel, so every so many years — five years — they need to haul out and do a dry dock,” Lt. James Dunbar said. “We start off with an internal structural exam where we examine everything on the inside of the ship . . . a whole comprehensive view of the health, if you will, of the hull.”

Dunbar said they brought in a technical expert that uses ultrasonic testing to gauge areas of the hull to figure out where there are weak spots.

Crew pulls masts from Bay City tall ship for rare inspection

He also said ship must be certified to take passengers out on the water.

Parker and some 40 other volunteers are working and spending hundreds of hours to replace parts of the hull before the end of April so it can be ready for the summer.

He said the volunteers have spent over 350 hours inside the boat working, in addition to 515 hours in building the “greenhouse” enclosure which has things such as humidity control to keep the boat dry from the rainy Michigan weather.

“We were looking to get inside a building at the pier, but they didn’t have the space,” Parker said, adding they needed a lot of space for the boat, and since they are doing welding and cutting of steel, other boats can’t be nearby. “Building this enclosure really has been the best thing that could’ve happened; we can work on any given day.”

Parker, who has been in the marine industry for 40 years in the Bay City area, has primarily worked on fiberglass and wood boats, so this was a chance for him to work with steel, which interested him. He said he was eager to volunteer to work on the boat because he loved the challenge of it.

Roberts said while they don’t have an amount appropriated for the boat repairs, she said they have spent roughly $60,000 on repairs and maintenance for both the Appledore IV and V ships.

“We’ve received some money from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation to help offset the costs,” she said. “We are doing to this thanks to some very talented people . . . (it’s) a small army of very motivated and enthusiastic people.”

BaySail is still in the process of looking for ships to fill out its list for the 2019 Tall Ship Celebration, but both Appledores will be there during the July 18-21 event.

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Information from: The Bay City Times, http://www.mlive.com/bay-city

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