Beloved vessel celebrates her 75th year
After major repairs and renovations, the Winnipesaukee Flagship Corporation is pleased to announce that the U.S. Mailboat Sophie C will return to service for the first time since the 2018 season. Now in her 75th year, the Sophie C will offer scenic cruises beginning this May, and will return to her mail delivery schedule this June.
“It’s been a long process,” said Jim Morash, Captain and General Manager. “But now that she’s back in the water, it was time and money well spent.”
The scope of the project required the company to contract with outside vendors. The work was expected to last just a few months, but unexpected delays and setbacks, including the COVID-19 pandemic, pushed the timeline back by more than a year.
“We were working toward bringing Sophie back online by August 2020 for her 75th birthday, but the pandemic complicated matters. We were shut down for much of the spring, and travel restrictions between states didn’t allow our contractors to come to New Hampshire for part of the summer. Ultimately, our timeline slipped into 2021,” said Morash. “She’s a little late to her own birthday party, but there’s plenty of time to celebrate before she turns 76!”
Launched in August 1945, the M/V Sophie C was and named for the mother of Byron Hedblom, then owner of the company. In 1969, she took over the seasonal postal route for RFD #7 out of Laconia, which manages mail delivery to the island residents on the western side of Winnipesaukee. She’s the fifth vessel to carry the postal contract for the route, and holds the longest tenure.
Since her appointment, generations of families and campers on the islands have relied on the vessel’s daily visits for letters and packages from the mainland. In more recent years, the vessel also offers snacks and ice cream novelties, similar to a floating ice cream truck. Each season, thousands of visitors to the Lakes Region join the fun by riding along with Sophie on one of her two daily cruises.
The U.S. Mailboat Sophie C offers mailboat cruises Monday through Saturday from June 15 through the second Saturday in September. She is also available for scenic tours and private charters. Schedules and tickets are available at cruisenh.com.