Canadian schooner is destroyed by fire

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Owner of world-traveling Maggie B is reeling from loss, hasn’t decided on rebuilding the vessel

Owner of world-traveling Maggie B is reeling from loss, hasn’t decided on rebuilding the vessel

She sailed around the world since her launch in a January 2006 snowstorm in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. With her cosmetic refit at Covey Island Boatworks almost complete, the 62-foot wooden schooner Maggie B was destroyed in a fire Aug. 11 that razed the entire facility.

“She is a total loss,” stated Frank Blair, owner and captain on Maggie B’s Web site, www.schoonermaggieb.net.

Although no one was hurt in the blaze, it has sent Blair and the owners of the yard reeling.

“It’s a tragic loss of a boat and many non-replaceable artifacts,” says General Manager Al Hutchinson in a formal statement issued by the yard. He said the company hopes to pick up the pieces and move on.

The building, which was insured, included an 8,000 square-foot boatbuilding plant and two boatbuilding bays. Blair says in the statement that he can’t believe Maggie B burned in the very place she was built not so long ago. He said the boat was due back on the water the following Monday.

Seven neighboring fire departments responded to the fire, which began on the night of Aug. 11 and lasted into the morning. Foul play has been ruled out by officials, according to a recent report in the Chronicle Herald newspaper. Blair heard about the fire the next afternoon while visiting his father in Mount Desert Island, Maine.

“This was my home for two years,” Blair told the Herald, of his $3.5 million-dollar schooner. “So it’s like my house burned.”

The report states Blair had plans to sail with his father in Maine, who helped him envision the boat’s design, but had never been onboard.

Maggie B was named after the title of a book by Irene Haas, which was a favorite of Blair’s two children, Alexandria and Alden. Built by Nigel Irens specifically for circumnavigation, she finished her first trip around the globe this spring and logged 38,400 nautical miles on her maiden voyage. She also grabbed third place in a Big Boat single-handed race at the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta in 2006.

Maggie B was conceived of in Chicago, designed in England, and built at the Covey Island Boatworks with materials from around the globe, according to her Web site. Irens built her to withstand big seas and big winds, stating that the waterlines forward were built fine to allow the bow to pass through the back of a wave without too much resistance. Maggie B, with her distinctive toucan on the sail, was featured in several nautical magazines.

There has not been word as to whether Blair will rebuild the schooner.