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Repairs spoil one tall ship’s sail plan

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By Matt Collette
Globe Correspondent / July 8, 2009
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A tall ship from Salem due to sail into Boston Harbor yesterday was drydocked in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, as workers repaired rotting wood discovered near the bow.

“It’s a disappointment, but it’s something you work on, something you prepare for,’’ said Jeremy Bumagin, rigger of the Friendship. “You’ve got to put the safety of the ship and the safety of the people before anything else.’’

The 104-foot ship, commissioned by the Salem Maritime National Historic Site and constructed in 1998, was undergoing scheduled maintenance when workers discovered that the beak head, a piece of wood on the ship’s bow, had started to rot. Rain, snow, and ice probably contributed to the condition, said Jim Fox, the ship’s skipper.

“We were looking forward to this summer and then right about Memorial Day, we brought the ship up to Boothbay for what we thought would be routine maintenance,’’ Fox said. “But as we know now, there were some problems found up in the bow of the ship, which has caused a lot more work than we anticipated.’’

Last week, the ship’s crew informed Sail Boston officials the vessel would not participate in the event this weekend.

“That was unfortunately beyond their control, and beyond our control,’’ said Sheila Green, a Sail Boston spokeswoman. The group’s website lists more than 40 other tall ships that are expected to participate.

Work on the Friendship is expected to be completed near the end of this month. The ship participated in Sail Boston in 2000 without its full rigging, powered by its engines instead.

“We were called the ‘stubby little tall ship,’ which we were, so we were hoping this year to put on a good show,’’ Fox said.