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Schooner 'Bowdoin's' Seafaring Life

This Exhibit Contains 31 Items
1
The schooner 'Bowdoin' at sea

The schooner 'Bowdoin' at sea

Item 54886 info
Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center

William H. Hand, a naval architect from New Bedford, Massachusetts, designed the Bowdoin to Donald MacMillan's specifications.

After many seasons in the Arctic, MacMillan was well aware of the conditions his new vessel would encounter. With a strong and rounded hull to deal with ice, the schooner carried fewer sails than most schooners and had a strong engine.

The Arctic is known for either too much or too little wind.


2
 MacMillan with puppy on 'Bowdoin,' 1939

MacMillan with puppy on 'Bowdoin,' 1939

Item 54900 info
Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center

Some of Donald MacMillan's work in the Arctic relied on sleds pulled by dogs especially bred for working. Occasionally a particular dog, like Kahda, became a pet as well. MacMillan was known to be fond of dogs and very good at working with them -- skills he learned from Inuit companions on his first Arctic expedition with Robert Peary in 1908-1909.

Donald MacMillan, a native of Provincetown, Massachusetts, moved to Maine as a teenager. He graduated from Freeport High School and later from Bowdoin College, for which he named the schooner he built in 1921 for Arctic expeditions.


3
Schooner 'Bowdoin' launch, East Boothbay, 1921

Schooner 'Bowdoin' launch, East Boothbay, 1921

Item 54901 info
Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center

April 9, 1921 was a banner day for Donald MacMillan: his Arctic schooner Bowdoin was finally launched. In this image, the schooner is traditionally dressed with flags for the occasion. The American flag flies at her stern as she goes down the ways at Hodgdon Brothers Shipyard in East Boothbay.

The group of people aboard undoubtedly included MacMillan as owner and captain.

The schooner's masts, sails, engine and other gear would be added later. At 88 feet long, the wooden vessel was stoutly built with shallow draft for hugging the land and reducing the risk of grounding in northern waters that were largely uncharted at that time.


4
Schooner 'Bowdoin' in drydock, South Portland, 1921

Schooner 'Bowdoin' in drydock, South Portland, 1921

Item 54902 info
Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center

After her April launching, but before her first trip North, the schooner Bowdoin went into dry dock at South Portland to be fitted out with masts, rigging, gear, and equipment.

This image shows the schooner's rounded hull shape, which allows her to ride up on the ice, rather than be squeezed or crushed.


5
Schooner 'Bowdoin' departs from Castine, ca. 1950

Schooner 'Bowdoin' departs from Castine, ca. 1950

Item 54903 info
Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center

The Bowdoin made her first departure for the Arctic in July 1921. For decades, she left from various ports in Maine - most often Wiscasset and Boothbay Harbor, but a few times from Castine, as in this photo taken around 1950.

Crowds always thronged the waterside to make the Bowdoin's departures for the North into festive occasions.

Many also watched and waved from small boats, accompanying the schooner out to open water.


6
Schooner 'Bowdoin' in winter quarters, Baffin Island, 1922

Schooner 'Bowdoin' in winter quarters, Baffin Island, 1922

Item 54904 info
Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center

Deliberately iced in for her first Arctic winter, the schooner Bowdoin sports snow domes over her hatches for protection from wind while allowing air to circulate into the vessel.

More snow blocks are banked against her hull for insulation and to prevent condensation in the living quarters. Notice the snow house on the ice nearby.

Donald MacMillan's 1921-1922 expedition undertook a variety of scientific projects, including a magnetic study station, ornithological and navigation work, exploration and studies of the local Inuit community on southern Baffin Island.

Iced in for over eight months, the schooner served as home while the men explored and conducted their studies.


7
Fox pelts in rigging of 'Bowdoin,' Baffin Island, 1922

Fox pelts in rigging of 'Bowdoin,' Baffin Island, 1922

Item 54914 info
Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center

During the long Arctic winters, the crew hunted for fresh meat and valuable furs. Here, fox pelts hang from the rigging to cure.

A plankton net used for scientific sampling can be seen at left.


8
Schooner 'Bowdoin' melting out, Refuge Harbor, Greenland, 1924

Schooner 'Bowdoin' melting out, Refuge Harbor, Greenland, 1924

Item 76882 info
Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center

In 1924, it was July before the schooner Bowdoin finally started to break out of her winter quarters in Refuge Harbor, Northwest Greenland. From a nearby hill, patterns in the ice show that it is moving. But it was a long and hazardous melting out, and the vessel came close to being lost.

This was the schooner's second voyage north, beginning in 1923. The expedition's goals included establishing a scientific station, continual tide and weather observations over a year, and work in botany, geology, ornithology and anthropology. Magnetic observations were taken, and short-wave radio experiments conducted.

While the schooner was deliberately frozen in to her winter quarters (for 325 days), Donald MacMillan, the head of the expedition who had the schooner built to his specifications, took a dog sledge across Smith Sound to Cape Sabine on Ellesmere Island.

There he put up a memorial tablet to the ill-fated Greely Expedition (1881-1884), America's contribution to the first International Polar Year.


9
The schooner 'Bowdoin' at sea, 1934

The schooner 'Bowdoin' at sea, 1934

Item 54915 info
Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center

In this at-sea shot, some of the schooner Bowdoin's gear can be seen on deck: an anchor and chain, as well as the three dories stacked against the schooner's port rail.

These were ready to be launched if needed for getting to shore, or to serve as lifeboats. Occasionally, the crew of the schooner that Donald B. MacMillan had built for Arctic exploration used a dory as a bathtub.

In 1934, the Bowdoin sailed to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Labrador, and Baffin Island on a three-month expedition to study bird life and plants.


10
Inuit man aboard 'Bowdoin,' 1947

Inuit man aboard 'Bowdoin,' 1947

Item 76976 info
Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center

Inuit families were frequent visitors to the Bowdoin during each of her twenty-six northern expeditions between 1921 and 1954. They welcomed the Bowdoin as she made her way around the North, stopping at areas where old friends lived.

This man visited during the 1947 voyage when the schooner anchored at Thule in northwest Greenland. He wears the men's summer clothing traditionally used in that area: a cloth anorak, polar bear pants, and skin boots or kamiks.


11
Inuit woman and children on 'Bowdoin,' northwest Greenland

Inuit woman and children on 'Bowdoin,' northwest Greenland

Item 54916 info
Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center

An Inuit woman with a toddler in the hood of her parka stands by the schooner Bowdoin's wheel with four older children, two daughters and two sons (one partly hidden).

Distinctive traditional clothing for women included high boots worn with short fur pants. Infants and toddlers rode on their mothers' backs, protected by the oversized hood of her amautik, or parka.


12
Sailors watching iceberg from 'Bowdoin,' 1947

Sailors watching iceberg from 'Bowdoin,' 1947

Item 76975 info
Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center

While icebergs are a common sight in northern waters, they never lose their fascination. The crew of the Bowdoin admires a small iceberg from a safe distance during their 1947 voyage to Greenland.

Miriam MacMillan, in her distinctive red hat, can be seen at left, at the schooner's stern. An inveterate photographer, she appears to be checking her camera. After 1935, when she married Capt. Donald MacMillan, Miriam sailed north as a member of each expedition's crew.


13
MacMillan navigating from 'ice bucket,' 1940

MacMillan navigating from 'ice bucket,' 1940

Item 76879 info
Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center

Working a vessel through the ice requires experience and confidence in the vessel. From high on the mast of the Bowdoin, Captain Donald MacMillan could see a long way. Through the megaphone, he directs the helmsman on deck to steer the schooner closer in to land.

The "ice bucket" was so called because it was shaped to provide protection from wind and cold. From there the navigator could spot leads or open areas of water in an icefield.

"Mac" had decades of experience sailing and navigating in the Arctic. Those who sailed with him remarked that he always kept his cool, no matter how harsh the conditions.


14
Donald MacMillan in rigging of 'Bowdoin,' 1947

Donald MacMillan in rigging of 'Bowdoin,' 1947

Item 54699 info
Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center

Captain Donald MacMillan climbs aloft for a better look at the Labrador coast near Cape Mugford.

MacMillan was as active as any of his younger crew members, going aloft to navigate the schooner through unknown or icy passages, make repairs, or take in the view.

The foreground shows some of the vessel's gear: dories, water and fuel barrels, and assorted scientific equipment.


15
Inuit aboard schooner 'Bowdoin,' West Greenland

Inuit aboard schooner 'Bowdoin,' West Greenland

Item 54927 info
Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center

West Greenlanders and crewmen watch a film on deck.

Donald MacMillan, who stands by the projector near the schooner's wheel, and his wife, Miriam, frequently filmed Inuit people, their activities and environment.

Occasionally "Mac" showed Hollywood films, too. Both the crew and their northern visitors delighted in "going to the pictures."


16
'Bowdoin' and S.S. 'Peary' departing from Wiscasset, 1925

'Bowdoin' and S.S. 'Peary' departing from Wiscasset, 1925

Item 76881 info
Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center

A large crowd was present at the send-off for the schooner Bowdoin and the steamer Peary as they left Wiscasset for the Arctic to pursue an experiment. Well-wishers crowd the dock, both vessels, and the small boats and ferry nearby.

This 1925 joint expedition was sponsored by National Geographic.

The vessels carried three amphibious airplanes, U.S. Navy personnel, and a radio set in order to test the feasibility of using both aircraft and radio communications in Arctic regions.

Donald MacMillan was a pioneer in experimenting with technology that would eventually change life in the Arctic for residents and visitors alike.


17
West Greenland women aboard the 'Bowdoin,' 1926

West Greenland women aboard the 'Bowdoin,' 1926

Item 55114 info
Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center

Sitting on the rail during the schooner's visit to West Greenland, these women show off their traditional clothing. They wear beaded collars over cloth jackets with fur at neck and cuffs.

Their fancy boots reach over the knee to meet short fur pants decorated with embroidery and inset strips of contrasting fur.

During the summer of 1926, the schooner Bowdoin traveled to Labrador, Baffin Island, and Greenland on an expedition sponsored by the Field Museum of Chicago.

The scientists working with Donald MacMillan concentrated on marine life and plant studies.


18
The schooner 'Bowdoin' crew, 1939

The schooner 'Bowdoin' crew, 1939

Item 55106 info
Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center

In 1939, students from high schools, prep schools and colleges joined Donald and Miriam MacMillan and the Bowdoin's crew for a 3-month voyage to Labrador, Baffin Island and Greenland. They explored fjords, studied glaciers, and also did scientific work in ornithology, botany, and oceanography.

Here eleven of the crew members and scientists gather at the wheel for a group photo. In the foreground are water cans and radio equipment.


19
Schooner 'Bowdoin' navigating Strait of Belle Isle, 1947

Schooner 'Bowdoin' navigating Strait of Belle Isle, 1947

Item 55115 info
Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center

Navigating the Strait of Belle Isle, which runs between Labrador and Newfoundland, can be tricky at the best of times. Rough seas and sea ice are common for much of each year, as is bad weather ranging from thick fog to outright gales.

Also known as the Labrador Straits, this passage was an essential route to and from the schooner Bowdoin's Arctic destinations.

The schooner was built to tackle tough conditions. Her sturdy hull and short sail rig, aided by a powerful engine, could handle high winds, seas, and ice.

Here Rutherford Platt, who was the botanist on this and other expeditions, captures with his camera the drama of the schooner's bow coming down hard from a wave.


20
'Bowdoin' beached for repairs, 1947

'Bowdoin' beached for repairs, 1947

Item 76977 info
Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center

On any long voyage, repairs are sometimes needed. Here the Bowdoin has been taken into shore at low tide and careened. A dory floats at her stern so that the propeller can be fixed.

The possibility of making hull repairs in places remote from shipyards and drydocks is one of the advantages of building a vessel in wood instead of steel.


21
Birthday celebration aboard 'Bowdoin,' 1947

Birthday celebration aboard 'Bowdoin,' 1947

Item 55117 info
Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center

The crew of the Bowdoin gathers below decks to offer a birthday toast to a crew member. Holidays and celebrations were a shipboard tradition to liven up long voyages.

In 1947, the schooner Bowdoin carried scientists and students north as far as Cape Sabine on Ellesmere Island, almost falling victim to the ice pack there.

Cape Sabine was the site of Adolphus Greely's retreat during the 1881-1884 U.S. Army expedition that went tragically awry, resulting in many deaths by starvation before the survivors were rescued.


22
Miriam MacMillan at the wheel, Northwest Greenland, 1948

Miriam MacMillan at the wheel, Northwest Greenland, 1948

Item 55118 info
Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center

Miriam Look married Donald MacMillan in 1935, and soon became a member of the schooner Bowdoin's crew. She joined all their voyages, contributing her seamanship, photography, film and sound recording skills. A camera tripod is visible at right.

In this view of Miriam MacMillan at the wheel, the schooner is moored with her stern up against a small iceberg near the shoreline.


23
Miriam and Donald MacMillan, Greenland, 1947

Miriam and Donald MacMillan, Greenland, 1947

Item 55119 info
Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center

Donald and Miriam MacMillan work at the chart table in the schooner Bowdoin's main cabin, which also served as the library and their sleeping quarters.

Note the instruments, books and photographs on the wall. Firearms are stored in a rack by the chart table.

Because the schooner was able to navigate near-shore and in ice-clogged waters, MacMillan was instrumental in charting sections of the Labrador and Greenland coasts. His work was particularly important in the years before and during World War II when this part of the world had not yet been surveyed accurately.


24
Inuit boys aboard schooner 'Bowdoin,' 1949

Inuit boys aboard schooner 'Bowdoin,' 1949

Item 76878 info
Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center

In 1949, Miriam MacMillan published a young readers' book entitled Etuk, Young Eskimo Hunter, based on her experiences and people she met in the Arctic. Two young Inuit boys examine her book during a visit aboard the schooner Bowdoin in Labrador.

Both Miriam and Donald MacMillan wrote about the North for a variety of audiences. Their publications ranged from popular articles in publications such as National Geographic and Readers' Digest to language dictionaries, children's books, and full-length books for adults.


25
U.S.S. 'Bowdoin' crew, Greenland, 1941

U.S.S. 'Bowdoin' crew, Greenland, 1941

Item 55120 info
Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center

Like many other privately-owned vessels, the Bowdoin was purchased and commissioned into the U.S. Navy during World War II.

Lt. Commander Donald MacMillan, in uniform and white cap at left, was recalled to active duty in the Navy to command his own vessel along the west coast of Greenland. Among other work, the vessel surveyed the coast and aided the building of two U.S. airfields in Greenland.

Here, MacMillan stands with his U.S. Navy crew in Greenland in 1941. Later, MacMillan was recalled to the Navy's Hydrographic Office in Washington, D.C., where the military consulted him on Arctic work and Inuit language.

The U.S.S. Bowdoin returned to serve in Arctic waters between 1942 and 1945 under Lt. Stuart Hotchkiss. She required extensive reconditioning when MacMillan repurchased her from the government after the war.


26
Miriam MacMillan recording on 'Bowdoin,' 1947

Miriam MacMillan recording on 'Bowdoin,' 1947

Item 55121 info
Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center

Miriam MacMillan was a pioneer in recording Inuit songs and conversation. Here she is using wire-recording equipment to capture the sounds of Inuktitut—and play them back to a delighted audience.

These recordings are preserved today at the Arctic Museum at Bowdoin College, along with the MacMillans' extensive archives of photographs, film, and papers.


27
Schooner 'Bowdoin,' Greenland, 1939

Schooner 'Bowdoin,' Greenland, 1939

Item 55122 info
Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center

Moored near an iceberg in Kangerdluk Fjord, Greenland in 1939, the schooner Bowdoin was on a three-month expedition to study glaciers and deep fjords. Her crew of college and high-school age students did scientific work, including botany, ornithology, oceanography, and glacier studies.

Captain Donald MacMillan was a pioneer in experiential education. MacMillan gave dozens of young men an opportunity to experience the North while working hard, both aboard the vessel and ashore.

In an interview he gave to the Christian Science Monitor in 1949, MacMillan explained his philosophy: "No man can be successful without loving his work. I like to work with the boys and help them find the thing in life that they will love."


28
Schooner 'Bowdoin,' Mystic Seaport, 1959

Schooner 'Bowdoin,' Mystic Seaport, 1959

Item 55123 info
Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center

Donald and Miriam MacMillan wave to the crowd gathered to celebrate the arrival of the Bowdoin at Mystic, Connecticut, on June 25, 1959. Manned by a large crew of those who had been north with the ship on more than one trip, this 27th expedition was short, but memorable.

Accompanied by a large flotilla of boats forming a marine parade a mile long, the schooner went up the Mystic River to the sounds of cheering crowds, a marine band, bagpipes, and locomotive whistles. Then Bowdoin joined the fleet of historic vessels at the Marine Historical Association, now Mystic Seaport.

It was part of the MacMillans' careful plan for their beloved vessel's retirement after sailing more than 200,000 miles in northern work.

But the Bowdoin did not stay enshrined for long. After a decade at Mystic Seaport, where she hosted many thousands of visitors, the schooner was reconditioned and relaunched.

As of 2012, she continues her northern work and seamanship mission under the auspices of Maine Maritime Academy.


29
Schooner 'Bowdoin' relaunched, Bath, 1984

Schooner 'Bowdoin' relaunched, Bath, 1984

Item 55124 info
Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center

By the late 1960s, the schooner Bowdoin required extensive restoration—fifteen years after Donald MacMillan himself had retired from Arctic travel.

Here, the restored and garlanded schooner rests on the launching ways at the former Percy & Small Shipyard along the Kennebec River in Bath. She was ready for new masts and rigging, and a second career at sea.

Guests are aboard for the launching, just as they were in 1921. The fishing schooner Sherman Zwicker, at right, is dressed with flags for the celebration. Sadly, Donald MacMillan had passed away in 1970.

But Miriam MacMillan, along with many of the schooner's old friends and crew members, participated in the re-launching festivities.


30
 'Bowdoin' at Statue of Liberty, New York, 1986

'Bowdoin' at Statue of Liberty, New York, 1986

Item 76876 info
Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center

On July 4, 1986, New York Harbor was filled with vessels of all kinds in a parade of sail to honor the centennial of the Statue of Liberty, recently restored. The schooner Bowdoin, also newly restored, sails by the crowd of spectators on shore in this Boston Globe photograph.

The Bowdoin shows the classic lines of the American "knockabout" fishing schooner of the late 19th century. Her low rig, rounded bow, and compact shape are ready for any conditions, from a crowded city harbor to the harsh and variable seas of the Far North.


31
Schooner 'Bowdoin,' 1946

Schooner 'Bowdoin,' 1946

Item 76880 info
Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center

The classic American schooner Bowdoin has led many lives. In this 1946 photograph, the 25-year-old schooner was newly restored following her years of Navy service in World War II.

The schooner was renovated again in the 1970s and early 1980s. She joined the prestigious ranks of National Historic Landmarks in 1989.

Her story continues. Acquired in 1988 by Maine Maritime Academy for use as a training vessel, the Bowdoin voyages around New England and northward to Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Labrador and Greenland.

She continues her mission of training young men and women in seamanship -- as her first captain, Donald MacMillan, expressed it, to "help them find the thing in life that they will love."


This Exhibit Contains 31 Items