The Sarah Mead – Boothbay Harbor, Maine - Atlas Obscura

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The Sarah Mead

Boothbay Harbor, Maine

The last sailing lobster boat in Maine is also likely New England's first zero-emissions commercial vessel.  


While the tough, wet work of lobstering Maine’s rugged coast might bring to mind images of diesel-powered motor boats hauling massive crates of lobster from the deep with mechanized cranes, this process is, relatively, cutting-edge. For generations, Maine’s lobster industry was built on strong winds, wooden boats, and calloused hands, all of which you can experience for yourself aboard the Sarah Mead—the very last sailing lobster boat in Maine. 

On each two-hour tour, visitors sail within Boothbay Harbor, hauling crates from the briny deep packed (hopefully) with healthy Maine lobsters—though, as the boat’s captains posit, you never know what you’re going to get. With homegrown Mainers Nate and Randy Jones (a father-and-son team) at the helm, those aboard will also get a chance to learn the ins and outs of the state’s lobster industry, view centuries-old lighthouses, glean local history, and watch porpoises, seals, and osprey perusing the harbor. While the experience is designed to take visitors into the distant past of an iconic Maine trade, Sarah Mead does feature one notably modern component. 

Built in 1965, the 42-foot Friendship Sloop (designed in the 1880s specifically for Maine lobster harvesters) sailed for untold years before winding up in a derelict barn, scheduled to be burned, in 2005. The Joneses not only renovated her to sea-worthy condition, but also won grant money from Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection in 2012 to replace her diesel engine with an electric turbine: As she sails under wind, water passing over her propeller charges several batteries below deck. The Joneses believe this makes Sarah Mead the last wind-powered lobster boat in Maine, as well as the first zero-emission commercial vessel in New England.

Efficiency aside, her turbine engine also makes her “Maine’s Quietest Lobsterboat” (as per the Joneses). Even under motor power, the ship is completely silent and odorless, keeping the rumble and fumes of otherwise diesel-reliant propulsion at bay. Who says you can’t teach a half-century-old ship on the edge of destruction new tricks?

Know Before You Go

Tours depart from Spruce Point Inn and can be booked from July through October via the Joneses’ website.

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July 19, 2022

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