The Maine Sea Coast Mission’s boat, Sunbeam, is docked at the pier at the Northeast Harbor Marina on Saturday. ISLANDER PHOTO BY DICK BROOM

Sunbeam getting new place to dock

MOUNT DESERT — The new dock at the Northeast Harbor Marina for the Maine Sea Coast Mission’s vessel, Sunbeam, is expected to be built this month.

The northernmost floats at the marina will be extended to accommodate Sunbeam and provide two rental slips for pleasure craft. The T-shaped addition will consist of a 38-foot extension from the end of the existing north float and an 86-foot finger float that will be perpendicular to the extension.

Prock Marine Company, based in Rockland, is the contractor for the project.

Mount Desert Harbormaster John Lemoine said last week that he expects the work to start shortly after Sept. 15. Prock project manager Gary Neville said Tuesday that it has not yet been scheduled. He said the work is expected to take about two weeks.

If the weather is good, it shouldn’t take longer than that, Lemoine said.

“The docks will be pre-built before they show up here, so they will be coming basically to pound the pilings into the mud and run the electric and hook up the water,” he said.

The $370,000 cost of the project is 42 percent higher than the initial estimate because it was determined that steel pilings were needed instead of the wood ones specified in the original design.

“When we had the core drilling done, they found over 50 feet of mud to get to bedrock,” Lemoine said earlier this year. “So, the longest piling has to be over 70 feet, and they just don’t make wooden pilings that long. So, we had to go to steel.”

He said the pilings need to rest on bedrock to ensure that the float extension is strong and stable.

Sunbeam is a very large vessel,” he said. “We need to hold that thing in place and make sure that if anything goes wrong, it’s not going to take out the whole marina.”

Sunbeam is 75 feet long and has a steel hull. It is sometimes used to break up ice in harbors along the coast.

Northeast Harbor is the home port for Sunbeam, which the Sea Coast Mission uses to provide “spiritual, health and youth development programs” to island and coastal communities of Down East Maine.

The boat has “state-of-the-art telemedicine equipment and a salon … for fellowship, meals and meetings,” according to the Sea Coast Mission’s website. “Sunbeam also sometimes hosts weddings and funerals.”

The vessel has been berthed beside the concrete pier at the marina since 1995. But, according to the harbormaster and Marine Management Committee, that space beside the pier is needed for lobster boats and other commercial craft.

Rev. Scott Planting, president of the Sea Coast Mission, had initially objected to the move, saying it would reduce the visibility of the boat and, thus, the mission. But he said last Friday that he thinks the new location will be an asset.

“Right now, when we take a group of people out, we have to back up to the public dock to get people on,” he said. “So, it’s going to be much more accessible.

“We’re pleased with the way everything has worked out. We think it’s going to benefit the fishing community and the trucks that need access for the boats [at the pier], as well as helping us with our own access.”

Voters at the 2015 town meeting approved the use of $260,000 from the marina’s undesignated fund account for the float extension project. This spring, voters authorized spending an additional $110,000 to cover the higher cost of steel pilings. That still leaves more than $1 million in the account.

Sunbeam’s berth will be on the outer side of the new dock. There will be two slips on the inside. Lemoine has estimated that rental of those slips for pleasure craft could generate revenue of $20,000 to $30,000 a year for the marina.

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]
Dick Broom

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