Many of you are curious as to what’s up with the beloved mailboat, Sophie C. and are most likely wondering if she’ll ever sail again. Well, I wish I could answer all the questions but unfortunately at this time I cannot. What I can tell you is how we got to this point and what we’re doing at this time and our intentions going forward.
First, how’d we get to this point.
Last summer during bike week one of our Skippers noticed, while doing a routine inspection, that we had water seeping in below deck. Nothing amounting to alarm us greatly but seepage just the same. Obviously whenever something like this is noticed we inspect more closely and completely. Our immediate decision was to pull the ship into dry dock to inspect the complete hull from the water line down. To do this properly we had to sandblast her thereby taking her down to bare steel. Unfortunately, finding someone to do this properly and in a timely fashion was not possible so her 2018 season was scrapped. Upon further inspection we found the steel skin to be rather thin around the leaking area and it made us question about the rest of the hull. We now felt we needed a complete hull survey by a professional marine surveyor.
Second, where we are now.
It’s taken some time for us to find the right individual to come and do a hull survey for us. As these people in this special trade are not plentiful, they are very busy. It took some time for us to find them, vet them, choose one and schedule a time. We successfully found the best in the business on the East Coast, Coastal Maine Survey. This gentleman from Maine will perform the task soon and we will then have a complete understanding of what we’re looking at and what we need to do.
Third, our intentions going forward.
We certainly will continue to deliver the mail to the islands. More about that below. However, until we know the exact condition of the vessel’s hull, we really can’t say with all certainty that she will sail in 2019. I can say it is our sincere hope that we can fix her in a timely manner, but this will be dependent on her condition and finding the right craftsmen to do the work.
The Sophie C was built in 1945 by Boston General Ship and Engines Work of East Boston, MA by professional ship builders. She has operated flawlessly for 73 years on Lake Winnipesaukee. It may be interesting to note that in the time since the first mail season on Lake Winnipesaukee began in 1892 there have been multiple mailboats, six I believe, delivering mail for RFD #7 out of Laconia, NH, which is the mail route we service.
In 2019, the M/V Doris E. will offer daily mail runs Monday – Friday from June 15-September 14, just as she did last season. These 2-hour mail runs depart Weirs Beach at 11:00 am and 2:00 pm with each taking a different route with mail deliveries. The Doris E. is very similar to the Sophie C. in size and capacity. She’s been a member of Winnipesaukee Flagship Fleet since 1961.