NORTHEAST HARBOR, ME — With the Sunbeam V out of the water for a routine major refit, the Mission had to find a way for the Sunbeam crew to travel among the islands without the Sunbeam. After researching, locating, and inspecting several boats, Sunbeam Engineer Storey King identified a 34-foot wooden Downeast Cruiser to serve as six-month transportation. Thursday, May 23, 2019 at 12:30 pm, the Sunbeam crew, Mission staff, and others gathered at Billings Boat Yard in Stonington, ME to christen the new Mission boat, Moonbeam.
Storey King will captain Moonbeam while Sunbeam Captain Michael Johnson oversees the Sunbeam refit.
“It’s really important for the Seacoast Mission to maintain our presence on the islands. The Moonbeam is more than just a way of getting our crew to the islands, it’s our way of living our commitment to the health and well-being of these vital communities, as we have been doing for over 100 years,” said Mission President John Zavodny.
With schoolchildren who named the Sunbeam in mind, Island Outreach Director Douglas Cornman came up with three possible boat names, and asked island schoolchildren to vote for their favorite name: Hope, Promineo, or Moonbeam. Hope was the Mission’s original 1905 vessel. Promineo means “to reach out.” Moonbeam is a name complementary to Sunbeam.
No one was surprised Moonbeam was the island schoolkids’ favorite name.
Captain Johnson said Moonbeam “was in solid condition when purchased. We made a few repairs and modifications to bring her up to our standards. Being a wooden boat, the primary concern was ensuring the bottom was watertight. Also, we made significant changes to the pilothouse seating arrangement, allowing better use of space and providing a small table/workstation. Mechanical upgrades,” said Johnson, “included a 120 volt inverter to allow charging of laptops and phones, a heating unit to warm the living space, and an improved main engine fuel filtering system,” he said.
Thursday, May 23rd, Mission President John Zavodny opened the christening with welcoming remarks, then turned over christening proceedings to Island Outreach Director Cornman. Sharon Daley, the Mission’s Island Health Director placed a green-leaved branch on the boat bow symbolizing a safe return to harbor after each voyage.
Then the three Isle au Haut students who helped choose the boat’s name, poured sparkling cider from four clear glasses over the bow while Moonbeam Captain Storey King said of the boat, “I christen thee, Moonbeam.”
BettyAnn and Ben Haskell of Brewer, ME also attended the christening and presented a special quilt given to Ben Haskell’s father, Rev. Stanley Haskell, who was Sunbeam Boat Minister (1974-1985).
Ben Haskell said, “When dad retired the women of the various island churches presented” his father and mother, Ethel, “with an amazing goose down quilt, exquisitely handmade, with each panel telling a story of the local church, the Sunbeam visits, and the coast of Maine.”
“For over 15 years the quilt hung on a wall [of my parents’ Northeast Harbor home,” Mr. Haskell said. BettyAnn Haskell restored the quilt to original condition, and the Haskells donated “this incredible piece of island craftsmanship and message of love from the churches to my father,” to Maine Seacoast Mission.
Then the Moonbeam, with full crew aboard, was lowered to the water for the first of several sea trials before being put into service on June 5th.
Moonbeam will be stationed in Northeast Harbor. The crew will also, depending on weather conditions, use airplanes and mail boats to do their work until the Sunbeam is back in service.