BUCKSPORT — For the first time in 40 years, tall ships and schooners will sail the waters of the Penobscot River to celebrate the state’s bicentennial.
In July, several historic vessels will visit ports in the lower Penobscot River basin to honor Maine’s rich maritime past. Anchors will be in Bucksport, Orrington, Bangor and Searsport, known as the 4-Port Loop.
The tall ship Nao Santa Maria, a Sevillan replica of the largest ship from Christopher Columbus’ voyage to North America, will sail into Bucksport and be in port July 9 and 14. From there, it will sail to Bangor.
“It’s really a spectacular vessel,” said Dick Campbell, the president of the Penobscot Maritime Heritage Association, which organized the ship’s arrivals to the area. “It’s just incredibly impressive.”
The Nao Santa Maria will be joined in Bangor by Maine Maritime Academy’s historic schooner, Bowdoin, on July 15. Abbie Burgess, a 175-foot Coast Guard cutter, will also dock at the Bangor waterfront on July 16 and 17.
The University of Maine’s 3Dirigo, which is the largest 3-D printed object in the world, will travel by land and be exhibited in Bucksport, Bangor and Searsport.
The Constitution, a 6-story cruise ship, will also dock in Bucksport on July 17.
Campbell said that the association had hoped to pull together the event last year, but it was delayed because of the pandemic. There will be several other events connected to the arrival of the boats, including a Schooner Gam to commemorate the 175th anniversary of Searsport and a summer celebration in Bucksport on July 17.
The Penobscot Maritime Museum will also curate seafaring exhibits; Orrington will offer waterfront viewing locations and many activities from July 9-24; Castine will have an open house at the Wilson Museum on July 24.
A cell phone app (4portloop.oncell.com) will guide visitors through key historical sites and places for public access and views along the 4-Port Loop.
The goal is to expand awareness of the tourism opportunities along the coast and make the 4-Port Loop a vacation destination.
“If this goes well and people enjoy, we hope to do it annually,” Campbell said.