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Discover The Remarkable Replica Of The Columbia Gloucester Schooner

In this blog post, we will delve into the fascinating rebirth of Columbia, a North American fishing schooner constructed with meticulous attention to detail and modern advancements. Showcasing the proud legacy of Gloucester fishing schooners, the replica continues to inspire maritime enthusiasts, and has emerged as an exemplar of both tradition and innovation.

The construction process started by Brian D’Isernia and led by project manager Jake Stevens includes collaboration with John Steele, founder of Lunenburg’s Covey Island Boatworks, and his son Dorian Steele – a talented rigger, with a meticulous eye for detail. We’ll explore their high standards in craftsmanship; including Michelle Stephens’ contribution with an entire sail made from Oceanus cloth.

Furthermore, we will discuss how the new Columbia seamlessly integrates modern technology like a powerful Caterpillar engine into its traditional design. The racing successes and adventures of this replica Gloucester Schooner are also highlighted – from its victories in the Gloucester Schooner Race and New London Maritime Race.

Finally, we’ll share insights on Columbia’s experience at the Antigua Classic Regatta where it left an indelible impact on sailors and spectators alike. Join us as we celebrate this extraordinary fusion of history and innovation embodied by the Columbia.

Table of Contents

The Rebirth of Columbia

In 2014, the 141ft (43m) replica of a Gloucester fishing schooner, Columbia, was built by Brian D’Isernia at his Eastern Shipbuilding Group (ESG) yard. This modern version pays homage to the original vessel that sank during a storm off Canada’s Sable Island in 1927. Discover how this classic boat was brought back to life and its journey since then.

Construction process led by project manager Jake Stevens

The complex plans for the new Columbia were studied meticulously by Jake Stevens, before he began recruiting skilled craftsmen like John Steele, founder of Covey Island Boatworks. Together they worked tirelessly to bring this historic design back to life with utmost precision and care.

Collaboration with John Steele:

With decades of experience in building wooden boats, John Steele and his son Dorian, played an integral role in ensuring that every detail on Columbia matched those found on her predecessor; while incorporating modern materials and techniques for improved performance and durability.

This rebirth not only honors the memory of the original ship but also showcases what can be achieved when passionate individuals come together with a shared vision. They create something truly remarkable out of love for maritime history and craftsmanship.

High Standards and Craftsmanship

The construction of the replica Columbia demanded a level of craftsmanship that would honor its historic predecessor. The team at Eastern Shipbuilding Group (ESG) was dedicated to upholding exceedingly high standards throughout every aspect of the project, ensuring that no detail was overlooked.

One key contributor to this dedication was sailmaker Michele Stephens, who crafted an entire sail for Columbia using Oceanus cloth. This modern material provides exceptional durability while maintaining a traditional appearance, making it perfect for the classic vessel.

  • Meticulous Woodwork: ESG’s skilled artisans took great care in crafting intricate wooden details found throughout the schooner. One notable example is the raised stainless stars carved into various wood elements on board.
  • Elegant Glass Features: In addition to woodwork, glass features were also given special attention during construction. Etched glass designs can be found in several areas of the Columbia, adding an extra touch of sophistication and elegance.

This unwavering commitment to quality extended beyond just materials and aesthetics; even seemingly minor aspects like fastenings were scrutinized closely by Project Manager Jake Stevens and his team. By collaborating with industry experts like John Steele – founder of Covey Island Boatworks – they ensured that every element met their rigorous standards, while staying true to the original design principles behind North American fishing schooners.

The Columbia is a replica of the Gloucester fishing schooner, which was originally built in 1923 by the innovative William Starling Burgess. The original Columbia was known for its speed and agility, winning the International Fishermen’s Cup Races in 1923 and 1924. The replica was built by ESG in Panama City, Florida, and launched in 2014.

The Columbia is not the only replica schooner to be built in recent years. Canada’s legendary schooner, the Bluenose II, was also recently rebuilt by the Lunenburg, Nova Scotia-based company, the Covey Island Boatworks. The Bluenose II is a symbol of Canadian heritage and is featured on the Canadian dime.

Other American schooners have also been rebuilt, including the Adventure and the Ernestina-Morrissey. The original Adventure was built in 1926 in Essex, Massachusetts, and the rebuilt schooner is now owned by the Essex Shipbuilding Museum. The original Ernestina-Morrissey was built in 1894 in Essex, Massachusetts, and the replica is now owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The new Columbia is a steel-hulled schooner, a departure from the traditional wooden construction of the original vessel. This decision was made to ensure the longevity of the ship and to make it more suitable for modern use. The hull construction was also a nod to the shipyard where the original Columbia was built – the Story Shipyard in Essex, Massachusetts, which was known for its historic timber vessels.

The Columbia has been outfitted with modern amenities, including a state-of-the-art navigation system and a luxurious interior, including the topmasts made from Sitka spruce.

The Columbia has participated in several races and events since its launch, including the International Fishermen’s Cup Races and the Sable Island Race. It continues to be a beloved vessel, admired for its beauty and historical significance.

Powering Through Modern Technology

The new Columbia, while inspired by a historic design, is equipped with state-of-the-art technology to ensure smooth sailing and impressive performance. At the heart of this modernized classic vessel lies a powerful 587hp Caterpillar engine, which allows the Columbia to navigate through challenging conditions without compromising her traditional appearance.

Launched on August 23rd, 2014, the integration of such advanced machinery into an otherwise timeless design showcases how old-world charm can be seamlessly combined with cutting-edge technology. This harmonious blend not only makes for an awe-inspiring sight on water but also ensures that Columbia remains competitive in races and reliable during long voyages.

  • Integration of a powerful Caterpillar engine: The inclusion of this modern powerhouse enables Columbia to maintain speed and agility even in demanding situations at sea.
  • Maintaining tradition while embracing innovation: By carefully integrating contemporary components within its classic framework, the replica schooner pays homage to its predecessor while simultaneously adapting to today’s maritime requirements.
  • A testament to engineering excellence: The successful fusion of old and new elements in Columbia’s construction demonstrates the high standards upheld by ESG throughout every stage of development.

Incorporating these technological advancements has allowed the reborn Columbia schooner not only to preserve its historical essence but to also excel as a versatile vessel, capable of meeting various challenges head-on – truly embodying both beauty and brawn on water.

Racing Successes & Adventures

The Columbia has made quite a name for herself in the world of classic boat racing since her launch in 2014. Her impressive performance and elegance have been on full display at various races, earning her top honors and admiration from sailors and spectators alike.

  • Gloucester Schooner Race victory: The replica schooner’s first major success came when she swept top honors at the prestigious 2016 Gloucester Schooner Race. This race is an annual event that celebrates the rich maritime heritage of Gloucester, Massachusetts. Competing against other beautiful classic boats, Columbia showcased her speed and agility to claim victory.
  • Journey to meet Bluenose II in Nova Scotia: In addition to her racing successes, Columbia embarked on an exciting adventure up the Potomac River before sailing towards Nova Scotia. There she met another famous schooner – Bluenose II, which is considered one of Canada’s most iconic symbols, representing its proud seafaring history. This encounter between two legendary vessels was truly a sight to behold.

In each of these events, the replica Columbia has demonstrated her prowess and ability to captivate those who witness her grace on the water. The original Columbia was a regular competitor in the International Fishermen’s Cup Races, which were held off the coast of Nova Scotia and pitted American schooners against Canada’s legendary schooner, Bluenose.

The replica Columbia was built using modern materials and techniques, including steel construction and a Sitka spruce mast. Her deck was crafted in teak, and her sails were made by Michele Stevens Sailloft Ltd. Despite these modern touches, the Columbia remains true to her heritage and is a testament to the craftsmanship and skill of her builders.

Antigua Classic Regatta Experience

In 2016, the Antigua Classic Regatta welcomed the majestic replica Gloucester schooner, Columbia, to its lineup of elegant and historic vessels. The ship made a lasting impression on both sailors and spectators as she gracefully navigated through the azure waters of the Caribbean.

Captain Karl Joyner expertly guided Columbia during this prestigious event, making necessary sail adjustments to accommodate Antigua’s light wind conditions. These changes included reducing sail area and optimizing trim for maximum performance in lighter breezes. With her Oceanus cloth sails billowing effortlessly, Columbia showcased her prowess among other classic boats participating in the regatta.

The presence of such an iconic vessel like Columbia at Antigua Classic Regatta not only highlights her impressive capabilities but also pays tribute to maritime history by preserving traditional sailing techniques while incorporating modern technology.

The Columbia Visits San Harbor Marina

The majestic replica Gloucester Schooner, the Columbia, is bound to make waves as it arrives at the picturesque San Harbor Marina in San Diego. With its rich maritime heritage and classic design, the Columbia embodies the spirit of a bygone era. As the graceful vessel sails into the marina, its towering masts and billowing sails will capture the attention of onlookers, transporting them back to the golden age of sailing. The Columbia’s visit to San Harbor Marina offers an opportunity for locals and visitors alike to witness the beauty and elegance of a traditional schooner up close.

The arrival of the Columbia at San Harbor Marina offers a unique opportunity to experience the seafaring traditions of the past. Visitors can embark on a guided tour of the schooner, stepping onto its replicated decks and imagine the life of sailors who braved the open ocean. You can soak in the breathtaking views of San Diego’s coastline while listening to the stories and legends associated with the original Columbia. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply appreciate the beauty of classic sailing vessels, the arrival of the Columbia at San Harbor Marina promises an unforgettable experience for all who venture aboard.


The Columbia, a replica Gloucester schooner, is a true masterpiece that showcases the perfect blend of traditional design and modern technology. The attention to detail in craftsmanship, racing successes and the schooner’s appearance at the Antigua Classic Regatta are all testaments to the skillful team behind its creation.

Crafted with meticulous attention to detail, the Columbia faithfully recreates the original Gloucester schooner that was built in 1923. With its sleek lines, varnished woodwork, and gleaming brass fittings, the vessel exudes a timeless charm that harkens back to a time when schooners ruled the seas. As the Columbia glides into the marina, spectators will be captivated by its grandeur, marveling at the craftsmanship that went into recreating this historic ship.

If you’re looking for a specially designed harbor with moorings for pleasure yachts and small boats, look no further than Sun Harbor Marina. Our experienced staff can provide you with the amenities necessary for a luxurious and comfortable boating experience.

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