- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 24, 2006

PORTLAND, Maine

The owners of the historic three-masted schooner depicted on Maine’s commemorative quarter have stepped up efforts to sell the vessel in the hope that it will remain a fixture along the Maine coast.The 105-year-old Victory Chimes, the last schooner of its type, is up for sale for $1.5 million. Most interest has come from outside the United States.

Richard “Kip” Files, the skipper and co-owner, said the time has come to think of his future and the ship’s future. He and Paul DeGaeta bought the boat from Domino’s Pizza in 1990 and have kept it sailing as part of the Maine windjammer fleet in Rockland.

“She’s worth saving; she’s such a wonderful vessel,” Mr. Files said. “Hopefully, someone will come along with as much passion about saving U.S. maritime history as Paul and I have.”

But it could prove difficult to find a buyer for the 132-foot schooner, originally named the Edwin and Maud, which was built in Delaware in 1900 to carry bulk fertilizer, lumber, grain and other products under sail in Chesapeake Bay and points along the East Coast. In 1954, it was purchased by a Maine syndicate, brought to Penobscot Bay for passenger cruises and renamed the Victory Chimes.

In the years since, it has come to symbolize the rugged Maine coast and its maritime tradition — so much so that the Maine state quarter issued by the U.S. Mint in 2003 is designed to look like the Victory Chimes sailing by Pemaquid Point Light.

The boat has changed hands several times since coming to Maine.

Captain Frederick Guild, who was part of the Maine group that bought the vessel in 1954, purchased the Victory Chimes outright in 1959 and owned it until 1985, when he sold it to a Duluth, Minn., banker, who took it to the Great Lakes.

It was then purchased by Thomas Monaghan, the founder of Domino’s Pizza Inc., who renamed it the Domino Effect and offered cruises as incentives to Domino’s employees. Mr. Monaghan had the ship refitted before bringing her back to Maine in 1989.

When Mr. Monaghan put the boat on the market, one bidder wanted to take it to Japan, put it in a lake and turn it into a restaurant, Mr. Files said.

That’s when he and Mr. DeGaeta, both of whom worked for Domino’s marine division, bought the ship and began offering cruises.

The Victory Chimes is now listed for sale by Fraser Yachts of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Companies in Costa Rica, the Galapagos Islands, Greece and Turkey have expressed an interest in buying the vessel and running excursion trips, said Gerry Hull, the listing broker.

The best thing that could happen, he said, would be for a group of Maine businessmen to buy the boat as a civic-minded investment. It could be used for promotional and educational purposes while continuing to offer pleasure cruises for paying customers, he said.

The Victory Chimes, while not a huge moneymaker, is still profitable.

“They’ll never make a lot of money — I’m sure there are better investments out there than buying a wooden boat,” Mr. Hull said. “But there are no better investments in keeping the maritime history alive. And this boat can pay its own.”

The Victory Chimes was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1997 and is the last of the so-called Chesapeake ram schooners, said Pete Lesher, curator of collections at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Md. It is also the last American-built three-masted schooner on the East Coast, he said.

Although the Victory Chimes is a great old boat and would represent a loss if it left the state, it’s not the last of the Maine windjammers, said Nathan Lipfert, curator of the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath.

“It’s not like she would be leaving a vacuum,” Mr. Lipfert said. “There’s still an active fleet of windjammers that people can go sailing on.”

It takes a lot of money to maintain a vessel as big as the Victory Chimes, by far the largest ship in Maine’s windjammer fleet.

“It’ll be interesting to see if the next owner is a commercial owner who can do with her what Captain Files has done,” Mr. Lesher said. “That’s certainly within the realm of possibilities.”

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