NEW SAILS FOR THE GRACE BAILEY & MERCANTILE
New Sails for the Grace Bailey & Mercantile
This year Maine Windjammer Cruises historic schooners, Grace Bailey and the Mercantile will set out on the bay with new sails crafted with the traditions of the past. As I spoke with the sail maker Grant Gambell of Gambell & Hunter Sailmakers, I became aware that even our new sails have a connection to our schooners' past.
As Grant spoke of ordering 2,000 yards of # 4 duck cotton with special water resistant finish and the process of turning it all into sets of traditional sails, as it often does here in Maine, the conversation led to "how it was". As we talked, our schooners' connection to local sail making history and Gambell & Hunter began to unfold.
A young man named Amos P. Lord began his sail making career in 1882, the same year the Grace Bailey was built. He was apprenticed to his uncle's loft in Rockland, Maine. Lord worked there for many years perfecting his craft as he served the tall ships of the day, including the busy "coasters" who supplied cordwood to the lime kilns.
By 1889 he opened Lord Brothers in Bath, Maine and moved the business to Belfast in 1917. In 1920 Lord relocated again to the waterfront in Camden, where it remained until the fire of 1935. At that time both the Camden Anchor Works and Lords sail loft were completely destroyed. When you come for your cruise this summer, be sure to look for the large metal ring in the rocks in front of our check-in office. It's all that remains of the old factory and loft.
In 1940 Lord purchased a home at 16 Limerock Street in Camden where he operated a sail loft over his barn. During this time the founder of Maine Windjammer Cruises, Frank Swift, engaged him as the go to sail maker for his windjammer fleet.
Today Grant Gambell resides at 16 Limerock Street and operates his sail loft in the barn just as Amos Lord had done. Specializing in traditional sail making, he still uses the old 1918 sewing machine and some of the original tools from Lord's loft. In the tradition of Amos Lord's beginnings, Grant has engaged two apprentices (each with sailing backgrounds), Jenny Baxter and Emily Smith.
To quote Grant, "They have become really skilled sailmakers."
This summer the Grace Bailey and the Mercantile will be raising high quality sails made with time tested techniques and authentic materials, proudly carrying the Gambell & Hunter label. Thank you Grant, Jenny and Emily for your part in "Keeping the Tradition Alive" .
There is something so special about the Grace Bailey and Mercantile. You feel it when you step aboard. Everything from the rigging to the massive anchors speaks of their history and the connection to times gone by. Come aboard this summer and experience the magic!