MOUNT DESERT — Several area shipyards are expected to bid on the “mid-life refurbishment” planned for the Sunbeam, the Maine Seacoast Mission vessel that delivers health care and other services to island communities.
“I am pleased by the strong interest shipyards have shown in the project, as well as the quality of the yards considering the proposal,” Sunbeam captain Mike Johnson said last week. “They are Billings Diesel and Marine, Stonington; Front Street Shipyard, Belfast; Portland Yacht Services; Rockland Marine Corporation; and Washburn and Doughty, East Boothbay. By late March we should have a good idea of where the Sunbeam will head for its refit.”
The work is expected to take up to six months. John Gilbert designed the 74-foot vessel for the Mission (it’s the organization’s fifth Sunbeam); it was launched in 1995. Gilbert also drew up the specifications for the refit, which will address a rust problem on the steel hull.
“We need to have complete access to the interior of the hull so it can be sandblasted and then get two coats of marine primer.” Johnson said last summer. “That means the staterooms and everything else below the water line has to be torn out. And if the boat is going to be torn apart, there’s a bunch of other things we want to get done.”
The furnace and two generators need to be replaced and the crew’s living quarters need sprucing up.
Meanwhile, Storey King, the Sunbeam‘s engineer, has been researching, locating and inspecting several possible boats to fill in during the Sunbeam’s absence. He located a 34-foot wooden Downeast Cruiser in Portland that has the capability to serve this role.
The boat was recently surveyed by Rick Savage who was pleased with the boat’s condition, and the engine passed a rigorous “base pressure test” by Southworth Milton Caterpillar.
“In the next couple of weeks, this temporary boat will be trucked to Billings Diesel and Marine for routine maintenance and modifications to the interior,” Johnson said. “I am very excited by this addition to our fleet. She is a classic, handsome, and understated vessel with hints of lines from Sunbeam 3.”