MOUNT DESERT — With the Sunbeam V out of the water for a routine major refit, the Maine Seacoast Mission had to find a way for the Sunbeam crew to travel among the islands without their boat.
After researching, locating and inspecting several boats, Sunbeam engineer Storey King identified a 34-foot wooden Downeast cruiser to serve as transportation for Sunbeam’s six-month refit period.
On Thursday, May 23, the Sunbeam crew, Mission staff and others gathered at Billings Diesel & Marine Boat Yard in Stonington, to christen the new Mission boat, Moonbeam. King will captain Moonbeam while Sunbeam Captain Michael Johnson oversees the Sunbeam refit.
“It’s really important for the Seacoast Mission to maintain our presence on the islands,” said Mission President John Zavodny. “The Moonbeam is more than just a way of getting our crew to the islands, it’s our way of living our commitment to the health and well-being of these vital communities, as we have been doing for over 100 years.”
With schoolchildren who named the Sunbeam in mind, the Mission’s Island Outreach Director Douglas Cornman came up with three possible boat names — Hope, Promineo, or Moonbeam — and asked island schoolchildren to vote for their favorite. Hope was the Mission’s original 1905 vessel. Promineo means “to reach out.” No one was surprised Moonbeam was the island school kids’ favorite name.
Thomas Dugas built and launched Moonbeam at his family’s Royal River Boatyard in Yarmouth in 1990 for his personal use. According to Seacoast Mission’s Storey King, the boat “cruised from Casco Bay to Frenchman’s Bay, and beyond in the summers.”
Captain Johnson said Moonbeam “was in solid condition when purchased,” but the Mission “made some repairs and modifications to bring the boat up to our standards.”
The primary concern for an older wooden boat was to ensure that “the bottom was watertight,” Johnson said. There were also, “significant changes to the pilothouse seating arrangement” to allow for better use of space and provide a small table/workstation.
Mechanical upgrades include a 120-volt inverter to allow onboard charging of laptops and cell phones, a heating unit to warm the living space and an improved main engine fuel filtering system.
According to King, Moonbeam will only serve the Mission until Sunbeam returns to service; then the wooden boat will be sold.
“Sell it. That’s what the plan is,” King said Monday.