Rhe Brewster’s love of sailing would have undoubtedly led her to the Grace Bailey, which was known for many years as the Mattie. She is one of four surviving two-masted, wooden hulled schooners which once plied American waters. She was one of the first in a fleet of historical vessels offering cruises along the Maine coast – a Maine windjammer.
Grace Bailey has an 80-foot deck and an overall length of 118 feet. Her rigging consists of a mainsail, foresail, and two headsails. She has no engines, normally sailing with a small boat tied astern and powered by an internal gasoline engine. Her wooden hull is framed and planked in oak, with pine decking. The decking was originally fastened with wooden tree nails, but these were replaced by galvanized ship spikes during restoration. Grace Bailey’s early deck plan included two cargo hatches between the masts and one between the mainmast and the after deckhouse. Below decks she is now outfitted with crew and passenger cabins.
When Grace Bailey was built in 1882 in Patchogue, New York by
famed Long Island boat builder Oliver Perry Smith, she was one of tens of thousands of coastal schooners that ran passengers and freight along the Atlantic coast. She was originally constructed to serve the needs of the Edwin Bailey and Sons Lumber Company by carrying lumber from southern ports to Patchogue. Because of Edwin Bailey’s high standards and his access to fine wood, only the best was used in the construction of the ship.
Bailey named her after his daughter who was born in that year.
Quick, sturdy and dependable, she later hauled everything from oysters to coal, pulpwood, boxwood, granite and salt cod between Patchogue, Fall River, New Haven, Providence, New York City, Baltimore, Norfolk, and even the West Indies.
When she was rebuilt in 1906, she was renamed Mattie, after one of Bailey’s granddaughters, and under that name, she continued as a workhorse of coastal trade until 1939, the last twenty of those years on the Maine coastline.
In 1939 she was chartered by Frank Swift, who had had the idea of using schooners for passenger excursions, since they had become financially unsuitable for coastal freight trade with the advent of roads and trucks. He purchased her outright the following year.
After her second restoration in 1989-90, she was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1992 and renamed Grace Bailey.
For the passengers, captain and crew who
now enjoy a cruise on this old lady, there’s an emotion felt in the rise and fall of the deck and the shudder of the billowing sail – a feeling of being in the presence of history.